Posts Tagged ‘Policy’

New Resources for Promoting Solar-Friendly North Carolina Homeowners’ Associations

Posted on: September 30th, 2014 by shannonhelm

 

RALEIGH, NC (September 30, 2014) -– Working under the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Solar Outreach Partnership, the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center (formerly the N.C. Solar Center) and The Solar Foundation today announced the release of two new resources for North Carolina homeowners’ associations. The first, a short brochure entitled The Benefits of Going Solar: A Resource for North Carolina Homeowners’ Associations, outlines the substantial financial and environmental benefits attached to investments in residential solar. Complementing this resource is a set of model design guidelines aimed at providing HOAs with a strong starting point for developing their own solar policies.

North Carolina currently has just over 11 megawatts of residential solar photovoltaic capacity, with about 15 percent of this total installed in the first half of 2014 alone. As demand for residential solar continues to grow across the state, more homeowners’ associations are finding the need to adopt design rules that accommodate their residents’ desire to “go solar” while still protecting legitimate competing community interests. To help fulfill this need, the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center and The Solar Foundation are leading an educational outreach campaign for HOAs throughout North Carolina. With these resources, HOA board members and architectural review committees will better understand the benefits solar can provide to their communities and get a head-start on drafting solar-friendly design guidelines that also address the legitimate concerns of the community.

“What we are finding with many community associations is that they are generally receptive to seeing more residential solar, but are unsure how to allow this development to occur in a balanced way,” said Philip Haddix, Program Director with The Solar Foundation. “It is our hope that our model guidelines and continued efforts to engage associations across the state will go a long way in helping folks better understand and think through these issues.”

Last Thursday, representatives from the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center, The Solar Foundation, and the Rose Walk HOA in Carrboro presented on the role of HOAs in solar development at the North Carolina Community Associations Institute (N.C. CAI) conference in Durham. A large number of copies of both documents were distributed to attendees and the messages and recommendations conveyed within were well-received.

“If the residential solar market is going to take off like utility-scale solar has here in North Carolina, we’ll need to minimize barriers,” said Autumn Proudlove, Policy Analyst at the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center. “We hope that HOAs will utilize these resources to create their own solar guidelines that facilitate solar installations while addressing other community interests.”

To obtain a copy of these resources, please click here. North Carolina community associations interested in learning about these efforts and possibly receiving assistance in bringing more solar to their communities can contact Philip Haddix (phaddix@solarfound.org) or Autumn Proudlove (afproudl@ncsu.edu).

 

About the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center

The N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center, as part of the College of Engineering at North Carolina State University, advances a sustainable energy economy by educating, demonstrating and providing support for clean energy technologies, practices and policies. It serves as a resource for innovative, green energy technologies through technology demonstration, technical assistance, outreach and training. For more information about the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center, visit: http://www.nccleantech.ncsu.edu. Twitter: @NCCleanTech

About The Solar Foundation

The Solar Foundation (TSF) is a leading provider of high-quality economic impact analyses on the solar industry, a trusted technical assistance provider for public sector implementation, and a solar schools champion. Founded in 1977 as an independent nonprofit, its mission is to increase understanding of solar energy through strategic research that educates the public and transforms markets. While TSF recognizes that solar energy is a key part of our energy future, it is committed to excellence in its aim to help the public fairly and objectively gauge the value of the solar industry worldwide. More at: www.TheSolarFoundation.org

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New Report Refocusing the Net Metering Debate on Steps to Enable Solar Cost Reductions

Posted on: August 5th, 2014 by shannonhelm

 

RALEIGH, NC and BOSTON, MA (August 5, 2014) – Today, as part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Solar Outreach Partnership (SolarOPs), the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center (formerly the N.C. Solar Center) and Meister Consultants Group (MCG) announced the release of  “Rethinking Standby and Fixed Cost Charges: Regulatory & Rate Design Pathways to Deeper Solar PV Cost Reductions”.
 
