ORIGINAL REPORTING: Solar Breaking Out In The Southeast
How policies can make or brake solar development in the Southeast; Third party financing can enable solar growth, but faces hurdles in several states. Some utilities are not compensating for solar's value on the grid and leveling charges specific to solar owners.
Herman K. Trabish, Dec. 20, 2018 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: Driven by some of the hardest working and most thankless policy wonks in the nation, the sunny South is finally starting to grow solar. The most recent SACE reports shows growth accelerating.
Utilities in the sunny Southeast face challenging policy questions from the region's spiking demand for solar. The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) expects the region's cumulative 6 GW at the end of 2017 to reach 15 GW by 2021, driven largely by utility-scale solar. But this growth confronts utilities with big questions about costs and benefits. The Rates of Solar website, launched in October by the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) shows that many Southeastern utilities have policies that limit distributed solar growth, and finds two trends that impact the solar value proposition, SELC Staff Attorney Lauren Bowen told Utility Dive. "One is that many utilities charge small solar owners extra fees and the other is that they do not compensate solar's full value.” The focus of policy “should be on encouraging the market because consumers want solar, but some utility policies put the brakes on market growth," she added.
Florida, Sunrun, one of the biggest national solar installers, won a major victory at the Public Service Commission (PSC) in April by getting a form of third party ownership of solar approved. "Third-party ownership of solar has driven residential solar market growth across the country, but Florida did not allow it," Sunrun Chief Policy Officer Anne Hoskins, a former Maryland utility commissioner, told Utility Dive. "After the PSC rejected our initial proposal for a no-upfront-cost leasing program, we used their feedback to develop a proposal that fits state statutes and satisfied the commission." Sunrun expects third party ownership to drive new residential solar growth in Florida, while the SELC is keeping an eye on compensation and charges leveled by utilities on solar owners… click here for more
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