Top 10 Most Important State Policy Developments of Distributed Renewable Energy
September 10, 2012. Orlando, FL – Released today in the anticipated 2012 Annual Updates & Trends Report, the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc. (IREC) reports on the dynamic renewable energy environment, including growing and changing markets, increased quality demands by consumers, and the year’s regulatory successes which are integral to expanding residential and commercial use of clean energy across the U.S.
“This report offers details on how our work is facilitating a healthy marketplace for clean energy, including strengthening workforce readiness for the clean energy economy,” said Jane Weissman, IREC Executive Director.
The report cites the top 10 most important state policy developments of 2011, and why each made the cut. Rulemaking successes in the states that lead the nation in support of distributed renewable energy are important as replicable examples for other states.
“Solar markets continue to expand and evolve rapidly in many U.S. states, yet they are still inhibited by policy uncertainty and, especially during the past year, market and industry turmoil,” writes Rusty Haynes, in the IREC report. Haynes is director of The DSIRE Project (Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency).
Other report highlights include:
- How IREC has helped push to the forefront of state and federal policy discussions a greater understanding of the benefits of distributed generation (DG). Now16 states have incorporated either solar or DG procurement targets into their RPS requirements. Wholesale programs targeting DG have been implemented in six states. Community solar programs were proposed and/or have been implemented in seven states.
- Working to drive down the installed costs of solar energy, IREC’s dramatically ramped up regulatory efforts helped lead to several key state accomplishments, including the implementation of best practices in net energy metering rules and interconnection standards. Specific examples are cited and explained in the report.
- IREC reports on advancing innovative solar policies and financing mechanisms such as third-party ownership, community solar, and the Morris Model, and working with a diverse set of stakeholders to implement successful wholesale market programs, improve land use and permitting processes. “This mix of policies is our focus because, collectively, they facilitate a healthy marketplace for renewable energy in the U.S.” says Joseph Wiedman. “In short, now that most states have implemented net metering and interconnection rules, IREC is ensuring they work as they were originally intended, and that they can adapt to new conditions,” says IREC’s Wiedman.
- Solar enjoyed another banner year in 2011, with large increases in both the number and average size of photovoltaic (PV) installations, reports Larry Sherwood. The capacity of PV installations in 2011 more than doubled compared to 2010. And the price of PV modules declined, with total installed costs dropping by 14 percent for residential and 20 percent for non-residential installations.
- The capacity of non-residential, grid-connected PV installations increased by an astounding 236 percent in 2011. This includes sites such as government buildings, retail stores and military installations. Generally, utility-sector PV installations more than doubled in 2011. The amount of distributed grid-connected PV capacity installed doubled. More than 64,000 distributed PV systems were installed in 2011 – a 24 percent increase. The average size of distributed installations increased by 46 percent.
- The IREC Credentialing Program reached several significant milestones in 2011, focused on expanding accreditation of quality educational training programs in new clean energy technologies, and raising the bar for the growing number of certificate-awarding clean energy and energy efficiency training programs across the U.S. The report details development of the new ANSI-IREC Accreditation Program (American National Standards Institute), including Standard Development 14732:2012 General Requirements for Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Certificate Programs. “The purpose of accreditation is to determine if the program meets the requirements for issuing a market-valued certificate,” explains IREC’s Pat Fox, director of operations for IREC’s Credentialing Program.
- As national administrator of the Solar Instructor Training Network, IREC’s Joe Sarubbi reports on how SITN creates a geographic blanket of quality solar training throughout the U.S. Nine regional training providers are conducting train-the-trainer programs across the country. Targeted are community college instructors, to provide resources that support the development of quality solar training programs. Only two years old, more than 700 instructor trainees have received solar training through courses by the Solar Instructor Training Network (in support of the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Inititiative).