Xcel Energy sets stage for solar bidding war to meet Minnesota renewable energy law; Excel solar RFP is for 100 MWs

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   April 23, 2014  /   Posted in Uncategorized  /   No Comments

Xcel sets stage for solar bidding war

  • Article by: DAVID SHAFFER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 23, 2014 – 5:50 AM

Renewable energy companies will compete to build large, utility-size solar parks.


Ground-based solar arrays like this one are expected to become commonplace.

Photo: BRUCE BISPING • Star Tribune,

Xcel Energy Inc. on Tuesday launched a bidding war among renewable energy companies to propose large-scale solar power projects to help the utility comply with Minnesota’s mandate for increased electricity from the sun.

Xcel said it plans to add 100 megawatts of solar power, about seven times more than the state’s current capacity from about 730 smaller, mostly rooftop arrays. Large solar projects, often called utility scale, usually are built on the ground, each covering an area the size of several football fields.

Under a 2013 state energy law, Xcel and two other Minnesota investor-owned utilities must get 1.5 percent of their power from solar by 2020.

One developer said he wouldn’t be surprised if Xcel gets pitched 100 projects from companies around the country in response to its request for proposals (RFP). Developers must offer projects that have a combined capacity of 5 megawatts or more, the request said.

“There are not a lot of big RFPs coming out,” said Dean Leischow, managing director of Sunrise Energy Ventures, a Minnetonka-based solar developer that has built large-scale projects in other states. “When there is one, and it’s a utility that’s good to work with like Xcel in an area where there is plenty of land available, it’s pretty attractive.”

Sunrise Energy is one of at least three Minnesota-based developers known to be interested in the competition. Others include Ecos Energy of Minneapolis, which built the state’s largest solar array last year in Slayton, and Geronimo Energy of Edina, which separately has won regulatory approval to build 20 solar parks in Xcel’s Minnesota territory.

Xcel’s solar additions announced Tuesday would be on top of the 100 megawatts that Geronimo plans to build for the utility. Xcel estimated that 100 megawatts of solar would generate power equivalent to the annual needs of about 20,000 homes.

“We would be delighted to build another project in our home state,” said Brad Wilson, a project developer at Ecos Energy, whose separate 20-site Go Solar project proposed in Minnesota has been on hold after being turned down for an Xcel renewable energy grant in January.

Seeking tax credit

Xcel wants the new projects built by the end of 2016, when a 30 percent federal investment tax credit for solar projects expires. Xcel set a tight deadline for submitting and reviewing proposals, with the goal of presenting solar deals to state regulators for approval this fall.

Leischow of Sunrise Energy said his company developed three large solar arrays for Indianapolis Power & Light in its home state. He said the projects, which went on line last year, came in at 9.9 cents per kilowatt hour. That’s about 2 cents less than Xcel’s residential electricity retail price in Minnesota.

Dave Sparby, CEO of Xcel’s Minnesota regional operations, said Xcel is “committed to providing solar power to customers in the most reliable, cost-effective way possible.” In Xcel’s recent solar deals in its Colorado service region, the utility has said the solar pricing was lower than that of power generated by natural gas.

Xcel said that at the end of 2013, it had 87 megawatts of large-scale solar in Colorado, and plans to add 170 megawatts there over two years. It has 50 megawatts in its Texas-New Mexico region, and Leischow said Sunrise Energy built 50 solar projects for the utility in New Mexico.

The Minneapolis-based utility has 12 megawatts of solar capacity overall for its 1.2 million Minnesota customers. Xcel has said it expects utility-scale projects to supply about two-thirds of the 1.5 percent Minnesota solar mandate, estimated at 270 to 300 megawatts. That is equivalent to the output of a moderate-sized power plant.

Xcel said it wants to purchase the power through long-term deals, with an Xcel affiliate possibly a partner. Xcel also reserved the right to purchase less than 100 megawatts in this round, and told developers to scale their projects with that in mind.

David Shaffer • 612-673-7090 Twitter: @ShafferStrib

Ohio Advanced Energy Economy Commissions Poll on Energy to Battle SB 310; Poll Shows Ohio Voters Favor Renewables

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   April 18, 2014  /   Posted in Uncategorized  /   No Comments

Ohio voters favor green energy, efficiency and political candidates who do the same, poll finds

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on April 16, 2014 at 5:11 PM, updated April 16, 2014 at 8:44 PM

The Hatfield’s Ferry power plant in Pennsylvania has the capacity to generate more than 1,700 megawatts. The power plant’s three boilers are fueled with coal. FirstEnergy has closed the plantFirstEnergy Corp

COLUMBUS, Ohio  — Ohioans overwhelmingly favor replacing coal-fired power plants with wind farms and solar arrays, and requiring utilities to help customers use less electricity, a poll released Wednesday has found.

