With so much going on the renewable energy world it’s no wonder that the Interstate Renewable Energy Council had to recognize four states in its IREC’s 2017 Clean Energy States Honor Roll across different categories. This year it recognized Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota and Utah for their policy efforts to bring more renewable energy into their borders.
All but Maryland were directly recognized for work to bring more solar into their states. Maryland was recognized as the “Most Charged for Storage” as the first state in the nation to adopt an energy storage incentive program and for tackling regulatory reforms that will help enable more energy storage. Energy storage will also help the state incorporate more renewable energy, which will help as its new community solar pilot projects get underway.
“Maryland is working to address numerous critical issues related to energy storage through two separate workgroups, for energy storage and interconnection,” said IREC President Larry Sherwood in a post about the awards. “The state’s Power Plant Research Project is working on a comprehensive energy storage study to determine what regulatory reforms and market incentives are necessary or beneficial to increase the use of stored energy,” he added.
Illinois was recognized as the state with the “Most Creative Policy Solution.” IREC recognized Illinois for enacting the Future Energy Jobs Act into law. Sherwood called the law noteworthy for many reasons. “It will spur a strong clean energy economy in the state for decades to come,” he said.
Sherwood noted the law includes a strong clean energy jobs component, ensuring it has a well-trained local workforce; that the “Illinois Solar For All” program will ensure solar policies benefit all citizens of the state, including low-income residents and the new community solar program the law included. “These initiatives will help ensure that clean energy growth in the state will create widespread economic and social justice opportunities, while also tackling critical environmental challenges,” he said.
With extremely strong community solar growth Minnesota was recognized as the state with the “Most Growth Potential.” The recognition comes as the Xcel Energy’s once stalled community solar program has taken off and is slated for continual growth, much of it facilitated by a “collaborative stakeholder effort” to address current interconnection issues in the state.
“Today, some 100 new community solar projects are now on line in Xcel’s service territory, providing about 170 Megawatts of new solar, and the market is only expected to grow. Other Minnesota utilities, like MN Power, are also establishing community solar programs,” Sherwood explained.
The state is still working to revise and update interconnection procedures. The current proposed reforms are largely based on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Small Generator Interconnection Procedures (FERC SGIP) and revised to incorporate additional improvements from IREC’s Model Interconnection Procedures and other best practices, according to Sherwood.
“Minnesota is tackling a number of related efforts to support future growth of distributed clean energy resources—such as rooftop solar, wind and energy storage,” Sherwood observed. “Leading the way in the Midwest on grid modernization, Minnesota also plans to tackle bigger issues to improve the financial and technical incentives to integrate more renewable energy.”
Utah was recognized as the “Most Surprising” state in the honor roll. IREC recognized it for becoming sixth in the nation for installed solar capacity in 2016 and for reaching a net-metering settlement in the state protecting existing solar customers and preserving more than 4,400 solar jobs in the state.
Sherwood remarked that Utah has quietly become a leader in renewable energy and solar capacity. “In spite of the state’s strong fossil fuel industrial history and a traditionally conservative political leaning,” he said.
The state is still working on the future of net metering in the state, but under a recent agreement existing rooftop solar customers are grandfathered into their existing net metering policy through up to 2035. Over the next three years new rooftop solar customers can sign up to net-meter their installation at reduced compensation rates through. The state should have a “export credit rate” in place after that.
“Utah also set an impressive 10-year solar deployment plan in 2017, supported by the US Department of Energy Solar Market Pathways initiative," Sherwood observed. “Developed by Utah Clean Energy and Salt Lake City, with input from numerous diverse stakeholders, this plan clearly lays out the actions needed to ensure Utah’s solar future remains bright and prosperous.”
Given the diversity of the states that made this year’s IREC honor roll and the different policies that helped them get there, it can be expected that in future years states’ policies will continue to evolve to incorporate more wind and solar power, as well as energy storage.Tweet