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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.
Nearly four years after former Governor Schwarzenegger signed Senate Bill 32 – creating a new small-scale ‘feed-in-tariff’ program – into law, PG&E, SCE, and SDG&E opened new Renewable Market Adjusting Tariff (ReMAT) programs for applications on October 1, 2013. While originally intended in 2009 as a straightforward mechanism for agriculturalists, homeowners, and commercial property owners to utilize standard pricing and contract terms to sell renewable electricity into the grid, implementation has been delayed, complicated, and made significantly less attractive for landowners and system developers. The program now uses periodically-adjusting pricing to procure renewable electricity from systems no larger than three megawatts, for a term of 10-20 years. Unlike most U.S. solar programs, which focus on homeowners and businesses offsetting their own electricity usage, ‘feed-in-tariff’ programs simply pay system owners a predetermined price (the ‘tariff’) for all electricity delivered to the grid. However, with the ReMAT program falling short of its potential, it appears that solar electric systems which offset electric use (as opposed to delivering it to the grid) will continue to be the most attractive opportunity for California businesses and homeowners.Read More
California’s Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 43 into law last week, creating a new "shared renewables" program whereby the state’s investor-owned utilities – PG&E, SCE, and SDG&E – will make up to 600MW of new renewable generation available to customers who are unable to install solar or other renewables. This new utility-scale renewable generation will be procured via existing renewable programs – including the Renewable Auction Mechanism (RAM) and the Renewable Request for Offers (RFO) – with solicitations for new projects coming as soon as late 2014. As with similar "green power purchase" programs in other states, subscribers (including businesses and homeowners) are unlikely to actually save money on electric bills. While the specifics of implementation have yet to be developed by the California Public Utilities Commission, the language of the bill strongly suggests that most subscribers will pay a premium for purchasing more renewable electricity than otherwise provided by their utility. Therefore, this new "shared renewables" program is unlikely to be a serious competitor to California’s quickly-growing residential and commercial solar industries, which have installed more than 160,000 solar electric systems for customers across the state.Read More
This week the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) will open the Solar Pioneer Program to new residential solar applications, with $5 million in funding. Given the sharply-reduced cost of solar electric systems, zero- or low-money down financing options and the strong continued demand for solar electric systems, LIPA has adjusted the Solar Pioneer program's incentive structure several times over the past year, including as recently as August 1, to handle the increase in customer demand. However LIPA temporarily suspended the program on Labor Day weekend due to budget constraints.
Since 2000 LIPA has provided financial incentives for installation of over 6,600 solar electric systems through its customer-sited residential and commercial solar system programs. These programs not only assist businesses and homeowners save money on electric bills and hedge against future price risk, but also support Governor Andrew Cuomo’s ‘NY Sun’ initiative to quadruple the amount of customer-sited solar deployed in New York between 2011 and 2013.
New York is a rapidly-growing commercial and residential solar market. With nearly 300 megawatts installed or in development, more solar electric systems are being developed since ‘NY Sun’ was launched in 2012 than in the entire prior decade combined.Read More
The California legislature last week sent Governor Brown a bill striking a balance between utility and renewable interests over electric rate design and net metering – the policy which allows solar customers to ‘roll back the meter’ and reduce electric bills to zero. Net metering has been a source of significant debate in recent years, as utilities charge that net metering policies create a ‘cost-shift’ to other customers. California’s Assembly Bill 327 creates the potential of a new fixed charge for residential customers and loosens certain ratemaking policies (key utility priorities) but also guarantees that net metering will remain in place in current form through July 1, 2017 or when each utility hits an established capacity cap.
The bill also creates a process for the California Public Utilities Commission to develop a new, uncapped net metering program to take effect when the current one expires.
This legislation, expected to be signed by Governor Brown, will no doubt have national implications, as California remains not only the nation’s largest and most mature solar market but also a leader in renewable energy policy creation.Read More
The California Public Utilities Commission is expected this week to approve a draft resolution clearing the way for implementation of Senate Bill 594, which will allow a single solar system to offset electrical demand at multiple meters – especially important for farmers, ranchers, and other agriculturalists. This legislation was signed into law in 2012, but gave the Commission until September 30, 2013 to issue their implementing resolution. It is expected that California’s large utilities – PG&E, SCE, and SDG&E – will have two weeks after approval to issue their own implementing guidelines. Implementation will make solar much more cost-effective for businesses with significant electrical usage across multiple electric meters, even on adjacent properties.