In recent years, over 20 states have taken steps to allow (or consider allowing for) new standby and fixed cost charges, with varying degrees of success, and resulting in contentious debates. The report, which includes a comprehensive national status update on state and local net energy metering (NEM) debates, outlines the ways in which solar-specific fees and charges can erase solar-related utility bill savings and derail non-hardware “soft” cost reductions. It concludes by recommending a fairer, more equitable approach that allows utilities to fully recover their costs and allow solar PV to continue to become more cost-effective.
 
“Recent discussions about solar in Massachusetts, California and elsewhere show that it is possible for utilities and the solar industry to avoid unduly contentious debates and agree on comprehensive approaches that allow solar to thrive and allow utilities to remain a solid long-term investment,” said Jim Kennerly, senior policy analyst and lead author of the report. “The regulatory and rate design pathways we recommend are intended to reframe a divisive debate and focus on constructive ‘win-win’ approaches that let utilities recover their costs and allow critical solar PV cost reductions to continue unabated.”
 
Overall, the report recommends that stakeholders broaden their focus beyond simply the emergence of solar and consider the varied reasons why utilities aren’t recovering their costs as easily (such as offshoring of manufacturing, continued investments in their infrastructure, sluggish economic growth and a growing number of their customers that use less). To address these challenges, the report recommends that utilities carefully consider a broad-based cost recovery strategy. The three components of this basic strategy are:
 

  • Revenue decoupling, which allows utilities to better recover their costs and encourage customers to save energy;
     

  • A “minimum monthly contribution”, which enables utilities to recover a critical degree of revenue from customers who are low- or zero net energy users; and

 

  • Mandatory time-differentiated (also known as time-of-use) pricing, which provides both solar and non-solar customers with transparent utility cost information (and minimizes a significant cost shift benefitting non-solar customers);

 

In tandem with the full report, the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center and Meister Consultants Group also released a 4-page executive summary of the report, as well as a separate state- and local-level “status update” for net metering debates in which actual or potential standby and fixed cost charges have played a key role.
 
“We are honored to work with the Department of Energy by participating in the SunShot Solar Outreach Partnership, including the development of this report,” said Steve Kalland, executive director of the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center. “As we work toward a Fall 2014 launch of the redesigned Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE), this report, and the suite of resources we are releasing with it, underscores our commitment to remaining a national leader in tracking and analyzing clean energy policy, as well as providing unbiased, beneficial technical and policy resources and assistance of the highest quality.”
 
To obtain copies of the full report, the separate 4-page executive summary and state and local net metering “status report,” please click here.

 

About the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center

The N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center, as part of the College of Engineering at North Carolina State University, advances a sustainable energy economy by educating, demonstrating and providing support for clean energy technologies, practices and policies. It serves as a resource for innovative, green energy technologies through technology demonstration, technical assistance, outreach and training. For more information about the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center, visit: http://www.nccleantech.ncsu.edu.  Twitter: @NCCleanTech

 

About Meister Consultants Group

Meister Consultants Group, Inc. (MCG) is an international consulting firm founded on the principle that global best practices can inform even the most localized decisions. Our extensive experience in both U.S. and international business and governmental affairs has made MCG a leader in the rapidly expanding sustainability field. By leveraging our international network of more than 100 consultants, we help our clients anticipate and adapt to the shifting global landscape. MCG specializes in alternative energy, environmental sustainability, international dialogue, and corporate responsibility. With affiliates in the United States, Europe and China, MCG uses innovative problem solving approaches to advise governments, corporations and non-profits on policy development, market strategy, program planning and change management.

N.C. Solar Center Releases Residential Customer Guides to Going Solar

Posted on: April 24th, 2014 by shannonhelm No Comments

 

Raleigh, N.C. – As part of its work under the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Solar Outreach Partnership, the N.C. Solar Center today announces the release of two new original resources: A Residential Customer’s Guide to Going Solar: Duke Energy Carolinas version and A Residential Customer’s Guide to Going Solar: Duke Energy Progress version.

North Carolina was ranked second in the nation for installed solar capacity in 2013, installing 400 MW of new capacity and climbing up three places from 2012 (according to the NPD Solarbuzz North American PV Markets Quarterly report). Most of this capacity in North Carolina comes from utility-scale solar installations, which highlights an opportunity to advance solar even more in the state by focusing on rooftop installations. These guides will support this effort by educating customers about solar and clarifying many of the misconceptions about the cost of going solar.