The random telephone survey of 600 Ohio voters found:

• That 72 percent favor renewable energy over traditional power plants, with 52 percent strongly in favor.

• That 86 percent of Ohio voters support mandated utility energy efficiency programs, with 49 percent strongly supporting the rules.

• That two-thirds of voters say they would more likely support legislative candidates this fall who promote renewable energy over those who think the state’s utilities should continue to emphasize traditional coal-fired and nuclear power plants.

The findings present a very clear picture of where Ohioans stand when it comes to energy policy and some of the debates going on in the state legislature,” said David Metz, a principal in the polling firm Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates. Known as FM3, the firm is based in California.

“And relative to other polling we have done in Ohio and around the country, these results are consistent in the strong support that Ohio voters offer for more use of clean energy and greater use of energy efficiency,” said Metz during a news conference.

Ohio Advanced Energy Economy, an advocacy group for efficiency and renewables, commissioned the poll. Ohio Advanced Energy has been battling against a proposal supported by the Republican leadership in the Ohio Senate — Senate Bill 310 — to amend state rules requiring power companies to help customers switch to more efficient equipment and lighting.

“The findings present a very clear picture of where Ohioans stand when it comes to energy policy,” David Metz, principal, FM3 polling company.


The law, which received bipartisan support by all but one lawmaker in 2008, requires utilities to help customers reduce power consumption through energy efficiency by 22 percent by 2025, compared with 2009 levels. And by the same year, the law requires that 12.5 percent of the power sold in the state to have been generated with renewable technologies. The percentages began at less than 1 percent in 2009 and are increasing annually.

But Republican lawmakers, in response to complaints from some large industrial companies and pressure from the utilities, led by FirstEnergy Corp. of Akron,want to freeze things at this year’s levels and then study the issue for three years.

FirstEnergy has been clear that it believes the efficiency rules have cut into normal market growth. Some large industries say it is costing too much in extra charges to fund the mandated programs. Proponents dismiss that complaint, saying the current law allows utilities to halt efficiency programs if they cost more than what they save customers.

Ford and other advocates for keeping the law argue that the bill pending in the Ohio Senate will effectively kill the efficiency and renewable industries that have sprung up since 2009.

“Ohio is home to some 400 advanced energy companies employing 25,000 Ohioans,” said Ted Ford, president and CEO of Ohio AEE. “Ohio’s clean energy law is working. It’s saving money for consumers, creating jobs, and making Ohio competitive. And now, we can demonstrate that the voting public strongly supports it, too.”

But the poll, Ohio Statewide Survey, also found that despite the efforts of energy efficiency advocates like Ford, almost half of the electorate haven’t heard anything at all about what lawmakers are considering. About 20 percent said they were aware of the debate.

Still, almost three-quarters of those polled said they support the current state law that requires utilities to switch to an increasing percentage of renewable energy.

And when asked what percentage of Ohio’s energy should come from wind and solar, on average, Ohioans said they would like to see a majority of the state’s electricity come from renewable sources, as much as 56 percent, said Metz.

“We saw a similar pattern when we asked about energy efficiency, he said. “Most Ohio voters see this (the current law) as something that could benefit them personally.”

“When we ask whether they would be interested in taking advantages of incentives to weatherize their homes, become more energy efficient and not waste energy, 90 percent of voters said that they personally would be interested.

FM3 is a nationally ranked firm that has done extensive polling on environmental, transportation, energy and educational issues. Its clients include electric utilities, school districts, state agencies and cities. The company has also polled for Democratic political candidates, including many well-known progressive and liberal U.S. senators and members of Congress.


Oklahoma House passes solar surcharge bill; DWEA Statement on Oklahoma Senate Bill 1456

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   April 17, 2014  /   Posted in Uncategorized  /   No Comments

Oklahoma House passes solar surcharge bill

Apr 15 – Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City)
Apr 15 – Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City)

Utility customers who want to install rooftop solar panels or small wind turbines could face extra charges on their bills after legislation passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives on Monday.Senate Bill 1456 passed 83-5 after no debate in the House. It passed the Senate last month and now heads to Gov. Mary Fallin for her approval.

The bill was supported by the state’s major electric utilities, but drew opposition from solar advocates, environmentalists and others. It sets up a process at the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to establish a separate customer class and monthly surcharge for distributed generation such as rooftop solar or small wind turbines.

Customers who already have those systems installed wouldn’t be affected by the bill. It also wouldn’t apply to electric cooperatives, which aren’t regulated by the Corporation Commission . The new tariffs for distributed generation would start by the end of 2015.

