47 States and DC Took Action on Distributed Solar Policy and Rate Design During 2016
Raleigh, N.C. – (January 31, 2017) The N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) released its 2016 annual review and Q4 update edition of The 50 States of Solar. The quarterly series provides insights on state regulatory and legislative discussions and actions on distributed solar policy, with a focus on net metering, distributed solar valuation, community solar, residential fixed charges, residential demand and solar charges, third-party ownership, and utility-led rooftop solar programs.
Key Solar Policy Actions in 2016
The report finds that 47 states and the District of Columbia took some type of solar policy action during 2016 (see figure below). Specifically, the report finds that:
- 71 utility requests in 35 states plus D.C. to increase monthly fixed charges on all residential customers by at least 10% were pending or decided.
- 28 states considered or enacted changes to net metering policies.
- 16 states plus D.C. formally examined or resolved to examine some element of the value of distributed generation or the costs and benefits of net metering.
- 13 states took policy action on community solar.
- 16 utility requests in 10 states to add new or increase existing charges specific to rooftop solar customers were pending or decided.
- 8 states had policy action on third-party solar ownership laws or regulations.
- 5 states had action on utility-owned rooftop solar policies or programs.
2016 Policy Action on Net Metering, Rate Design, and Solar Ownership
“Overall, we saw an increase in solar policy action from 2015 to 2016,” said Autumn Proudlove, lead author of the report and Senior Policy Analyst at NCCETC. “Notably, states considered more specific changes to net metering policies in 2016 and undertook fewer studies related to net metering. Many of these states have already conducted studies by now and are ready to take action.”
Half as many residential demand charges were proposed in 2016 as in 2015, while requests to increase residential fixed charges rose over last year. No public utilities commission approved a mandatory residential demand charge in 2016, and 79% of requests to increase fixed charges were either not approved or partially approved.
A total of 212 state and utility-level distributed solar policy and rate changes were proposed, pending, or enacted in 2016. This represents an increase in solar policy activity over 2015, when 46 states plus D.C. took approximately 175 actions. The report notes the top ten most active states in 2016 for solar policy developments were:
- Arizona, where a value of DG proceeding took center stage and the state’s three IOUs proposed major changes to net metering, residential demand charges, and increased fixed charges;
- Nevada, where a debate ensued and was eventually resolved over grandfathering existing net metering customers;
- Maine, where a net metering successor bill was vetoed and the work toward a new policy has continued at the Public Utilities Commission;
- New York, where the state’s Reforming the Energy Vision proceeding continued and led to the noteworthy “LMP + D” valuation methodology for distributed energy resources.
- California, where a net metering successor tariff was adopted early in the year;
- Massachusetts, where a compromise bill increased the state’s aggregate cap on net metering and made other changes to the state’s solar policy;
- Florida, were a contentious ballot initiative would have prohibited cross-subsidization due to net metering;
- Hawaii, where the state’s utilities hit their caps on the new Grid-Supply option, leaving Customer Self-Supply as the remaining option;
- New Hampshire, where the Public Utilities Commission initiated the development of a net metering successor tariff following legislation enacted earlier in the year; and
- Colorado, where Xcel Energy’s proposed Grid Use Charge was dropped in a settlement agreement in favor of time-of-use rates.
“2016 was very busy year for policymakers and those of us tasked with staying on top of their activity,” noted Brian Lips, Energy Policy Project Coordinator at NCCETC. “With several state solar markets hanging in the balance, 2017 is looking like it will be another exciting year.”
In Q4 2016, 42 states and D.C. took some type of action on distributed solar policy or rate design. A total of 131 actions were tracked in Q4, making it the busiest quarter of the year. NCCETC expects this high level of state and utility action on solar policy and rate design to continue into 2017.
Media relations contact:
Shannon Helm, NC Clean Energy Technology Center, firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-423-8340