The guides focus on explaining, in easy to understand terms, the different financial options available to homeowners interested in going solar. These are broken up into incentives that reduce the upfront cost of going solar, such as tax credits and Duke Energy Progress’ SunSense program, and payback options that credit you for the energy produced by your solar photovoltaic (PV) system, like net metering and N.C. GreenPower.

In addition to a description of these options, the guides include a detailed analysis of the monthly and long-term utility bill savings that each option provides to the typical homeowner, using data specific to North Carolina cities. This allows customers to get an idea of how much a solar system costs in their particular region after all available incentives are factored in, as well as what kind of utility bill savings a typical PV owner in their area sees.

Overall, the guides show that with an average-sized residential system at typical market prices, customers of Duke Energy in North Carolina can save up to an average of $55/ month for the next 25 years on their utility bill with a system that can cost as little as $4,000, after incentives.

Versions of the guides can be viewed here: Duke Energy Carolinas and Duke Energy Progress. For more information about the Department of Energy’s SunShot Solar Outreach Partnership, please visit www.solaroutreach.org.

 

About the North Carolina Solar Center

The North Carolina Solar Center, as part of the College of Engineering at North Carolina State University advances a sustainable energy economy by educating, demonstrating and providing support for clean energy technologies, practices, and policies. It serves as a resource for innovative, green energy technologies through technology demonstration, technical assistance, outreach and training. For more information about the N.C. Solar Center visit: http://www.ncsc.ncsu.edu. Twitter: @NCSolarCenter

 

Media Contact: Shannon Helm, N.C. Solar Center, 919-423-8340, shannon_helm@ncsu.edu

Solar Center releases new case study, “Harmonizing Solar PV Permitting and Interconnection”

Posted on: September 30th, 2013 by shannon No Comments

The N.C. Solar Center has released a case study focusing on the City of Santa Clara, CA’s streamlined approach to addressing permitting and interconnection. In Santa Clara, rooftop solar PV installers can get one-stop, over-the-counter permitting and interconnection review for residential solar installations under 10kW. This case study was completed as part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Solar Outreach Partnership (SolarOPs).

Local governments with municipal utilities are uniquely positioned to perform permitting and interconnection reviews (and related inspections) for rooftop solar PV systems in an efficient and cost-effective manner, thereby reducing the “soft costs” associated with the system. Since the entire process is managed by the same municipal government, there exists an excellent opportunity to coordinate the permitting, inspection and interconnection process.

Click here for the full case study.

Property Taxes and Solar PV Systems: Policies, Practices and Issues report issued

Posted on: July 24th, 2013 by shannon No Comments

 

The N.C. Solar Center and Meister Consultants Group have released a report under the SunShot Solar Outreach Partnership on current state practices associated with the assessment and taxation of PV equipment. Property Taxes and Solar PV Systems: Policies, Practices, and Issues is intended as a resource for industry stakeholders, property owners, and state and local government officials involved in the administration of property taxes.

Property taxes can represent a significant ongoing cost for PV system owners, and under some circumstances may prove to be a determining factor in whether or not a facility is built. Many states have adopted policies specifically addressing how different types of PV systems should be valued for property tax purposes. However, the other states have not adopted such policies, and even explicit policies sometimes fail to fully address the myriad of different circumstances present in the current PV market. The frequent lack of clarity presents challenges for both owners of PV systems and government officials involved in the administration of property taxes, as each seeks to ascertain the appropriate treatment for solar PV systems and understand the implications it holds. The report covers how different states classify, assess, and tax PV property, the relative burden of property taxes in different jurisdictions, issues which complicate the assessment and taxation process, and strategies for resolving these issues.

 

Click here to read the entire report

Case Study: Solar in small communities

Posted on: May 16th, 2013 by shannon No Comments

 

The Solar in Small Communities: River Falls, WI case study explores the City of River Falls’ efforts to stimulate a local solar market, with a focus on the River Falls Municipal Utility (RFMU) Solar Feed-in Tariff program.  Together, RFMU, the local government, and the citizens of River Falls have developed a suite of energy programs for the community over the past 12 years.  Their success and continued dedication serves as a strong example of how a small community can work with its municipal utility to accelerate the development of a solar industry.

