This week in democratic energy, media reports covered South Carolina’s net metering deal, Minnesota’s Solar Rewards Community program, and more.
From Switchboard, the Natural Resources Defense Council Staff Blog, Pierre Bull discussed a recent report that highlights which states excel and which states lag in promoting solar. Bull writes:
“Knowledge is power, or at least the first step toward it…”
“That’s why, especially at this time when solar is under attack in so many state utility commissions, it’s exciting that our friends and colleagues at the advocacy groups Vote Solar and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council last week released their eighth annual report on state solar interconnection and net metering rules, called Freeing The Grid: Best Practices in State Net Metering and Interconnection Policies.
Wonky though it may sound, the report is actually cram-packed with accessible information about rules and policies each of the 50 states uses to either speed or hinder the expansion of solar energy. It’s information advocates and activists like you and me can use to improve solar policies at the state level where so many of them are decided.”
A new report by Environment Colorado Research and Policy Center found that Colorado could get 20 percent of its energy from solar power by 2025. Nora Caley of SolarIndustryMag.com writes:
“The report recommends that the state, municipalities and utilities should maintain strong net-metering programs, promote community solar and virtual net-metering, facilitate third-party sales of solar power for solar leasing programs, and invest in a more intelligent electric grid that will enable distributed solar to play a larger role.”
The report also encourages the U.S. federal government to commit to installing and building solar on government buildings, obtain at least 10% of the nation’s electricity from solar energy by 2030, and strengthen and finalize the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan.
In other news, South Carolina became the 44th state to adopt net metering, with utilities, the solar industry, and conservationists reaching a comprehensive agreement. Julia Pyper of Greentech Media reports:
“‘[The agreement] paves the way for South Carolina to become a solar market,’ said Bryan Miller, president of The Alliance for Solar Choice. ‘To be clear, it’s not a solar market today; there’s been too much regulatory uncertainty. So this goes a long way to creating a path for people to go solar and take their own energy destiny into their hands.’”
In Austin, Texas, the city council approved a plan to get 55 percent of its energy from renewable and clean energy sources by 2025. Jeff St. John of Greentech Media writes that the plan calls for the city to get 55 percent of its generation from renewables by 2025, 800-900 megawatts of energy efficiency and demand response, and a significant investment in energy storage over the next decade.
In New York, Governor Cuomo announced the state will be implementing five new reforms as part of its “Reforming the Energy Vision” strategy. From the Saugerties Post Star:
“…The actions announced today will put into motion five new reforms enabling further growth of the local clean energy industry and modernizing how the utility sector operates—critical efforts expected to bring new jobs to the state.”
“‘These steps will help provide New Yorkers with clean, more affordable and reliable energy while also strengthening New York’s energy grid,’ Governor Cuomo said. ‘We are investing in a sustainable, local energy future, which will help the energy industry produce more clean power and move New York’s economy forward.’”
In Minnesota, Xcel began accepting applications for its Solar Rewards Community program. Frank Jossi of Midwest Energy News reports:
“‘It’s also the first time in the nation that a state governing body and major utility has made such a large commitment to its citizens. We are excited to be part of the market and for the opportunity to work with Xcel Energy once again. Minnesota’s leadership validates the Community Solar business model and will undoubtedly drive more states across the nation to create similar programs.’”
Utility Dive covered the recent termination of Florida’s solar rebate program and rollback of energy efficiency goals. Herman K. Trabish discusses the ongoing feud between environmentalists and utilities, and the proposed workshops that will help determine the next course of action in the state.
“’That is an adult conversation Florida hasn’t had in a long time,” [VoteSolar Florida Regional Manager] Justin Hoysradt said. “It is super-critical the workshop be what the commission described — transparent and open to the public and to all stakeholders to participate and provide input. I am cautiously optimistic that if it is, it should result in good solar policy.”