The 50 States of Solar Report: 42 States Took Action on Distributed Solar Policy and Rate Design during Q3 2016

 
Raleigh, N.C. – (October 25, 2016) The N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) released its Q3 2016 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 Q3 2016

 
The report finds that 42 states and the District of Columbia took some form of solar policy action during Q3 2016 (see figure below). Specifically, the report finds that:

• 44 utilities in 25 states plus D.C. had pending or decided requests to increase monthly fixed charges on all residential customers by at least 10%.

• 22 states considered or enacted changes to net metering policies.

• 15 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.

• 9 states took policy action on community solar.

• 9 utilities in 7 states proposed adding new or increasing existing charges specific to rooftop solar customers.

• 3 states had policy action on third-party solar ownership laws or regulations.

• 3 states had action on utility-owned rooftop solar policies or programs.
 
Autumn Proudlove, lead author of the report and Senior Policy Analyst at the NCCETC, said, “We’re continuing to see more states consider changes to net metering credit rates, and more recently, to credit rates for community solar subscribers. However, there is much debate over what these rates should be set at – proposals range from avoided cost to value of solar to time-varying or location-based rates.”
 
For the second quarter in a row, utility proposals to increase residential fixed charges were the most common type of solar policy and rate design action. All ten residential fixed charge decisions made during Q3 2016 granted utilities at least a partial increase, with utilities receiving on average 53% of their requested increase. This is in contrast to Q2 2016, in which most utilities were not granted any fixed charge increase.
 

Q3 2016 Policy Action on Net Metering, Rate Design, and Solar Ownership

Q3 2016 Policy Action on Net Metering, Rate Design, and Solar Ownership
 
A total of 117 state and utility-level distributed solar policy and rate changes were proposed, pending, or enacted in Q3 2016. The report notes the top five policy developments of Q3 2016 were:

• The Arizona Corporation Commission delaying a decision on demand charges and net metering in the UNS Electric rate case until the state’s value of distributed generation proceeding concludes;

• The Public Utilities Commission of Nevada approving a settlement agreement grandfathering existing net metering customers in the state;

• The Arkansas Public Service Commission evaluating net metering credit rate issues;

• A pending Xcel Energy Colorado settlement agreement dropping proposed grid access charges in favor of time-of-use rates; and

• The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners releasing a draft distributed energy resource compensation manual.

“Overall there’s been a shift away from abrupt changes to net metering policies,” noted David Sarkisian, report co-author and Policy Analyst at the NCCETC. “More states are now conducting valuation studies and stakeholder proceedings, implementing pilot programs, and proposing gradual changes, rather than enacting drastic changes to net metering.”

Click here to view and download the Executive Summary of the report.

 

Click here to view and purchase the entire report.

 

Click here to view previous 50 States of Solar Quarterly Reports.