Numerous states continue to forge full speed ahead on clean energy policy, and many have doubled down on their efforts. Within a week of each other, both Maryland and Minnesota adopted more nuanced regulatory reforms that will increase clean energy access for more consumers, while supporting clean energy jobs and investments. From the trenches, IREC offers a ground-level view of these two important state regulatory reform efforts.
States continue to lead the way for clean energy: Maryland and Minnesota make strides for customer-driven distributed energy resources
Recently, the Silver State set itself apart from the pack with a landmark regulatory decision on interconnection rules for energy storage to explicitly allow distributed energy storage systems to connect to the grid and clarify the process projects would undergo as they seek interconnection. IREC played a leading role in advancing these reforms and negotiating the settlement among involved parties.
As I travel to cities across the country, I observe that new apartments, condominiums and mixed-use residential and commercial developments are cropping up around nearly every corner. Growing at a similar clip, residential solar installations on single family homes have soared, averaging a 68 percent annual growth rate for the last 10 years, resulting in a historic number of Americans reaping economic, environmental and societal benefits. It’s time to address the policy gaps that are eclipsing the solar opportunity for this growing sector of Americans.
With more states adopting policies that enable community solar, and with voluntary utility programs on the rise, the community solar (aka shared solar) landscape is transforming quickly. Eleven states plus the District of Columbia have implemented active statewide community solar programs. Two additional states (Illinois and Oregon) are now moving to adopt new program rules.
Spring was always report card time – met by smiles or cringes, depending on your progress. With shared renewable energy programs launching in more than a dozen states over the past decade, we thought it was time to start grading states on their program’s strengths and weaknesses.
The strength of our foundations will be both a theme and a measure of resilience in 2017. As considerable changes permeate the federal landscape and seep into our economic, environmental, social and energy spheres, the foundations upon which historic clean energy growth has been built will be put to the test. State and local governments will remain at the epicenter of clean energy deployment and policy innovation.
IREC is involved in over a dozen simultaneous regulatory proceedings across the country at any given moment. Yet, rare it is when three state regulatory milestones occur within the same week. In an unexpected occurrence of regulatory synchronicity, the commissions of California, South Carolina and Maryland all hit the streets in the same week with some pretty big (and long-awaited) steps forward for consumer oriented clean energy. What’s more, IREC was thrilled to see clearly reflected in all of them the adoption of several IREC recommendations, all of which make it easier and more affordable for more consumers to access and benefit from clean energy.
As IREC works on clean energy policy and workforce efforts in states across the country, we keep the consumer focus front and center, bringing an important independent voice to the table. And from this vantage point, we’ve identified some key consumer-oriented trends that we expect to garner heightened attention going forward.
Amidst a growing sense of urgency to expedite the transition to a clean energy future, catalysts are paramount. Lasting reforms to our centuries-old energy system will not just magically happen in 50 states and a handful of territories. A planned, patient, and persistent approach is needed. This laborious (some might even say tedious) process takes a stimulus.
Along with the season’s time-honored traditions, comes time to pause and reflect on the past year and year to come. Here’s a closer look at what we can expect to play out in the national regulatory arena next year. It’s definitely shaping up to be an energetic year.