Q3 2016 State Policy Update
With a 50% RPS and full retail net metering in place, SEIA is working to ensure the value of these victories is realized through continued work on RPS implementation, rate design and solar grid integration.
- SEIA is actively working across several rate cases to support workable time-of-use rates, prevent fixed charges and demand charges, and retain solar-friendly rate schedules.
- Legislation to allow for the creation of a regional independent system operator is expected in early January and SEIA will continue to work towards passage of legislation that has adequate governance provisions and guardrails that will promote solar development in California and throughout the west.
- SEIA is engaged in a number of potentially transformative proceedings, including grid modernization proceedings and the creation of a new carbon-based Integrated Resource Planning process, through which much of the RPS will be implemented.
Upon successfully securing legislation that increases the statewide net metering caps in April 2016, and securing an extension to the state’s existing SREC program until at least January 2017, SEIA is working with the legislature, the governor’s office, and administrative agencies on a number of implementation issues. Recent activities:
- SEIA helped ensure that certain solar systems at an advanced stage of development would be eligible for net metering credits under the full retail rate crediting regime, not the new reduced credits rate taking effect as the result of the legislation.
- We are engaging with state regulators on the design of a future incentive program, the successor program to SREC II.
- SEIA is developing a long-term, sustainable road map for solar in Massachusetts that will provide for continued industry growth, control costs, and help the Commonwealth achieve its energy and environmental goals.
SEIA is engaging with state regulators on their regulatory overhaul, known as Reforming the Energy Vision (REV), to promote solar, maintain support for solar programs, and develop interim successor tariffs for net metering. Areas of focus:
- SEIA helped ensure that the procurement guidelines for the 50% CES will be revisited to take into account factors beyond price in selecting CES resources, potentially providing new opportunities for utility scale solar.
- SEIA is helping to design successor tariffs to net metering under the Commission’s new compensation framework for distributed solar (LMP+D).
- SEIA filed one of the major proposals in the LMP+D case and is leading a coalition of stakeholders to fight for full compensation and increased market opportunities for community and DG solar.
- SEIA is engaged with New York’s efforts to overhaul the utility business model, advocating for a fair playing field for solar companies as the utility business evolves.
SEIA is actively engaged in dockets at the Public Utilities Commission of Texas and ERCOT that affect how utility-scale solar is treated in the Texas electric market. And although Texas is often thought of as a utility scale market – with ERCOT predicting 13,000 MW of solar capacity additions by 2030 – rate design issues have spread here as well. SEIA successfully opposed El Paso Electric’s proposed segregated rate class for solar customers and residential demand charges in a settlement that has been approved by the Commission.
SEIA is working with the legislature and other stakeholders to guarantee continued solar growth in the state even with forecasts showing a flattening demand for energy.
- We championed an SREC reform bill that has passed the upper house of the State Legislature and is likely to be taken up by the lower house this fall.
- SEIA is providing design criteria for a proposed Community Solar bill to ensure a workable program. The bill now has traction in both houses.
- SEIA is advocating at the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to ensure that an application for 100 MW of utility-owned solar generation on landfills and brownfields does not have a negative impact on the market for solar renewable energy credits.
SEIA is continuing to fight the PUCN’s outrageous changes to Nevada’s solar net metering program.
- SEIA filed a Petition for Reconsideration of the net metering decision to the Public Utility of Nevada (which was denied), and has joined the court battle seeking to overturn the decision.
- SEIA is engaged with stakeholders on the Governor’s Energy Task Force regarding 2017 solar legislation to grandfather pre-existing solar customers into the 2015 rate structure, future solar policies, and on consumer protection issues.
SEIA helped engineer a settlement agreed to by 22 of 26 stakeholders in three key regulatory proceedings. Key provisions include:
- Xcel withdrew its controversial and problematic Grid Usage Charge, and instead will be offering a time-of-use rate as the primary residential rate structure in the future.
- Provisions and protections for net metering customers.
- The capacity in Xcel’s Solar*Rewards incentive program has been increased significantly, with 225 MW being available over the next 3 years (vs the existing 108 MW). This includes doubling the capacity for the Medium Program, and offering more options for a large Program (> 500 kW).
- The Community Solar Gardens capacity was increased from a minimum of 6 MW/yr to a minimum of 15 MW/yr, and a standard offer program will be introduced.
- For the first time, there will be specific program offerings for low income customers. These offerings include a rooftop solar program and a dedicated 4 MW/yr for low income community solar, among other provisions.
SEIA supports policies to open up utility monopoly markets to increase solar development, both wholesale and behind the meter. SEIA's Southeast work is closely tied to promoting solar as a compliance mechanism for the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. Recent developments:
- Florida: WIth SEIA's help Amendment 4 scored a big victory for commercial and utility scale solar on August 30, obtaining over 70% of the vote. SEIA had partnered with the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) for a round of robocalls targeting likely primary voters. SEIA and Vote Solar’s Florida lobbying firm has been connecting with legislative leadership about the potential for solar legislation in 2017, dependent on the outcome of the two constitutional amendments.
- North Carolina: SEIA is monitoring the legislative interim and connected with the newly revamped utility scale solar trade association, the NC Clean Energy Business Alliance (NCCEBA), on Duke Energy’s new stiffness criteria for substation capacity and a possible 2017 legislative stakeholder process on clean energy.