The sun will continue to shine on the solar industry in California. Utility regulators there voted this week to retain retail rate net metering for solar customers. While there will be some changes to the state’s net metering policies, the vote is seen by most as a victory for California’s rooftop solar customers and businesses.
The California Public Utilities Commission received dozens of proposals from the state’s publicly-traded utility companies Monday night offering a glimpse into the future of rooftop solar in the state.
State legislation passed in late 2013 tasked the commission with revamping utility regulations regarding residential utility bills and solar tariffs. The legislation dictates that the PUC prioritize continued rooftop solar industry growth while aligning solar costs and benefits.
A new California regulation that allows companies to package energy from small producers and sell it on the wholesale market is good news for the long-term viability of rooftop solar.
As utilities push back against paying the full retail rate for the power solar customers feed onto the grid, some expect the popularity of rooftop solar to wane. News outlets this week have noted that the meteoric rise of rooftop solar could slow when the 30 percent national investment tax credit declines in 2016 and as utilities reduce net metering payments.
New York’s new community net metering rules mean solar energy, along with the savings and environmental advantages that come with it, just became more accessible too low-income and all residents in the state.
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced last week that the state’s Public Service Commission approved new rules allowing for community net metering. The commission is calling the package of policies its Shared Renewable Program. Both the program name and the term community net metering are fairly descriptive of how the program will work.
Nevada solar advocates are outraged at the state’s largest utility’s seemingly deceptive tactic to trick the legislature into enacting a net metering cap that could begin limiting rooftop solar installations before September.
Nevada lawmakers were tasked with deciding whether or not to increase the net metering cap this spring and ultimately made a small boost from 225 megawatts to 235 megawatts. But they might have made the decision with bad information from the state’s biggest utility provider.
If you ask people who don’t follow the politics or news about the solar industry which US states they think have the most solar panels, they probably wouldn’t guess Massachusetts or New Jersey. Sure, they would probably get California and maybe Arizona. But they’d also probably expect the Sunshine State to be at the top of the list.
It’s not exactly Earth-shattering news that states with more progressive solar policies have more solar energy capacity than states that don’t. But there are a few correlations between solar policy and economic health that might be worth noting.
Environment America released a report on solar policy and solar capacity this week titled Lighting the Way: The top 10 states that helped drive America’s solar energy boom in 2013.
Net metering is the tool that makes rooftop solar viable for so many Americans. Most states have net metering laws requiring utility companies to buy excess power generated from rooftop solar panels from the homeowners who installed them. That means homeowners can produce more power than they need during the day and sell it back to the utility to offset their electric bills for the power they use at night when the sun isn’t shining.
What states have net metering?