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Combined Heat and Power Partnership

Public Benefits Funds

Public Benefit Funds Resources

Public benefit funds (PBFs) are a pool of resources typically created by levying a small fee or surcharge on customers' electricity rates, which can then be used by states to invest in clean energy supply.

As of October 2008, 23 states and the District of Columbia had established clean energy funds. The size of these funds ranges from less than $1 million to more than $300 million a year.

PBF Benefits

  • Provide a cohesive strategy "under one roof": PBFs combine a range of clean energy support (programs and funding) in one organization, which allows for a cohesive strategy to address the range of clean energy market issues.
  • Tailored to a state's needs: Clean energy funds provide states flexibility in the types of incentives and programs that are offered.
  • Complement other policies: PBFs flexibility allows the funds to complement other state and federal policies, such as renewable portfolio standards, making those policies more effective.
  • Support long-term goals: Clean energy funds can be designed to fund options with long-term benefits, such as technology research, development, and demonstration programs. These longer timeframe (10 or more years) goals are generally not supported by other funding approaches.

State Examples

  • The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) Exit EPA administers the New York PBF program. The program has funded 2,700 projects under 40 programs, including renewables, combined heat and power (CHP), and clean distributed generation (DG). As of 2006, the DG/CHP Program has approved more than 100 DG/CHP systems for funding, representing 100 megawatts (MW) of peak demand reduction.
  • The California Energy Commission (CEC) Exit EPA, in coordination with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), manages clean energy funding in California. The California PBF, established in 1998, generates more than $135 million per year for clean energy and funds existing, new, and emerging clean resources, as well as consumer education.
  • The Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust (MRET) is managed by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MTC) Exit EPA. MTC's approach is to first identify barriers to renewable energy growth in Massachusetts, then leverage additional funds from other sources, including private companies and nonprofits. MTC's goals include maximizing public benefit by creating new high-tech jobs and producing clean energy. As of June 30, 2007, 629 projects with 85.6 MW of clean energy capacity has been installed with funding from the MTC.


If you would like additional assistance, please contact Gary McNeil (mcneil.gary@epa.gov).

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