Rising electricity rates and falling solar costs have prompted California businesses to install solar at a blistering pace, with more than 100 megawatts of commercial solar installed thus far in 2013. If your business is paying too much for electricity, let REC Solar answer some of your questions about how solar can help manage costs today, hedge against future price risk, and provide a no-risk financial return. With more than 11,000 systems installed, we can offer the experience and expertise your business needs to make the right decision regarding commercial solar.Read More
Last week’s release by GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) of U.S. Solar Market Insight: 2nd Quarter 2013 showed continued acceleration of solar deployment, with businesses, homeowners, and utilities installing 832 megawatts in Q2 2013, representing 15% growth over Q1. It was solar’s second best quarter ever.
The largest share of installations came from utilities, with thirty-eight completed projects totaling 452 megawatts. While commercial and residential markets were relatively flat year-over-year, the report forecasts a resumption of growth in the second half of 2013. Such seasonality is typical, as systems are installed in the latter half of the year to take advantage of the federal 30% investment tax credit. In total, 4.4 gigawatts of solar are expected to come online this year, up from 3.3 gigawatts in 2012. Top solar states for new installations included California, Arizona, New Jersey, and North Carolina.Read More
Pacific Power and Portland General Electric are preparing for the October 1st capacity release for Oregon’s feed-in-tariff program, which incentivizes commercial solar electric systems. Program applications are accepted biannually – on April 1 and Oct. 1 – with payment rates up to four times customers’ electric rates. This financial incentive is paid monthly to solar system owners for up to fifteen years. This October capacity allocation is theoretically the last of eight that began in July 2010, though the Oregon legislature recently reauthorized the program into 2014.
This program has proven an attractive opportunity for many small- and medium-sized businesses, and very heavy demand is expected for this October 1st application period. Prior rounds have been fully subscribed within minutes of opening. REC Solar’s experienced Oregon team can help your business prepare and submit an application for this or other programs which can significantly reduce electricity costs. If interested in considering solar for your business, please contact us via the Get Started button at right.Read More
The Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) has announced the forthcoming availability of a “Clean Solar Initiative Feed-in-Tariff II” to purchase solar energy produced by up to 50MW of systems installed on commercial properties in the utility’s service territory. Unlike most solar programs in the U.S., which focus on homeowners and businesses offsetting their own electricity usage with solar, this "feed-in-tariff" program simply pays solar owners a fixed price (the “tariff”) of $.22 per kilowatt-hour for all electricity delivered to the grid.
While the program’s launch date is yet unknown, this will be an attractive opportunity for commercial property owners on Long Island, who may simply choose to lease their property to a third-party solar owner. Interested parties should act soon to take advantage of this program. For details or more information, please contact REC Solar today by clicking on the "Get Started" button at right.Read More
New Jersey’s Board of Public Utilities has approved — after months of consideration — new Public Service Electric & Gas (PSE&G) programs to finance residential and commercial solar for PSE&G customers and facilitate construction of large-scale utility-owned solar.
Under the Solar Loan III program, PSE&G will provide up to $193 million in loans to customers for residential, commercial, and large-scale solar projects. Loans may be repaid over 10 years with SREC revenues or via standard means. PSE&G plans to offer 9.75MW of residential capacity, 82.75MW of commercial capacity, and 5MW of capacity for grid supply projects on landfills and brownfields. The first solicitation is expected in September 2013, and this may be an attractive opportunity for commercial property owners in PSE&G territory. In a solar market dominated by spot transactions and short-term contracts, the long-term price certainty provided by this new program will likely assist in making many more solar projects economically attractive. For details or more information, please contact REC Solar today.Read More
Governor Kitzhaber has signed legislation – known as HB2983A – which extends Oregon’s feed-in-tariff program (AKA the "volumetric incentive rate"), for commercial solar electric systems for one year, adding additional program capacity. Enactment of this legislation ensures this program – which takes project applications twice annually – will remain available into 2014.
This feed-in-tariff program has proven an attractive opportunity for many small- and medium-sized businesses in Oregon, and very heavy demand is expected for this April 1st capacity release. Prior rounds have been fully subscribed within minutes of opening. REC Solar’s Oregon team can help your business prepare and submit an application for this or other programs which can significantly reduce your electricity costs. If interested, please contact us via the Get Started button at right.Read More