ORIGINAL REPORTING: A Deep Look At Evolving U.S. Efforts To Support Solar
War, peace and innovation: Solar policy in 2016; Solar policy debates will continue to rise as stakeholders debate rate design and NEM
Herman K. Trabish, Feb. 16, 2017 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: Last year’s shift toward successor NEM tariffs detailed in this piece has transformed this year into emerging efforts to improve those successor tariffs.
The fierce debates between solar interests and utilities over solar policies showed no sign of slowing down in 2016. The annual report from North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center (CETC) found a total of 212 policy debates over solar compensation and rates took place last year, a jump from 175 in 2015. The debates ranged from fixed charges and net metering policies to community solar programs and third-party ownership regulations. And some new trends are beginning to emerge, including fewer tweaks to net energy metering (NEM) policies and a greater emphasis on collaboration between power sector officials and solar advocates on NEM successor tariffs, according to Autumn Proudlove, CETC Manager of Policy Research.
Solar policy action is also moving out of traditional solar states like California, Hawaii and Nevada, and nascent markets like Arkansas, New Hampshire, and Indiana are becoming key battlegrounds in solar policy debates. Another key trend in 2016 was the changing categories of policy action. More of the discussions focused on changing NEM policies or compensation rates, while there were fewer debates on broader distributed generation valuation or cost-benefit analyses. On the rate side of the debate, requests for fixed charges climbed, but the number of residential demand charge proposals fell. And both fees and rate design proposals found little success with regulators. Not one regulatory commission approved a mandatory residential demand charge, while 79% of fixed charge requests were reduced or rejected outright…” click here for more
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