The 50 States of Solar Report: 2017 Annual Review & Q4 Update Edition Now Available

The 50 States of Solar Report: 45 States and DC Took 249 Distributed Solar Policy and Rate Design Actions During 2017

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Raleigh, N.C. – (January 24, 2017) The N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) released its 2017 annual review and Q4 update edition of The 50 States of Solar. The quarterly series provides insights on state regulatory and legislative discussions and actions on distributed solar policy, with a focus on net metering, distributed solar valuation, community solar, residential fixed charges, residential demand and solar charges, third-party ownership, and utility-led rooftop solar programs.

Key Solar Policy Actions in 2017

The report finds that 45 states and the District of Columbia took some type of solar policy action during 2017 (see figure below). Specifically, the report finds that:

  • 84 utility requests in 35 states plus D.C. to increase monthly fixed charges or minimum bills on all residential customers by at least 10% were pending or decided.
  • 31 states plus D.C. considered or enacted changes to distributed generation compensation policies.
  • 21 states plus D.C. formally examined or resolved to examine some element of the value of distributed generation or the costs and benefits of net metering.
  • 21 states took policy action on community solar.
  • 19 utility requests in 10 states to add new or increase existing charges specific to rooftop solar customers were pending or decided.
  • 8 states had policy action on third-party solar ownership laws or regulations.
  • 6 states had action on utility-owned rooftop solar policies or programs.
2017 Policy Action on Net Metering, Rate Design, and Solar Ownership

Action on community solar policies and residential fixed charges continued to climb in 2017, while net metering discussions spread to new states.

Forty-four utility requests to increase residential fixed charges were decided in 2017, with 86 percent receiving either a portion of the requested increase or no increase at all. Only six utilities were granted their full requested increases. Of those utilities receiving a partial increase, the average was 26 percent of the utility’s original request.

“There has been a steady increase in activity across the country since we started tracking this information in 2015,” observed Brian Lips, Senior Policy Project Manager at NCCETC. “As the solar industry continues to grow and mature, we are seeing historic levels of activity with state policymakers working hard to adapt existing regulatory frameworks to new paradigms.”

A total of 249 state and utility level distributed solar policy and rate changes were proposed, pending, or decided in 2017. This represents an increase in activity over both 2016 (212 actions) and 2015 (175 actions.) The report notes the top ten most active states in 2017 for solar policy developments were:

  • Nevada, where the state legislature restored retail rate net metering, and regulators ordered a decrease in Nevada Power’s residential fixed charge;
  • North Carolina, where comprehensive solar policy legislation initiated net metering reforms and a DG cost-benefit study, adopted a community solar policy, and authorized solar leasing;
  • New York, where a value of distributed energy resources tariff was approved, with working groups continuing to work on the tariff;
  • Hawaii, where a new smart export tariff was adopted, community solar rules were approved, and all three investor-owned utilities had pending fixed charge increases.
  • Maine, where a net metering successor tariff was adopted, while legislation calling for changes to the tariff and a study was vetoed;
  • Arizona, where proceedings to determine DG rate design and excess generation credit rates were underway, and a settlement for Arizona Public Service was approved;
  • New Hampshire, where a net metering successor decision was issued, a value of DERs study was initiated, and two rate cases were decided;
  • Virginia, where the state legislature enacted net metering changes, a community solar pilot program, and a third-party PPA pilot program;
  • Michigan, where a net metering study and successor tariff proceeding were underway, in addition to several utility requests to increase residential fixed charges; and
  • Utah, where regulators issued a net metering successor tariff decision and initiated a new proceeding to determine a more permanent export credit rate.

“While 2017 was marked by greater uncertainty than usual at the federal level, state-level action continued to increase, with major solar policy reforms under consideration in a growing number of states,” said Autumn Proudlove, lead author of the report and Manager of Policy Research at NCCETC. “We expect this trend to continue, as part of a broader shift in the country’s energy system.”

In Q4 2017, 42 states and D.C. took some type of action on distributed solar policy or rate design. A total of 141 actions were tracked in Q4.

Media Contact: Shannon Helm, Communications Director, 919-423-8340

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