NewEnergyNews: ORIGINAL REPORTING: What makes a successful utility-led community solar program?

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    Wednesday, November 22, 2017

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: What makes a successful utility-led community solar program?

    What makes a successful utility-led community solar program? An examination of shared solar programs across the country reveals diverse pathways to success

    Herman K. Trabish, June 8, 2017 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: The divide between effective and poorly structured programs has continued to grow since this piece ran.

    California is the world’s sixth-largest economy and its Senate Bill 100 would have required 60% renewables by 2030 and targeted 100% renewables by 2045. Though it did not become law this year, lawmakers say they will bring it back in 2018. The most recent California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) numbers found California’s three investor-owned utilities (IOUs) on track to reach the state’s 50% renewables by 2030 goal in 2020, with Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) at 32.9% in 2016, Southern California Edison (SCE) at 28.2%, and San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) at 43.2%. But none of the IOUs supported the bill. Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin De León (D-Los Angeles), the force behind Senate Bill 350, which last year upped the state’s mandate to 50%, is pushing for SB 100. He told Utility Dive it does three important things: It moves the 50% renewables mandate up to 2026, it imposes a 60% mandate for 2030, and it establishes a non-mandatory 100% renewables goal for 2045 that can drive regulatory agency and power sector stakeholder planning.

    Hawaii is the only other state with a 100% renewables mandate, which it must hit by 2045. But Hawaii is a small, isolated economy with one dominant electricity supplier and high power prices that support a transition to alternative sources. California’s economy, by contrast, is complex and diverse, with interests ranging from Hollywood to its oil fields. Passing and implementing a 100% renewable energy target there is sure to prove more difficult, and state power stakeholders say debate is only beginning. The most significant objections are likely to be reliability concerns. V. John White, executive director for the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies (CEERT), said there is common ground for the utilities, advocates, and the Brown administration but attention should go to more than mandates for the lowest cost renewable kWh and the 100% by 2045 mandate should lead to a more robust multi-agency, public, transparent, integrated resource planning (IRP) process aimed at ensuring reliability and cutting GHGs… click here for more

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