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Green Power Partnership

Voluntary and Mandatory Markets

Mandatory markets exist because of policy decisions, such as state Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS). Such standards require electric service providers to have a minimum amount of renewable energy in their electricity supply. Often, these policy decisions specify eligible energy resources or technologies and describe how electricity service providers must comply.

Voluntary markets, also referred to as green power markets, are driven by consumer preference. Voluntary markets allow a consumer to choose to do more than policy decisions require and reduce the environmental impact of their electricity use. Voluntary green power products must offer a significant benefit and value to buyers to be successful. 	Chart showing relationship between the mandatory and voluntary markets for green power. The chart shows how voluntary markets help develop nationwide renewable energy capacity that exceeds what mandatory markets contribute alone. Benefits may include zero or reduced greenhouse gas emissions, other pollution reductions, brand development opportunities, and energy price stability, to name a few.

Voluntary markets help develop nationwide renewable energy capacity that exceeds what mandatory markets contribute alone (see graphic). Ensuring that voluntary markets are separate from and in addition to mandatory markets helps reduce the environmental impact of electricity generation.

Partnership Perspective

EPA's Green Power Partnership recognizes organizations that voluntarily buy green power products. Partners should ensure that their green power purchase does not result from a mandate. For more information, please review the Partnership Requirements (PDF) (19 pp, 520K, About PDF).

Added Reading

The following document provides greater detail on issues related to this Web page.

Text Box: Thumbnail NREL/EPA Report: Renewable Electricity Supply and Demand (PDF) (51 pp, 888K) The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) released an examination of the supply and demand balance for new renewable electricity in the United States on a regional basis through 2015. The report focuses on renewable energy projects that meet the generally accepted definition of "new" for voluntary market purposes, i.e., projects installed on or after January 1, 1997. After estimating current supply and demand, the report presents projections of the supply and demand balance out to 2015 and describes key market uncertainties.

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