Reaching Finish Line Easier on Paved Track
By Joe Wiedman
Keyes, Fox & Wiedman LLP
The greening of the U.S. energy supply is a marathon, not a sprint – from basic needs, such as ensuring consumers get a fair deal on net metering, to longer-term structural reform, like ensuring state and regional transmission planning incorporates renewables. And while the issues IREC takes on are not always headline-grabbing or sexy, we’ve been in the race since 1994, often leading the pack, and we’re poised to go the distance. What matters most is getting the policies that matter right – that’s the foundation of success.
For example, establishing fair, transparent, efficient rules for connecting renewables to the grid while also ensuring grid safety and reliability is necessary for renewables to even get out of the starting gate. States and utilities leading the charge in installed capacity, like Hawaii, Massachusetts, California and Pepco, Inc., are grappling with new interconnection issues as programs bring gigawatts on to the grid. IREC is working with national labs, utilities, developers and other industry partners to stay ahead of the game by addressing these next-generation interconnection issues now.
Consumers are jumping into the race in droves. But because the U.S. energy sector is so complicated (and sometimes downright challenging to renewables), consumers need help to ensure programs are designed to meet their circumstances.
For example, in New York, IREC supported an increase in the state’s net-metering cap that yielded hundreds of additional megawatts to that program. Similarly, in California, IREC supported an interpretation of that state’s net-metering cap that added over a gigawatt to California’s program.
The next leg of the race will be in Minnesota, which recently enacted legislation expanding net metering and shared solar, and in California, where two of the state’s three investor-owned utilities are developing programs that could offer hundreds of megawatts of shared solar.
IREC is also heavily involved in net-metering discussions in Arizona, California, Colorado and Nevada to address utilities’ concerns and to ensure consumers continue to have access to fair net metering.
Just like good running shoes are essential to achieving your personal best, high-quality resources are necessary to help regulators chart the course of policy evolution and reform. IREC recently updated its Model Interconnection Procedures and its Model Rules for Shared Renewable Energy Programs, and it has issued concept papers on distribution planning and PURPA-based DG growth to ensure regulators and others have the tools they need to achieve their states’ personal best.
We look forward to sharing a round of celebratory beverages at the finish line.
Image: © Warren Goldswain – Fotolia.com