The 50 States of Solar: Net Metering Reforms Lead Solar Policy Activity in 2020
Raleigh, NC – (January 27, 2021) The N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) released its 2020 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.
The report finds that 46 states and the District of Columbia took some type of distributed solar policy action during 2020 (see figure below), with the greatest number of actions relating to net metering policies, community solar policies, and residential fixed charge increases. The states taking the greatest number of actions include Virginia, California, New York, Maine, and South Carolina.
2020 Policy Action on Net Metering, Rate Design, and Solar Ownership
The report highlights ten of the top distributed solar policy trends of 2020:
- Utilities proposing additional fees based on DG system capacity;
- States adopting unique net metering successor policies;
- States facing challenges with low-income community solar participation;
- Net metering successor tariffs being considered on a utility by utility basis;
- States and utilities considering time-of-use crediting for net metering customers;
- Utilities continuing to propose fewer and smaller residential fixed charge increases:
- Interest growing in minimum bills as a DG rate design element;
- States considering expansion of existing community solar programs;
- Strong movement away from mandatory residential demand charges; and
- States establishing timelines for net metering successor transitions.
“As states consider changes to the mechanisms by which customer-generators are credited for their exports, the stage is set for further evolution in the future, noted Brian Lips, Senior Policy Project manager at NCCETC. “In 2020, policymakers in a number of states opted to retain their current net metering policies while opening the door to new rules in the future.”
A total of 257 state and utility level distributed solar policy and rate changes were proposed, pending, or decided in 2020. The report notes that ten of the most active states in 2020 for solar policy developments were:
- Virginia, where state lawmakers enacted bills amending net metering and third-party ownership rules and adopting shared solar and multi-family shared solar programs;
- South Carolina, where Dominion Energy and Duke Energy filed net metering successor tariff proposals including credit rate changes and additional monthly fees;
- Arkansas, where regulators issued a decision on a net metering successor tariff, maintaining retail rate net metering for the time being and authorizing a new grid charge for larger customer-generators;
- Kentucky, where three utilities filed net metering successor tariff proposals crediting excess generation at avoided cost rates;
- New York, where the Public Service Commission issued a decision adopting a net metering successor tariff for mass market projects interconnected after 2022;
- Connecticut, where regulators worked toward the development of a net metering successor tariff and released a draft value of distributed energy resources study;
- California, where regulators opened a new proceeding for the development of Net Metering 3.0 tariffs and released a study examining the costs to serve net metering customers;
- Idaho, where the Public Utilities Commission considered a number of net metering proposals and directed PacifiCorp to conduct a study of on-site generation;
- Utah, where regulators issued a decision on Rocky Mountain Power’s proposed export credit rates for customer-generators; and
- Michigan, where the Public Service Commission approved inflow-outflow tariffs for Indiana Michigan Power and Consumers Energy, while directing the Commission Staff to conduct a value of distributed energy resources study.
“Net metering reforms led solar policy activity in 2020, with states and utilities taking very individual approaches to net metering successor tariff development,” said Autumn Proudlove, lead author of the report and Senior Manager of Policy Research at NCCETC. “We expect to see this trend continue in 2021, as states consider a variety of netting intervals, credit rates, and fees.”
In Q4 2020, 39 states and D.C. took some type of action on distributed solar policy or rate design. A total of 140 actions were tracked in Q4.
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, sustainable energy technologies through technology demonstration, technical assistance, outreach and training. For more information about the Center, visit: http://www.nccleantech.