Representatives of Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. and Public Service Co. of Oklahoma said the surcharge is needed to recover some of the infrastructure costs to send excess electricity safely from distributed generation back to the grid. The representatives said utilities need the new surcharge to prevent customers who can’t afford the installation costs of distributed generation from subsidizing customers who have the systems installed.

“This neither unfairly advantages or disadvantages a class of customers,” said PSO spokesman Stan Whiteford .

“It levels the playing field where one customer class was subsidizing another.”

Solar advocates and others said the bill protects utility profits by opening up another revenue stream for them. The number of OG&E and PSO customers who have distributed generation in Oklahoma is small, but the declining costs of solar panels and a federal tax credit could make the systems more attractive.

SB 1456 was authored by Sen. A.J. Griffin , R- Guthrie , and sponsored by Rep. Mike Turner , R- Edmond .




Statement from DWEA Executive Director on Oklahoma Senate Bill 1456

Visit http://distriubtedwind.org for further information

April 3rd – Distributed Wind Energy Association Executive Director Jennifer Jenkins issued the following statement today as Senate Bill 1456, a bill that would add a new surcharge for distributed generation moved through a House subcommittee:

Submitted on 04/04/14, 07:55 AM


April 3, 2014
FOR MORE INFO: Lauren Glickman
Email: Lglickman@distributedwind.org
Tel: 504-258-7955

April 3rd – Distributed Wind Energy Association Executive Director Jennifer Jenkins issued the following statement today as Senate Bill 1456, a bill that would add a new surcharge for distributed generation moved through a House subcommittee:

“It’s disappointing to see Senate Bill 1456 moving forward in Oklahoma. This legislation does nothing but jeopardize renewable energy growth in the state. Distributed forms of energy generation like small and community wind and solar power help to keep the lights on and Oklahomans at work. The state legislature should be examining legislation that will support this growing industry, and utilities should be encouraging distributed generation instead of trying to penalize it.”
DWEA’s president, Mike Bergey, president & CEO of Bergey Windpower in Norman, OK added: “It is unfortunate that some utilities that enthusiastically support wind power for their own use are promoting a regressive policy that will make it harder for their customers to use wind power on their own. Oklahoma offers tax credits for large wind turbines which are built elsewhere, but wants to penalize small wind which we manufacture here in the state? That makes no sense to me. The truly ironic thing is that net metering, a standard policy in 42 states, saves utility administration costs and, because so little small wind and solar capacity is installed in Oklahoma, implementing SB 1456 through the Corporation Commission would cost ratepayers and taxpayers $5 for every $1 that it could theoretically save the utility.”
About the Distributed Wind Energy Association

The Distributed Wind Energy Association is a collaborative group comprised of manufacturers, distributors, project developers, dealers, installers, and advocates, whose primary mission is to promote and foster all aspects of the American distributed wind energy industry. Distributed wind is the use of wind turbines at homes, farm and ranches, businesses, public and industrial facilities, off-grid and other sites connected either physically or virtually on the customer side of the meter to offset all or a portion of local energy consumption or to support grid operations. DWEA seeks to represent members and associates from all sectors with relevant interests pertaining to the distributed wind industry. For more information on DWEA, please go to www.distributedwind.org. Follow us on Twitter @DWEA and like us on Facebook

Evansville public hearing on Vectren natural gas infrastructure plan Mon., April 14th @ 6:00 pm Old National Events Plaza

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   April 14, 2014  /   Posted in Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC), Uncategorized  /   No Comments


Vectren Energy Delivery has filed a formal request seeking Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) approval of long-term plans for natural gas transmission, distribution and storage system improvements, including incremental rate recovery of those costs as the projects proceed.

Vectren has filed its request under 2 state laws: A 2011 law dealing with cost recovery for federal mandates and a 2013 law addressing system improvements.

The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor’s (OUCC’s) testimony – filed on March 21, 2014 – is linked and summarized below.

Vectren customers who would like to provide comments for the case’s formal record may do so by:

  • Submitting written comments to the OUCC, or
  • Speaking or providing written comments at the IURC public field hearing scheduled for April 14, 2014 at the Old National Events Plaza (715 Locust St.) in Evansville. The formal hearing will start at 6:00 p.m. local time, with an OUCC informational session at 5:30 p.m.

For more information, please see the OUCC’s March 17, 2014 news release.

A brief summary of the laws

Indiana Code 8-1-8.4, approved by the Indiana General Assembly in 2011 (Senate Enrolled Act 251), allows natural gas and electric utilities to recover federally mandated costs.

