NewEnergyNews: ORIGINAL REPORTING: Massachusetts and California provide different lessons on growing community solar

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    Wednesday, June 13, 2018

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Massachusetts and California provide different lessons on growing community solar

    A tale of 2 states: Massachusetts and California provide different lessons on growing community solar; The Golden State has no privately developed community solar while the Bay State has the second most in the U.S. — Why?

    Herman K. Trabish, Nov. 30, 2017 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: Community solar grew 112% in 2017 – and sunny California still is not in the game.

    There are lessons to be learned in why sunny California has built 0 MW of privately developed community solar while Minnesota leads the U.S. with 246 MW of private-sector-led community solar and Massachusetts, with much less open land and cloudier skies, is second. Through the end of 2017, the 228 utilities with 734 MW in offerings broke down as follows: 160 cooperative utilities, 37 public power utilities, and 31 investor-owned utilities. Policymakers across the country now designing emerging community solar programs led both by utilities and the private sector can learn from the flops and achievements in California and Massachusetts.Those lessons are especially important to New York policymakers now designing what could be the next important community solar market.

    There are two important areas of “distinct difference” between Massachusetts and California, according to Tom Hunt, director of policy for U.S.-leading private sector community solar developer Clean Energy Collective (CEC). The overall rate of compensation in Massachusetts is much higher, more easily understood and stable. And the regulations, though not easy, are “manageable and rational.” Clean Energy Collective has built 34 projects and almost 50 MW of installed community solar capacity in Massachusetts. Hunt said the regulatory hurdles and required timelines in Massachusetts “line up with a developer’s business practices.” By the numbers, the Green Tariff Shared Renewables (GTSR) program, authorized by California’s 2013 Senate Bill 43 and implemented by state regulators in 2015, has been an abysmal flop. About 33 MW of capacity has been built, all of it by the state’s three investor-owned utilities (IOUs). The obstacle is a charge to customers that results in an unpredictable but higher than retail price to subscribers… click here for more

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