November solar policy snapshots

Virginia could see an uptick in solar installations thanks to Governor Ralph Northam’s 2018 Virginia Energy Plan.

A guide to recent legislation and research throughout the country.

New Virginia energy plan aims to greatly expand solar
Richmond, Virginia

Governor Ralph Northam’s new 2018 Virginia Energy Plan sets forward-looking recommendations for the state’s energy system. The plan calls for developing new solar purchase options for corporate customers and adding 3,000 MW of solar and wind to Virginia’s grid by 2022. SEIA said in a statement that it will “work with policy leaders, manufacturers and installers across Virginia to meet these benchmarks.”

New York awards incentives for solar+storage installs
Albany, New York

The governor’s office has made $40 million available to support solar projects that include energy storage to help reach the state’s energy storage target of 1,500 MW by 2025. The incentive is for the commercial and industrial sectors and includes community solar gardens.

California makes it harder for customers to break up with utilities
Sacramento, California

The California PUC voted to raise the cost of monthly “exit fees” customers must pay investor-owned utilities (IOUs) if they choose to switch to a community choice program, or CCA. The exit fees are meant to help cover costs of energy contracts signed by the old utility to provide customers with power, but CCAs and utilities have never agreed on how to calculate the fees, according to the Desert Sun. The higher fees could deter customers from leaving IOUs and harm CCA enrollment.

DOE invests in solar and grid resiliency
Washington, D.C.

The U.S. Department of Energy announced up to $46 million in research funding for improving resiliency of solar power on the grid. The money will go to about 10 projects that will be charged with developing and testing control strategies, system monitoring, communications and other technologies to help improve grid resiliency.

Coal bailout quietly tabled
Washington, D.C.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s efforts to prop up failing coal and nuclear power plants in the name of national security have been shelved due to opposition from Trump’s National Security and National Economic Council advisers, according to Politico. The outlet reports Trump has also stopped talking about potentially rescuing coal in the past few months.

Nevada businesses form pro-solar coalition
Carson City, Nevada

Clean Energy Works for Nevada is a new coalition of businesses and advocates committed to a strong clean energy economy in the state. The group highlights that the falling cost of solar has led to more solar investments in Nevada and aims to ensure state policies help rather than hinder further solar growth.

Duke Energy works to expand commercial renewables
Columbia, South Carolina

Duke Energy wants to give commercial and industrial customers more options for renewable energy. The utility’s proposed Green Source Advantage program gives large nonresidential customers the chance to receive bill credits for energy produced on a solar site not on the customers’ premises. It also allows customers to retain the RECs produced by the offsite facility.

IREC grades states on their shared renewables programs
New York, New York

IREC’s annual scorecard graded 17 active shared renewables programs in 13 states plus Washington, D.C. This year’s review included a new scoring metric to capture the ways states are providing direct economic benefits to program subscribers. The two states to receive “A” grades were Minnesota and New York, which the organization found to have incorporated the majority of identified shared renewables best practices.

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