Regulatory Policies Score a Triple Play in 2012: Net Metering, Interconnection, Community Renewables

Favorable U.S. regulatory policies, such as net metering, interconnection and community renewables, made a strong showing in 2012.  IREC was a significant player in these areas.  Here’s a snapshot:

Net Metering: The California Public Utility Commission decision to adopt IREC’s interpretation of calculating its net metering cap will expand the aggregate cap to over 5,000 MW, nearly doubling the amount of net metering capacity in California.

As a member of PJM’s Net Energy Metering Senior Task Force, IREC’s position to prevent costly burdens on small solar facilities was adopted in PJM’s territory (Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia).

IREC was part of the small team that drafted tariff language to include a number of new national best practices, such as expediting interconnecting PV systems on distribution feeders at penetration levels up to 100% of minimum daytime load. In addition to working on interconnection reform in California, Hawaii, Massachusetts and New Jersey, IREC was  an active participant in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s review of the federal Small Generator Interconnection Procedure (SGIP).

Community Renewables
IREC collected information about U.S. community renewables programs in 2012, including their retail or wholesale design, how they value their bill credits or payments, whether participation is transferable and portable, and other details on program criteria. Now the first model program rules for community renewables (released in 2010) will be re-evaluated and updated.  Expect the revised version in early 2013. In 2012, IREC helped Colorado with its community solar gardens (CSG) statute and developed rules for community solar gardens.

On the permitting side during 2012, IREC was part of a collaborative effort led by the California County Planning Directors Association to draft a Model Ordinance and Guide to address ground-mounted solar permitting.  IREC drafted sections of the guide that provided municipalities with information on the role that interconnection and procurement program requirements play in facility siting decisions. IREC also helped evaluate methods of facilitating quick review for projects located in environmentally responsible, cost-effective and low-conflict locations.

Related publications

Sharing Success: Emerging Approaches to Efficient Rooftop Solar Permitting:  Innovative strategies across the U.S. to increase the efficiency of permitting procedures for rooftop solar systems. 
The report serves as both a vehicle for discussion of permitting challenges, and as a source of inspiration for communities looking for realistic and effective ways to improve solar permitting while ensuring safe solar installations. (By Sky Stanfield, Erica Schroeder and Thad Culley of Keyes, Fox & Wiedman LLP, May 2012.)

12,000 MW of Renewable Distributed Generation by 2020
Provides a careful analysis of the benefits, costs and policy implications of the 12,000-MW goal to help inform decision-making on the development of the plan and to help ensure its effective implementation. IREC’s analysis advocates for a range of policy options that support each segment of the California solar market. (Prepared by Joseph Wiedman and Erica Schroeder of Keyes, Fox & Wiedman, LLP, with an economic analysis provided by Thomas Beach of Crossborder Energy.)

Freeing the Grid: Best Practices in State Net Metering Policies and Interconnection Procedures
A collaboration by IREC, The Vote Solar Initiative and the North Carolina Solar Center, Freeing the Grid is an annual report that grades all 50 states on net metering and interconnection procedures. Highlights from the 2012 edition:

  • Net metering: Best practices now include virtual net metering, meter aggregation and community-shared models. DC, Minnesota and New York improved their grades from 2011. New Jersey and Maryland added a bonus point to their already stellar As for allowing meter aggregation.
  • Interconnection:  Nine states get A grades, a significant improvement from five in 2011 and none in 2007.

A record number of states (five) received As for excellence in both net metering and interconnection: CA, DE, MD, MA and UT.  Hawaii jumped from an F to a solid B in interconnection, thanks to its simplified interconnection rules for small renewable systems, which  streamline the previously arduous review process.




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