March 2010 Connecting to the Grid Newsletter

WHAT’S NEW AS OF MARCH 2010?

Note from the Editor: Investor-Owned Utilities: Going Solar and Staying Profitable

Last month I posted an article about some of the constraints that electric cooperatives face when considering more renewable-friendly policies.  Investor-owned utilities (IOUs) confront a somewhat different array of challenges because they are generally privately owned and state-regulated.  According to EIA data, IOUs account for 6% of all utilities, 42% of generation, 66% of sales and 67% of revenue in the United States, ultimately serving about 100 million customers. 

Like most private ventures, these utilities are profit-motivated, either distributing dividends to shareholders or reinvesting profits in their company. This for-profit structure has traditionally precluded many voluntary renewable energy incentives but, as state Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) benchmarks are coming due, utilities are starting to find more innovative ways to purchase or otherwise support green power. As of this month, 29 states plus D.C. have an RPS that requires utilities and/or electricity suppliers to invest in renewable energy or buy renewable energy credits (RECs) to account for a certain percentage of their retail electricity sales.  Faced with these and other regulatory requirements, as well as the promise of possible profits, utilities must now decide if and how they will participate in the renewable energy industry. The situation is further complicated by electricity restructuring laws which may prohibit an electric distribution utility from owning generation assets, in which case the utility may have to consider other options.  [Continued in Newsletter]

State News in Detail

Northeast States

Connecticut DPUC issues favorable draft decision on meter aggregation; town and utility reach agreement

New York removes peak load limitation for net metering

Maine PUC adopts rules for community-based pilot program

Mid-Atlantic States

Delaware finalizes net metering changes, allowing grid-integrated vehicles to net-meter

D.C. PSC releases proposed rules for net metering          

Midwestern States

Illinois ICC adopts interconnection standards for large distributed generation facilities

Southern States

Louisiana PSC issues strawman RPS proposal

Mississippi net metering bill dies in committee

Western States

California increases aggregate participation cap

Montana PSC issues proposed interconnection standards for systems up to 10MW

Oregon PUC considers an array of Feed-in Tariff proposals

Other States

Hawaii PUC reaches decision on rate decoupling, increasing RPS Goal

 

Miscellaneous News and Events

NC report supportive of solar and wind increases

CPUC rejects fuel cell proposal

FERC seeks comments on integration of renewables

Download the full newsletter as a PDF:  March 2010 Connecting to the Grid

FORMAT

While customer-sited net metering and interconnection policies are primarily addressed at the state level, they are also becoming important on a regional basis. This newsletter has been designed to provide state-level policy updates and capture emerging regional trends. Connecting to the Grid is a free, electronic newsletter published each month by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc. (IREC) and the North Carolina Solar Center at North Carolina State University. Click here to subscribe.

Editor: Laurel Varnado
NC Solar Center, NC State University

 

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