SolarNewsroom: Q1 2019 Solar Policy State Insights


State Policy Update Photo

California: Top of the Solar Leaderboard

As the current solar leader based on installed capacity (MW), California continues to set ambitious renewable energy goals for itself. California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) mandates that 50% of the state’s electricity come from renewables by 2030. In July 2018, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) announced a final decision to change Time-of-Use (TOU) periods, effectively shifting peak billing periods into the late afternoon and early evening (SCE and PG&E will be subject to the changes in March and October 2019 respectively). Solar-plus-storage will play a bigger role with the new TOU periods, as utility rates rise and lucrative storage incentives come into play.

New Jersey: Solar Champion in the Northeast

Over the past decade, New Jersey has been one of the strongest states for solar. Its innovative incentive structure, the Solar Renewable Energy Certificate (SREC) Program, catapulted the state into the renewable energy transition. Through the program, which became a model for other states to encourage solar growth, NJ experienced some of the highest adoption rates of solar in the U.S. Now, after 15 years, the state is sunsetting the SREC program to make way for a new program. While the timing and framework of the new program is still to be determined, the state continues to strive toward its RPS goal of generating 50% of its electricity from renewables by 2030.

New York: Solar & Storage Pioneer (tied with MA)

Governor Andrew Cuomo recently announced the “Green New Deal,” with the goal of having 100% of the state’s electricity generated from renewables by 2040. The plan includes an effort to double solar capacity in the state’s energy mix. To achieve this goal, the state has allocated additional funds as part of NYSERDA’s Megawat Block Program. NY offers a wide range of project structuring options, including community solar projects, off-site commercial options, solar parking canopies and brownfield developments among others. The state is also encouraging the implementation of solar-plus-storage solutions, increasing the incentive funding from the NY-Sun program for projects that add storage.

Massachusetts: Solar & Storage Pioneer (tied with NY)

Massachusetts is a great state for solar-plus-storage options. The Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) Program has been put in place to encourage the growth of solar, as well as solar paired with storage options. Additionally, the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) has initiated a stakeholder process to develop the Clean Peak Standard (CPS), a new renewable energy incentive. Once implemented, the CPS will offer an additional revenue stream for RPS-eligible, demand response and energy storage systems that can reduce stress on the electricity grid during seasonal peak periods.

Illinois: Emerging Market of the Midwest

Illinois is setting itself up for a bright future with solar energy. The state has mandated that 3,000MW of solar be developed in the state by 2030. To accomplish this goal, Illinois is offering the Adjustable Block Program, which allows system owners to accrue Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) as their systems produce clean energy. They can then sell these credits for a guaranteed 15-year revenue stream in addition to enjoying the ongoing savings on their electricity bills. There will be four rounds of applications that are expected to reach capacity quickly. In light of the high demand and limited space, the blocks will fill up fast. Now is the time to apply!

Connecticut: Veteran Solar State

Connecticut is an experienced state in regards to solar. The state will release Year 8 of the ZREC (Zero-Emission Renewable Energy Credit) Program in April 2019, providing another chance for commercial customers to obtain contracts with one of the two utilities (Eversource & UI). Through the program, utilities agree to purchase the renewable energy credits from the system, delivering the system owner a 15-year guaranteed revenue stream. Year 8 could be the last year of the ZREC program as the utilities look to transition into a “buy-all-sell-all” program. However, Governor Ned Lamont’s team has been trying to push through a pro-renewable bill to follow the end of the ZREC program.

Rhode Island: Emerging Market of the Northeast

Rhode Island may be small in size, but it is shaping up to be a booming state for solar this year. National Grid will again have three rounds of the Renewable Energy Growth Program in 2019 (April, June and October). The program will most likely fill up in the the April and June rounds due to the high demand from commercial customers. The Renewable Energy Fund (July 2019 deadline) also provides net metering grants, allowing commercial customers to receive credit on any excess energy their solar systems export to the grid. Since Rhode Island provides two different and lucrative solar incentives, the demand for commercial solar projects will likely be very high in 2019.

Minnesota: Solar Champion in the Midwest

Minnesota is one of the best states for solar in the Midwest. In 2018, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approved restoring the Demand Credit Rider, a rate-based solar incentive available to solar systems larger than 40kW in the Xcel Energy territory. The Demand Credit Rider pays a higher rate for all solar production between the hours of 1 PM and 7 PM. Minnesota is also home to one of the most prolific Community Solar programs in the country; Community Solar Gardens in Xcel Energy can be sized up to 5MW and allow commercial customers to take advantage of a host of benefits.

Have questions about how you can take advantage of all the solar incentives your state has to offer? Contact PowerFlex today.