This case study was created as part of the North Carolina Solar Center’s efforts under the SunShot Solar Outreach Partnership, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative. As a member of this partnership, the North Carolina Solar Center provides information and technical expertise to local governments interested in implementing solar programs and policies.

Click here to read the entire case study.

Case study: What is the value of solar?

Posted on: May 16th, 2013 by shannon No Comments

The What is the Value of Solar?: Austin, Texas case study examines the Value of Solar tariff offered to Austin Energy’s residential solar customers in place of net metering. The Value of Solar tariff is an effort to move beyond net metering and more accurately measure the tangible and intangible benefits that solar energy systems add to an electric grid. The case study explains the design, development and implementation of the Austin Energy VOS and examines how replicable the tariff could be for state and local governments looking to encourage solar energy development.

This case study was created as part of the North Carolina Solar Center’s efforts under the SunShot Solar Outreach Partnership, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative. As a member of this partnership, the North Carolina Solar Center provides information and technical expertise to local governments interested in implementing solar programs and policies.

Click here to read the entire case study.

Push to end NC’s renewable energy program ends in NC House committee

Posted on: April 25th, 2013 by shannon No Comments

RALEIGH — The push to terminate North Carolina’s renewables program is over for the foreseeable future after a House committee in the state legislature defeated the measure with the help of key Republicans.

The vote in Raleigh was closely watched by national conservative organizations that had targeted North Carolina as the first domino in a national strategy of toppling green-energy policies in more than two dozen states.

Sixteen conservative organizations – including the American Conservative Union, Americans for Tax Reform and The Heartland Institute – made a final push for North Carolina’s bill this week with a letter urging lawmakers that it was their “moral obligation” to oppose government programs that interfere with free markets.

Despite the presence of a pair of Americans for Prosperity representatives on hand to remind lawmakers that “other states are watching,” the bill was defeated with the help of a half-dozen Republicans, including three of the most powerful legislators in the state House.

The Committee on Public Utilities and Energy voted 18-13 on Wednesday to kill the proposal that would have ended the state’s 6-year-old policy of subsidizing solar farms and other forms of renewable energy.

After the vote, Dallas Woodhouse, North Carolina director for the Arlington, Va.-based Americans for Prosperity, could barely contain his anger.

“This was a horrible vote by Republicans, and they need to be held accountable,” Woodhouse said. “And that’s all I’m going to say.”

Those who voted against ending the state’s renewables program included longtime supporters of solar power and other clean technologies. Also voting against were those who are wary of dismantling a complex state policy, which had taken months to negotiate, after a brief 30-minute debate.

But the nays also included Republicans whose districts have recruited businesses and added jobs during a severe economic downturn as a result of the program. Since its adoption in 2007, the state’s renewables policy has turned North Carolina into the nation’s fifth-largest developer of solar energy.

“It was based off local issues back home,” Rep. Tim Moore of Cleveland County, who also chairs the powerful House Rules Committee, said after the vote. “I would have had a difficult time talking to a CEO who just brought 300 jobs to Cleveland County [and telling him] that I’m going to vote to eliminate this program that justified their investment.”

Other Republican leaders voting against the bill were Conference Leader Ruth Samuelson of Mecklenburg County and Wake County’s Nelson Dollar, senior chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

Samuelson said she had expected the vote to go either way by a single vote.

“It’s a very complicated issue,” she said, “and we were only getting one side of it.”

 

Hager’s fight for the bill

The chairman of the Public Utilities Committee, Rep. Mike Hager of Rutherford County, has met resistance on the bill ever since he introduced it two months ago. He delayed scheduling votes and several times watered down the proposal to make it more palatable.

With Wednesday’s vote taking place in a committee Hager runs as chairman, where he can schedule or withhold colleague’s bills, his legislation was thought to have the equivalent of a home-field advantage.

