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Solar Industry News and Updates
REC Solar is constantly monitoring the industry and will share news and updates from around the solar industry below. Because some of these programs are time sensitive, interested parties should contact us today via the Get Started button at right for a risk-free consultation.
In response to ongoing debate regarding the future of the state’s renewable energy tax credit, early this year Senator Mike Gabbard and Representative Chris Lee spearheaded an effort – with broad support from the solar industry – to comprehensively overhaul the current tax credit structure and give it long-term stability.
After months of consideration, Hawaii’s House and Senate passed legislation which reduced the current 35% renewable energy tax credit in a transparent, predictable manner over time, and created a new production tax credit for utility-scale solar. However, this legislation failed to be voted out of a legislative conference committee in late April, due to heated debate regarding the true cost of the bill vis-à-vis the current tax credit.
Thus, the status quo will remain in effect in Hawaii through 2013, at least. Commercial solar systems remain eligible for a 35% tax credit (or a 24.5% refundable tax credit) capped at $500,000 per megawatt installed. The legislature will likely again consider changes to Hawaii’s renewable tax credit next year.Read More
Momentum is building behind multiple parallel efforts at the legislature and the California Public Utilities Commission to establish one or more ‘shared renewable’ programs. Under these proposed programs, utility customers could opt to purchase subscriptions in offsite renewable energy systems, and then receive bill credits for electricity produced. Such programs would expand California’s solar market to renters and others who cannot utilize traditional customer-sited solar.
There are now two industry-supported bills (Senate Bill 43 and Assembly Bill 1014) which would create a comprehensive shared renewables program for investor-owned utility customers, a separate SCE-sponsored proposal (Assembly Bill 1295) and two separate proposals at the Commission – one submitted by SDG&E and the other by PG&E, the Sierra Club, and ratepayer advocates – to create utility-specific programs.
Each of these proposals differs in certain ways, but all seek to expand access to renewable energy. Indeed, with California’s investor-owned utilities all supporting some form of community solar, in one fashion or another (or perhaps several) shared renewables are likely coming to the Golden State. The legislative proposals are presently working their way through initial policy committee hearings, and may be considered up until the final days of California’s legislative session in September.Read More
In late April the New York Senate unanimously passed legislation to extend Governor Cuomo’s ‘NY-Sun’ initiative through 2023 and solidify the state’s long-term commitment to solar energy. The bill is now being considered in the Assembly.
The NY-Sun initiative, launched by Cuomo last year, was already a robust effort to make New York one of the top states for residential, commercial, and utility-scale solar. The initiative significantly expanded 2012-2015 funding for commercial solar programs offered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), and sought to double in 2012 the customer-sited solar capacity added in 2011, and to quadruple that amount in 2013.
Additionally, NYSERDA recently submitted an application to the New York Public Service Commission seeking important changes to current standard-offer incentive programs for residential and small commercial systems. NYSERDA is seeking the following:
• To raise the residential system maximum size cap from the current 7kW to 25kW.
• To create a new standard-offer incentive for commercial solar systems sized between the current maximum of 50kW up to a new maximum system size of 200kW.
• To create a new short-term incentive opportunity for capacity additions for previously-completed small commercial solar systems.
These proposals will expand opportunity for residential and small commercial solar in New York. The Commission will likely consider in coming weeks.Read More
The Salt River Project, which serves much of the greater Phoenix area and central Arizona, has opened commercial and residential solar programs for Fiscal Year 2014, which begins May 1, 2013.
Key points include:
• Residential solar incentives of $.10 per watt, with a maximum incentive per system of $500.00 (5 kilowatt system); 12.9 megawatts of program capacity.
• Commercial solar incentives of $.10 per watt with a new maximum system size of 300 kilowatts (increased from 100 kilowatts); 4 megawatts of program capacity. No incentive for larger commercial systems.
• New schools, government, and non-profit solar program with a performance-based incentive of $0.04 per kilowatt-hour produced and a maximum system size of one megawatt; 5 megawatts of program capacity.Read More
Colorado’s General Assembly has now passed a measure — likely to become law — which will accelerate deployment of solar and other renewables in areas of the state serviced by electrical cooperatives.
This legislation — Senate Bill 13-252 — increases the Renewable Energy Standard to 20% (up from 10%) by 2020 for large electrical cooperative,s and includes a specific carve-out for small-scale renewable generation. Colorado’s largest utility, Xcel Energy, is today required to meet a 30% renewable target by 2020.
This bill will open new portions of the state to solar deployment, and will likely be enacted into law soon.Read More
Georgia Power continues to make progress with their Georgia Power Advanced Solar Initiative (GPASI), which seeks to acquire 210 megawatts of new solar capacity through long-term contracts in 2013 and 2014.
