ORIGINAL REPORTING: Utilities, Greens Still Miles Apart On Solar Valuation At The State Level
Utilities, greens still miles apart on solar valuation, new report shows; Environmentalists want to expand the factors included in solar valuation, but the power sector is skeptical
Herman K. Trabish, May 12, 2016 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: The change in politics since this story ran makes the state policies described in it more important than ever.
Solar power is taking off in the U.S. but some states are lagging. Ten states, primarily located in the Southeast, hold 35% of total solar potential in the United States, but only account for 6% of the nation’s total installed capacity, according to a Throwing Shade; 10 Sunny States Blocking Distributed Solar Development from the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD). Policy determines whether solar will be affordable, whether it can connect to the grid, and how utilities interact with their customers but, in most regulatory hearings about solar policy, commissioners focus on the resource’s quantifiable value and overlook equally important non-quantifiable values. Too often, it observes, utility profits are more of a concern than the impacts the energy system on water, air quality, and wildlife.
But while environmental organizations like CBD regularly call for a greater array of factors to be included in solar valuation, many utilities and their allies argue there should be separate policies to address things like biodiversity. The CBD report also highlights this divide between the utility and solar factions in the power sector. It zeroes in on six policies key to solar growth in three categories: market preparation, market creation and market expansion. They include policies on interconnection standards, net energy metering (NEM), and solar access laws necessary to prepare a solar market. Beyond specific solar support policies, a number of states have also taken up the broader question of what rooftop solar is worth to the grid and utilities alike… click here for more