The national market for shared renewable energy programs has grown significantly since the launch of IREC’s Model Rules for Shared Renewable Energy Programs in 2009 and the update of those rules in mid-2013. Today, there is increasing interest in shared renewables, along with many more mandatory statewide and voluntary utility programs. This week, the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) releases Five Guiding Principles for Shared Renewable Energy – to provide a timely update to the guiding principles that appeared in IREC’s original model rules.

While many of the original principles remain, the modifications are intended to reflect evolutions in the market and inform program and policy design efforts. These guiding principles reflect the benefits of shared renewable energy programs* to participants, the renewable energy industry, utilities and all energy consumers.

“IREC has been at the forefront of shared renewables issues since the concept was first on the drawing board,” says IREC Regulatory Director Sara Baldwin Auck. “As an active participant in the earliest states to create shared renewables programs, and many more since then, we have gained considerable insight about the value and purpose of these programs, as well as the challenges they face.”

The new Five Guiding Principles steer IREC’s approach with respect to shared renewable energy program development. They are also intended to broadly define what constitutes a shared renewable energy program. In line with IREC’s core mission to expand consumer access to clean energy, these Guiding Principles and all of IREC’s work in the shared renewable energy arena focus on the consumer experience.

The five principles in summary are:

  1. Shared renewable energy programs should expand renewable energy access to all energy consumers, including those who cannot install renewable energy on their own properties.
  2. Shared renewable energy programs should provide a fair value proposition to participants and tangible economic benefits on their utility bills.
  3. Shared renewable energy programs should be consumer-centric and accommodate diverse consumer preferences.
  4. Shared renewable energy programs should encourage fair market competition.
  5. Shared renewable energy programs should be additive to and supportive of existing renewable energy programs, and not undermine them.

*IREC’s reference to “shared renewable energy” or “shared renewables” programs, includes programs that enable multiple customers to share the economic benefits of one renewable energy system via their individual utility bills (typically through bill credits). It does not include other “community” renewables programs, such as green tariff shared renewables, group purchasing or aggregate net metering programs.

Additional IREC resources regarding shared renewable energy programs include: