In the third quarter, 2018 edition of the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) of The 50 States of Solar, the center found that almost all states, 45, took policy actions on distributed solar power and rate designs. Overall 157 actions were taken in the states in the third quarter, with the majority surrounding customer fees, grid planning and solar compensation and metering issues.
“The future of solar compensation is trending toward increasingly complex structures,” said report Author Autumn Proudlove, senior manager of policy research at NCCETC. “Some states are identifying the locational value of DERs, while others are piloting time-varying credits or considering demand and grid access charges.”
The quarterly report provides insight into how states, policymakers and utilities are impacting the growth of rooftop and commercial solar power across the country and whether the actions taken are good for consumers and the industry or challenging it. It focusses on issues including residential fixed charges, and demand and solar charges, as well as net metering, distributed solar valuation, community solar, third-party ownership, and utility-led rooftop solar programs.
“With almost every state examining its solar policies, the level of conversation has grown deeper and more complex,” contended Brian Lips, Senior Policy Project Manager at NCCETC. “We are now seeing an increasing convergence between solar policy and grid modernization discussions, with a number of states using their distribution system planning efforts to create more fine-tuned DER compensation measures.”
The number of states and policy actions that took place in the third quarter of 2018 is reflective of increasing actions lately. For instance in the full year of 2017 45 states took actions with a total of 249 policy actions imposed or proposed.
The most active states refining their approach to rooftop solar in the quarter were Arizona, California, New York, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, and Virginia, according to NCCETC. The center saw an increase in proposals on customer fees as well as whether utilities or homeowners should pay for the costs of additional meters. It also saw an uptick in how grid modernization can relate to the locational value of solar power. The majority of active states have been positive towards rooftop solar in the past.
The biggest policy developments that will impact distributed from the recent quarter were in Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, New Mexico and South Carolina. In Kansas the state corporation commission approved a mandatory demand charge for Westar’s residential solar customers, two Michigan utilities filed for successors to their net-metering programs, and a short-term net-metering compromise was made in South Carolina, extending the program until a long-term fix could be implemented.
In Arizona regulators approved net billing credit rates for Tucson Electric Power and UNS Electric. They also denied distributed generation rate design proposal from the utilities. Meanwhile in neighboring New Mexico regulators ended Xcel Energy’s standby charge for distributed generation customers.Tweet