News from DSIRE: 10/15/12
ARIZONA – Tucson Solar Permit Fee Waiver Rescued
The City of Tucson began waiving solar permit fees in 2005. This waiver is approved annually, and the waiver expired June 30, 2012. However, on October 9, Tucson’s city council and mayor approved a resolution to reinstate the waiver through the end of FY2013.
CALIFORNIA – Policymakers’ Growing Appetite for Feed-in Tariffs Leads to Gas
California enacted two bills in late September that modified the state’s feed-in tariff. An existing law required municipal utilities with 75,000 or more customers to develop a feed-in tariff, but that law offered little guidance on implementation. One of the two new laws provided more specific guidance to municipal utilities regarding FIT pricing and set a deadline of July 1, 2013, for tariffs to take effect. The other new law established a parallel FIT specifically for 250 MW of bio-energy projects. The CPUC must develop regulations to implement the new bio-energy FIT.
CALIFORNIA – New Law Limits Local Solar Permit Fees
Solar developers and supporters have groused for years about the wide variation in fees that local governments charge for a solar permit in California. Happily, a new state law instructs local governments to charge no more for a permit that the reasonable costs of providing a permit. The new law includes explicit dollar limits for the fees local governments may charge: $500 for a residential system plus $15 for every kW over 15 kW; and $1,000 for a commercial system plus $7 for every kW between 51 kW and 250 kW, and $5 for every kW over 250 kW.
CALIFORNIA – Net Metering Expanded
Another pair of laws enacted in late September amended California’s net-metering policy. One bill opens the door to meter aggregation for net-metered systems. All meters would have to be located on contiguous property owned by the same utility customer. However, before meter aggregation is allowed, regulators must determine that doing so would not increase costs to customers what are not participating in net metering. The second new law increased the statewide aggregate capacity limit for net-metered fuel cells to 500 MW.
CALIFORNIA – Blockage Cleared for Bio-Methane RPS Contracts
The California Energy Commission voted in March 2012 to suspend the eligibility of bio-methane under the state’s RPS. Utilities that had previously signed several contracts for bio-methane prior to the CEC’s vote were left holding the bag for a resource that was potentially no longer eligible. A new law (AB 2196) specifies that bio-methane contracts executed before March 29, 2012, are eligible for compliance if certain conditions are met.
CALIFORNIA – CSI Incentives Extended to Solar Pool Heating
New legislation enacted in late September allows non-residential solar pool heating to qualify for incentives through the California Solar Initiative’s solar-thermal program. The CPUC must implement these changes before solar pool heating incentives are available. The new law set a deadline of July 1, 2013, for incentives to be in place. (Residential solar pool heating is still ineligible for incentives under the CSI.)
FLORIDA – Solar Rebate Bonanza Skids to a Halt
Four Florida utilities — Progress Energy Florida, Gulf Power, Tampa Electric and Gainesville Regional Utilities – re-opened their solar rebate programs on October 1. All program funding has already been fully committed, and the programs are now closed to new applications. While additional funding may become available before October 2013, these programs are not scheduled to re-open until that time.
FLORIDA – FPL Solar Rebates Fashionably Late
Florida Power & Light’s PV rebate program will begin accepting applications for 2013 funding on October 16. Rebates will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Funds likely will run out quickly.
INDIANA – Grants for Community Renewables Available
The Indiana Office of Energy Development is offering grants under the Community Conservation Challenge. Non-residential entities may apply for funding for community projects including PV, solar water heating, wind, biomass, alternative fuel vehicles and energy efficiency. The application deadline is November 15.
MINNESOTA – Xcel Energy Must Continue PV Incentive Program
The Minnesota Department of Commerce has ordered Xcel Energy to maintain the utility’s Solar*Rewards program through 2015. When the program reopens in 2013, the incentive rate will drop from $2.25/W to $1.50/W. The annual budget for this program is $5 million in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
OHIO – FirstEnergy Ohio Offers Short-Term SREC Contracts
FirstEnergy Ohio is seeking to purchase 7,500 SRECs created within Ohio or states contiguous to Ohio. The SRECs must be created between January 1, 2010, and December 31, 2012. The application deadline is October 22, 2012.
TEXAS – Austin Energy’s “Value of Solar” Rate Takes Effect
Austin Energy began offering a “Value of Solar” rate for residential PV systems on October 1. The Value of Solar tariff, designed by Austin Energy and approved by the city council in June 2012, is available for all residential PV systems up to 20 kW, regardless of when the system was installed. This new tariff, which provides a rate higher than net metering, replaces Austin Energy’s net-metering option for residential PV systems up to 20 kW.
TEXAS – Bryan Texas Utilities PV Rebate Sunsets
Bryan Texas Utilities’ PV rebate program has formally closed and is not expected to re-open. This program offered a standard residential rebate level of $2/W and a non-residential rebate of $2.25/W.
TVA – New Performance-Based Incentive Program Launched
TVA and participating TVA distributors are offering new performance-based incentives, in the form of a 20-year contract, to homeowners and businesses for the installation of PV, wind, hydropower and biomass-electric systems. This news program — the Green Power Providers program – has replaced TVA’s Generation Partners pilot program.
UTAH – Utility Solar Rebate Program Super-Sized
The Utah Public Service Commission has given Rocky Mountain Power’s solar incentive program a massive shot in the arm. Since this program began in 2007, its annual budget has supported no more than 170 kW in applications per year. Program funds were drained within days, and incentives were awarded only to a handful of projects. The PSC recently expanded the program’s budget to $50 million, which is expected to support a whopping 60 MW of projects during the next five years. The budget will be spread across all five years and three customer classes, with incentive levels stepping down each year.
VERMONT – Net Metering Under Review; Public Comments Invited
Vermont enacted legislation in May 2012 requiring the Department of Public Service to study the costs and benefits of net metering by January 2013. This study has commenced, and the DPS is now seeking input from stakeholders and interested parties. The study will consider generation from several types of technologies eligible for net metering, which is significantly different from previous studies conducted in other states that have focused exclusively on PV.