ORIGINAL REPORTING: Solar Policy Debates Move To Higher Ground
In 2017, solar policy debates took the industry's future to higher ground; More solar policy contention in 2017 led to better questions and deeper insights about the renewable resource's value
Herman K. Trabish, Feb. 1, 2018 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: Solar debates continue to focus on the more wonky, detailed, and constructive questions.
Year-end numbers from the front lines of the struggle between utilities and renewables advocates for the future of solar reveal something too often unnoticed: The sometimes collaborative, sometimes contentious interactions have moved to higher ground — where the questions are more substantive and nuanced, but the answers are harder to find. This shift only becomes evident by reading between the lines of a new report summarizing 2017 solar policy developments and understanding the implications of its data. In 2017, there were a record 249 solar policy actions debated at state commissions and legislatures — up 17% from 2016’s 212 actions and 30% from the 175 actions only two years ago, according to the 50 States of Solar annual policy review.
The review shows that the solar policy debate is moving toward substantive engagement and a deeper understanding of distributed solar. A key indicator of the new, higher level debate is that activity increased in all solar policy categories last year except compensation for distributed generation (DG), according to the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC). That category was originally used for early, often data-free debates about limits on retail rate net energy metering (NEM), NCCETC Manager of Policy Research and report lead author Autumn Proudlove told Utility Dive. For its 50 States of Solar report, NCCETC tracks a wide range of policy actions, including rate changes, solar valuation and benefit-cost studies, and solar ownership policies. "Deeper, more nuanced and granular discussions" are now about rate design, market analysis and how both utilities and the private sector can benefit from meeting customer demand for solar, she said… click here for more