Earlier this year, the utility offered commercial customers the opportunity to produce their own energy via solar electric systems with the Small- (less than 100kW) and Medium-scale (100-1,000kW) commercial programs. These programs will likely reopen for applications in early 2014. Last week, Georgia Power released the likely-final solicitation for Large utility-scale solar projects ranging from one to 20 megawatts in size. This competitive solicitation (applicants will bid a price for delivered electricity, not to exceed $0.12 per kilowatt-hour) will open for applications on May 10, 2013, and close in early June. Georgia Power expects to procure up to 60 megawatts with this year’s utility-scale solar program, and all projects contracted in 2013 must be commercially operable by December 31, 2014. For more information on this Georgia opportunity, contact REC Solar today.Read More
Virtual net metering, available for customers of California’s investor-owned utilities since mid-2012, allows electric load at multiple meters to be offset by solar generation at a single meter elsewhere, so long as all meters are behind the same utility service delivery point. This program expands solar opportunity for retail customers and multi-family housing facilities, which have traditionally been limited to generating electricity and offsetting load at a single electric meter.
According to California Public Utilities Commission staff, program interest has been lighter-than-expected. Reasons likely include complications surrounding the case-by-case determination of the utility service delivery point location, and a lack of program information made available by the utilities and others. Still, virtual net metering will likely make solar much more economically attractive for certain California commercial multi-family housing facilities with multiple meters, and early adopters may reap significant benefits. For more information regarding this program or using solar to offset electric load at multiple meters, contact REC Solar today.Read More
New Jersey’s Office of Clean Energy this week released a courtesy copy of the state’s new aggregated net metering rules, to be published in final form soon. This new program – a product of New Jersey’s RPS-acceleration legislation enacted in 2012 – is intended to allow state and local government entities to offset onsite and offsite electrical load with a single solar electric system. In theory, at least, this permits a school district or other agency to install a single large solar system which then reduces electric bills at multiple separate district schools or other facilities.
The reality is slightly more complicated. Participating facilities must be located within the customer’s jurisdiction, or for state agencies must be located within five miles, and all must be served by the same electric distribution company. Additionally, only the ‘host’ electric meter will receive a full-retail electric bill credit. All other facilities will receive bill credits at a lower wholesale electric rate. As such, opportunity presented by this program is limited, though it may still be a boon for public entities with multiple metered accounts on a single ‘host’ site.
While New Jersey remains oversupplied with solar relative to current statutory requirements the state is expected to remain one of the top solar markets in the U.S., and recently announced a milestone of 1,000 megawatts installed. New commercial and residential solar systems are being installed at a respectable pace, and SREC prices have seen a mild rebound in recent months, with spot prices currently north of $100.00/MWh.Read More
Colorado’s General Assembly is actively considering a measure which would dramatically accelerate deployment of solar and other renewables in areas serviced by electrical cooperatives and municipal utilities. This legislation – Senate Bill 13-252 – increases the Renewable Electricity Standard to 25% (from 10%) by 2020 for large electrical cooperatives and requires distributed renewable generation equal to 1% of total retail electric sales. Colorado’s largest utility – Xcel Energy – is today required to meet a 30% renewable target by 2020. This bill would open significant swaths of the state to solar deployment, and is supported by key policymakers in both the House and Senate.
Colorado has traditionally been a solar powerhouse, with over 270 megawatts today in operation. Without policy fixes however the state may be slipping from its perch, with Colorado’s solar installation ranking falling from 5th in the nation in 2011 to 12th in 2012. Xcel Energy continues to offer attractive incentives however for commercial and residential solar for businesses and homeowners in the utility’s service territory. REC Solar is a leading Colorado solar installer, with more than 1,000 systems installed in the state. Please contact us for more information on how to start saving on your electric bills today.Read More
The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Greentech Media have released their annual “U.S. Solar Market Insight: Year-in-Review,” showing record levels of solar demand. U.S. businesses, homeowners, and utilities installed 3,313 megawatts of solar in 2012, representing 76% annual growth over the prior year. Cumulatively, more than 300,000 solar electric systems (representing more than 7.2 gigawatts) are today online in the U.S. Other key facts:
• 2012-installed solar installations were valued at $11.5 billion, compared to $8.6 billion in 2011 and $6 billion in 2010.
• While California remains the top solar market, key growth states in 2012 were Hawaii, Massachusetts, Maryland, and North Carolina.
• Last year Massachusetts quadrupled the solar capacity it installed in 2011, with much of the growth coming from a strong commercial solar sector, which broke the 100 megawatt mark in installed capacity for the year.
• Much of solar’s growth is due to cost reduction. From 2001 to 2012, the average retail price of electricity in the U.S. increased 35%, while the average installed price of a solar system dropped nearly 70%.
2013 will be another growth year for solar. Analysts project at least 4.3 gigawatts of new installed solar for the year. Top growth prospects for 2013 include Hawaii, New York, North Carolina, and Massachusetts.Read More