Rooftop solar power is taking hold in many states, often to the frustration of utilities that complain that rooftop solar customers aren’t paying their fair share of the grid’s use, particularly because they put energy back on the grid. This is leading to new and more nuanced discussions, policy actions and regulations in states where rooftop solar is well established, liked Arizona and those states just wading into the quagmire of solar policy, like Arkansas.
Looking into 2017 and beyond Utility Dive’s Krysti Shallenberger and industry experts delved into where the hottest rooftop solar debates in 2017 and beyond will be. This is particularly important as more states are taking on rooftop solar policies. For instance, 47 states took a total of 212 solar policy actions in 2016, up from 175 actions 2015, according to the recent NC Clean Energy Technology Center’s (NCCETC’s) The 50 States of Solar Report.
“The explosive growth of the rooftop solar market over the last several years may be slowing down, but the policy debates are not,” Shallenberger wrote. “If the numbers show us anything, it's that more and more states are tackling complex proceedings over the proper compensation for distributed generation—particularly rooftop solar.”
The top 10 states for solar rooftop debates, according to Shallenberger are Arizona, Illinois, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Arkansas, Utah, Maine, Nevada and Hawaii. The list is interesting for the mix of states and their current stage of their rooftop solar markets. Nevada, Arizona and Hawaii have had strong rooftop solar markets where incentive programs have reached their capacity and utilities are trying to change policy to reduce incentives for rooftop solar.
In Massachusetts, which continues to expand its solar incentive programs, the debate is over how to keep expanding the rooftop solar industry and put a more permanent fix in place than the flow and ebb cycles encouraged by the renewable energy credit system that’s been in place and constantly expanded as it reaches capacity.
“Some of these cases will likely not be resolved until 2018 or later, but they highlight the evolution from simple, financial fixes to net metering to more sophisticated debates over rate design,” Shallenberger said. Increasingly, however, as the prices of solar power have dropped and federal incentives have been given more certainty—even under a Trump Administration and Republican Congress, the debate over rooftop solar is moving to states.Tweet