October 17, 2011.  Dallas, TX – The Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc. (IREC) today released its Annual Updates & Trends Report, recognized nationally for its collective information and leading insight into growing and emerging trends in the renewable energy and energy efficiency space.

The report, with chapters authored by many of the nation’s top experts in renewable energy, covers: regulatory issues, policies and incentives, installation and market data, clean energy workforce development, credentialing and training.

“A lot of ground has been covered over the past year at IREC,” said Executive Director, Jane Weissman.  “We’ve seen measurable gains on the regulatory front; higher bars set for renewable energy and energy efficiency training; U.S. grid-connected PV installations doubling in 2010 compared with 2009; and on-going state support for renewable and efficiency policies.” Some report highlights follow:

Regulatory Issues
IREC’s impact over the past years with a diverse set of stakeholders in 35 states to develop and implement best practices in the regulatory process is undeniable.  Net metering, interconnection, third party ownership, wholesale market programs, retail rate design, land use and permitting, community renewables—all of these policies are critical if a state’s renewable energy program is to be successful.

State Solar Incentives and Policies
Despite budget crises and rising unemployment, state policy makers continue to support policies that foster growth in ‘green jobs.’  Almost every state (45), plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico modified solar policies or programs in some way, according to staff at the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) at the North Carolina Solar Center at NC State University.  Though no clear trends in tax policy emerged, some states extended and/or expanded tax credits that support solar.  Still, others allowed tax incentives to expire while others reduced the scope of tax credits or eliminated them altogether.

Solar Installations
While the U.S. economy continues to languish, that’s not the case for grid-connected PV installations in the U.S., which doubled in 20120 compared with 2009.  Solar markets continue to grow in the United States due to consumer interest in green technologies, concern about energy prices, and financial incentives available from the federal government, states, local governments and utilities.  U.S. market growth will continue in 2011, especially for grid-connected PV installations. Federal and state policies will drive this accelerated market growth.

IREC ISPQ Credentialing Program
The need for quality training for the developing clean energy workforce is stronger than ever and the third-party assessment provided by the IREC ISPQ Credentialing Program is in high demand.  Some major landmarks were accomplished in 2011.  IREC bought the ISPQ International Standard 01022 from the Institute for Sustainable Power, which gives IREC the ability to continuously improve the Standard used for assessment of training providers.   A Standards Committee was seated to create a new, energy-related certificate specialty Standard.  In July, IREC and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) announced plans for a partnership designed to help bolster the American workforce for the growing number of clean energy jobs.  ANSI and IREC will pursue an independent, joint accreditation program for credit or non-credit energy efficiency and renewable energy-related certificate programs.  “The results of high-quality training programs and verifiable credentialing schemes have a dramatic impact on market growth, customer acceptance and reduced costs,” says Weissman.

Solar Instructor Training Network
In IREC’s role as the National Administrator of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Instructor Training Network, a solar career map has been created. What makes this career route unique is that the end product is an on-line, visual roadmap that includes occupational descriptive information, skills and competencies, education and training paths, certification opportunities, and licensing requirements.  It is interactive and more flexible and realistic than the typical static chart of mailroom-to-boardroom advancement.

IREC’s 2011 Updates and Trends Report