More states are adopting shared renewables measures, which allow projects like community solar farms to help people and businesses use renewable energy when they can’t install it on their own properties or buildings. The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) just released its National Shared Renewables Scorecard ranking states and Washington, DC on their efforts to support shared renewables in their jurisdictions.
“More states are adopting shared renewable energy programs as a means to ensure more consumers can benefit from clean, renewable energy—including lower income households, multi-family dwellers and underserved communities,” explained IREC President/CEO Larry Sherwood. “And they are realizing the economic and environmental benefits of these programs.”
The report, now in its second edition, only gave two of the 17 states in the scorecard A ratings, Minnesota and New York. Minnesota’s Solar*Rewards Community program from Xcel Energy received an A and New York’s Community Distributed Generation program received an A-. The organization said that both programs incorporate the majority of shared renewables best practices it recognizes.
“States play an important role in scaling successful shared renewables programs that benefit customers and increase the amount of clean energy on the electric grid,” said IREC Regulatory Director Sara Baldwin Auck. “IREC’s National Scorecard offers a glimpse into how states are performing relative to best practices and each other, shedding light on strengths and opportunities for improvement.”
The scorecard evaluates states’ shared renewables programs including the eligible customers and subscriptions, generation systems and the technologies covered, bill credit rates and more. At this point it rated 13 states and Washington, DC on their programs. It also noted that Illinois, New Jersey, and Oregon are in the process of implementing shared renewables programs.
Others are recognizing the importance of the scorecard. “The community solar industry is investing billions of dollars in leading states like Minnesota, Massachusetts and New York, providing tens of thousands of customers bill savings and access to local community solar,” said Jeff Cramer, executive director at the Coalition for Community Solar Access. “Tools like the IREC Scorecard can help lead other states to achieve the same economic, jobs, grid and environmental benefits by identifying program areas in need of improvement and allowing new state programs to learn from the best practices of leading markets.”
The scorecard is evaluating mandated policies. However IREC noted that more than half of the states in the US have some sort of shared renewables program as some utilities have created voluntary community solar projects.
The scorecard is evolving as states increase their interest in shared solar projects and mandates. For instance, this year it gave states with at least 10 megawatts of installed community solar projects extra credit.
“IREC’s scoring criteria reflect how shared renewable energy programs are performing—not just in terms of what policies and rules are in place, but also whether the programs are resulting in projects getting built and customers participating,” says Mari Hernandez, program manager with IREC. “Importantly, some external factors not reflected in the scorecard grades impact how well a program performs, such as land use policies and rate design.”Tweet