Last week found that most states in the US are taking actions to change policies related to rooftop solar power that could change the value of solar power. A new set of tools is being made available in the southeast US to help people learn about costs and incentives for solar and states are adding in stronger community solar programs.
The N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) tracks policy proposals and changes that impact distributed solar power like rooftop solar. In the third quarter of 2018 it found that 45 states introduced or took 157 policy actions that could impact the costs and benefits of solar panels on homes. Many of the actions proposed or enacted were regarding fixed charges, net metering, distributed solar valuation, customer fees, and grid-planning.
In the southeastern US solar has been growing rapidly, particularly on the utility-scale side, but more utilities, like Duke Energy, are also incentivizing rooftop solar in the region. Last week the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) introduced a new tool showing residents in southeastern states whether or not their utility is encouraging rooftop solar power or discouraging. It shows whether utilities offer net-metering and whether or not they have fixed charges for customers with solar power. In one instance the tool found that a utility’s $53 monthly charge on rooftop solar would add up to $19,080 in utility fees over the 30-year life of a solar system. That’s more than the $11,382 cost of the system.
Community solar also continues to grow across the US and a new scorecard from the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) evaluates programs across the US. Its new National Shared Renewables Scorecard found that Minnesota and New York are currently leading the US with their shared renewables programs. It also found that 17 states now have shared energy programs, allowing residents and businesses to purchase power from renewable energy installations.
Community solar can also benefit from some of the technologies that can help utility-scale solar farms be more beneficial to the electric grid. A new study from Energy and Environmental Economics, sponsored by First Solar, found that tools existing in solar farms can provide flexibility to help balance energy on the electric grid. By using those tools to quickly respond to changes on the electric grid solar power can help regulate the amount of electricity on the electric grid even faster than changing generation capacity at natural gas and other plants, the study found.Tweet