Hager, a former engineer for Duke Energy, said the bill would end a state policy of subsidies for industries that will never be able to compete with natural gas and nuclear power. He said the state is achieving little but increasing utility bills to subsidize developers of alternative energy.

“Do you want your kids, your grandkids, your great-grandkids paying a subsidy that lasts forever?” Hager asked members of his committee. “If you feed the bears, they don’t know how to look for food anywhere else.”

State law requires that at least 12.5 percent of retail power sales of electric utilities come from renewables and energy efficiency programs by 2021. Hager suggested shrinking the mandate to 3 percent, then said he could live with a 6 percent cap.

In Wednesday’s version, Hager agreed to keep the standard at 12.5 percent, to be dropped to zero in 2021. Under that version, Duke Energy and others could let their existing energy contracts run out and wouldn’t have to renew deals to buy or generate more electricity from solar, wind, biomass or offset by conservation programs.

Hager left the meeting room immediately after the vote and wasn’t available for comment.

 

Constituent concerns

Moore said he almost always votes with Hager, but told his colleague before the committee meeting that he could not support the elimination of the state’s renewable energy policy. His district includes a $27 million manufacturing facility in Shelby being developed by Schletter, an Arizona company that makes mounts and brackets for solar farms.

Moore said the expansion of solar farms is popular with farmers in his district and with his local chamber of commerce.

Before the vote, John Morrison, chief operating officer for Chapel Hill-based Strata Solar, told the committee his company is the fourth-largest solar developer in the nation, thanks to the state’s policy.

He also said that the cost of solar power has dropped significantly in recent years, and noted that the subsidy in electricity rates for solar is almost down to zero for solar farms now under development.

 

Power company costs

The 2007 state law that requires renewables allows electric utilities to collect the costs from customers, just as the utilities recover their costs for building transmission lines and power plants.

Currently Duke Energy residential customers pay 22 cents a month, while Progress Energy residential customers pay 42 cents a month, to subsidize renewables.

Duke’s commercial customers pay $3.29 a month, and Progress’s commercial customers pay $7.28 a month.

Duke’s industrial customers pay $20.29, and Progress’s pay $34.32 a month.

These subsidies represent a premium paid to make the projects profitable.

The program has catapulted solar farms to the forefront of the state’s energy landscape, but electricity produced from wind, poultry waste and swine waste is still in the early stages.

Democratic Rep. Paul Luebke of Durham, who voted against Hager’s bill, said he was pleased by the wide margin of defeat.

“It is the first victory in three years that I’ve had,” Luebke said. “It was refreshing to see a bipartisan majority.”

 

Written by: Raleigh News & Observer

New case study examines how medium-sized communities can enable solar development

Posted on: April 4th, 2013 by shannon No Comments

The Solar in Small Communities:Gaston County, NC case study examines how a medium-sized community can enable and encourage solar development in their community. The case study aims to share Gaston County’s efforts with other local governments as a testimony to the successful installation of solar energy on a local government facility and details the lessons learned from the experience. The case study also provides guidance for other local governments looking to install solar energy on municipal property.

This case study was created as part of the North Carolina Solar Center’s efforts under the SunShot Solar Outreach Partnership, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative. As a member of this partnership, the North Carolina Solar Center provides information and technical expertise to local governments interested in implementing solar programs and policies.

Case Study: Solar in Small Communities

Posted on: March 7th, 2013 by shannon No Comments

 

The Solar in Small Communities: Columbia, MO case study examines how a medium-sized community can enable and encourage solar development in their community. The case study aims to share  Columbia’s efforts with other local governments as a testimony to the impact local governments can have on a state solar market. The primary focus is on the unique efforts that it has made using its municipal utility, which include creating a utility renewable energy standard with a specific solar target, authorizing net metering, offering solar rebates to customers, and pursuing solar PPAs with local commercial businesses and installations on city government property.

This case study was created as part of the N.C. Solar Center’s efforts under the SunShot Solar Outreach Partnership, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative. As a member of this partnership, the North Carolina Solar Center provides information and technical expertise to local governments interested in implementing solar programs and policies.

Click here to read the case study.