The unique generation, landownership, and resource attributes of the southeastern United States make the region a ripe and important test bed for implementation of novel renewable energy policy interventions. This study evaluates the environmental and economic implications of one such intervention, a hypothetical region-wide renewable portfolio standard (RPS) with biomass carve-outs. It utilizes the Forest and Agriculture Sector Optimization Model with Greenhouse Gases (FASOMGHG) to assess the multi-sector and interregional allocation of increased harvest activity to meet the RPS. It then uses the Sub-Regional Timber Supply (SRTS) model to assess the intraregional allocation of harvests within the southeastern United States. The analysis finds that forest biomass is the dominant contributor to the regional RPS; national data suggest a substantial reallocation of harvests across both time and space. Existing resource conditions influence the regional distribution of land use and harvest changes, resulting in a spatially and temporally diverse forest carbon response. Net forest carbon in the Southeast is greater in the RPS Scenario than in the No RPS Scenario in all but the final years of the model run. Accounting for displaced fossil emissions yields substantial net greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions in all assessed time periods. Beyond the RPS, both research methodology and findings are applicable to a broader suite of domestic and international policies.
A version of this paper was published in Energy Policy.