The N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center, in conjunction with Meister Consultants Group, Inc., announced the release of a special annual review edition of the quarterly report, The 50 States of Solar. The quarterly series provides insights on state regulatory and legislative discussions and actions on distributed solar policy, with a focus on net metering, community solar, residential fixed charges, residential solar charges, third-party ownership, and utility-led rooftop solar programs.
This latest edition includes an extensive review and analysis of major solar policy developments during the 2015 calendar year, followed by comprehensive solar policy changes proposed and adopted during the last quarter of 2015.
Key Solar Policy Actions in 2015
The report finds that all but four states took some form of solar policy action in 2015 (see Figure below). Specifically, the report finds that in 2015:
• 27 states considered or enacted changes to net metering policies
• 24 states formally examined or resolved to examine some element of the value of distributed generation
• 7 states had policy action on community solar
• 61 utilities in 30 states proposed increasing monthly fixed charges on all residential customers. The median increase requested was $5 per month.
• 21 utilities in 13 states proposed adding new or increasing existing charges specific to rooftop solar customers
• 6 states had policy action on third-party solar ownership laws or regulations
• 5 states had action on utility-owned rooftop solar policies or programs
The report also includes an overview of existing state solar policies, finding that:
• 41 states have mandatory net metering rules for all or certain utilities
• At least 10 states have conducted studies to develop methodologies to value the electricity generated by rooftop solar systems
• 14 states have statewide community solar policies
• 26 states allow third-party solar power purchase agreements, a popular financing mechanism for homeowners going solar
Benjamin Inskeep, report co-author and Energy Policy Analyst at the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center, noted, “With more than 200,000 Americans working in good-paying solar jobs, solar has been a true success story for our recovering economy. However, this report demonstrates that critically important state policies like net metering are experiencing unprecedented uncertainty, as many states considered drastic policy changes in 2015. If we want to continue to increase the amount of electricity we generate from clean energy and keep these good jobs in our communities, then it is paramount that solar policies fairly treat — not penalize — folks who go solar.”
2015 Policy Action on Net Metering, Rate Design, and Solar Ownership
Key Solar Policy Actions in Q4 2015
A total of 103 state and utility-level distributed solar policy and rate changes were proposed, pending, or enacted in Q4 2015, including 28 ongoing or approved net metering policy changes in 17 states.
Nine states were studying policies like net metering or the value of electricity generated by solar, with the Tennessee Valley Authority concluding a stakeholder group discussion on the value of distributed generation that began in 2014.
Proposals by 35 utilities to increase fixed charges on residential customers were pending or decided. In general, approved increases in the quarter were considerably below the requested amount. Sixteen utilities in 11 states sought charges or fees that were specific to solar or net metering customers.
Kathryn Wright, consultant at Meister Consultants Group and a report co-author observed that, “The last quarter of 2015 has demonstrated that states and utilities are responding to the increase in distributed generation in radically different ways. Nevada’s decision to roll back net metering and California’s continued support of retail rate net metering illustrate the stark contrast.”
To view the entire report, click here
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