  • Under the statute, a utility’s costs of complying with a number of federal mandates can be recovered through rates, including any requirement issued by the United States Department of Transportation (which has jurisdiction over interstate gas pipeline issues), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or Department of Energy (DOE), or by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
  • Before recovering the costs through rates, the utility must receive IURC approval for its proposed projects. It may then recover 80 percent of the costs through incremental rate increases every six months (with the remaining 20 percent deferred until the utility’s next base rate case). The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) participates in these cases on behalf of ratepayer interests.
  • Vectren currently recovers these costs through its Pipeline Safety Adjustment (PSA).

Indiana Code 8-1-39 was approved by the General Assembly in 2013 (Senate Enrolled Act 560). It allows electric and natural gas utilities to submit 7-year infrastructure improvement plans for IURC approval.

  • Once a 7-year plan receives IURC approval, the utility may request incremental rate increases every 6 months to recover the amounts actually spent on the projects. The rate adjustment is referred to as the Transmission, Distribution and Storage System Improvement Charge (TDSIC). The IURC has 90 days to rule on such a request.
  • TDSIC rate increases are limited to no more than 2 percent of the utility’s total retail revenues each year.
  • The TDSIC rate mechanism (or tracker) allows the utility to recover 80 percent of the costs as they are incurred. The remaining costs are deferred until the utility’s next base rate case, which must be filed before the end of the 7-year period.
  • Vectren is the second utility to request TDSIC ratemaking treatment and cost recovery. Northern Indiana Public Service Co. (NIPSCO) filed TDSIC requests for its gas and electric utilities earlier in 2013, and its cases are pending.

Vectren North request

The Vectren North gas service territory includes approximately 570,000 customers in 48 central, south-central and southeastern Indiana counties formerly served by Indiana Gas Co.

According to the utility’s testimony and exhibits:

  • The 7-year plan has a total of about $647.1 million in capital improvement projects. This total includes $369.7 million under the federal mandate law and $277.4 million in TDSIC rate recovery.
  • Projects throughout Vectren North’s natural gas service territory include main replacements, upgrades to transmission and distribution pipelines, and extensions into territories that currently do not have natural gas service.
  • If approved by the IURC, construction would start in 2014.
  • Vectren North plans to file its first gas rate increase request for these costs in September 2014. It proposes to combine recovery of federally mandated costs and TDSIC costs through a new rate recovery mechanism called the Compliance and System Improvement Adjustment (CSIA).
  • Vectren North projects that the TDSIC portion of the CSIA would raise an average residential customer’s monthly bill by $0.97 in the first year. Annual rate impacts on a percentage basis are as follows:



Federally mandated costs

Annual rate increases
by percentage (%)

TDSIC costs

Annual rate increases
by percentage (%)

Total Revenue

Residential Customers

Total Revenue

Residential Customers




































Source: Petitioner’s Exhibit No. SEA-3, IURC Cause No. 44430

Vectren South request

The Vectren South gas service territory includes about 110,000 customers in nine southwestern Indiana counties formerly served by Southern Indiana Gas & Electric Co. (SIGECO).

According to the utility’s testimony and exhibits:

  • The 7-year plan has a total of about $216.8 million in capital improvement projects. This total includes $173.7 million under the federal mandate law and $43.1 million in TDSIC rate recovery.
  • Projects throughout Vectren South’s natural gas service territory include main replacements and upgrades to transmission and distribution pipelines.
  • If approved by the IURC, construction would start in 2014.
  • Vectren South plans to file its first gas rate increase request for these costs in September 2014. It proposes to combine recovery of federally mandated costs and TDSIC costs through a new rate recovery mechanism called the Compliance and System Improvement Adjustment (CSIA).
  • Vectren South projects that the TDSIC portion of the CSIA would raise an average residential customer’s monthly bill by $1.34 in the first year. Annual rate impacts on a percentage basis are as follows:



Federally mandated costs

Annual rate increases
by percentage (%)

TDSIC costs

Annual rate increases
by percentage (%)

Total Revenue

Residential Customers

Total Revenue

Residential Customers




































Source: Petitioner’s Exhibit No. SEA-3, IURC Cause No. 44429

OUCC case in chief

The OUCC filed testimony on Vectren’s 7-year plans on March 21, 2014, following a four-month review. This review shows that the projects in Vectren’s 7-year plans are consistent with the statutes the General Assembly approved in 2011 and 2013. The OUCC’s testimony recommends that the IURC impose specific conditions if it approves the plans, including no double-recovery for infrastructure, use of the volumetric portion of gas bills (and not the fixed charge portion) for future cost recovery, the filing of an updated capital structure with each 6-month rate filing, and stricter reporting requirements.

Vectren cases in chief

Vectren’s November 26, 2013 filings initiating the case are available through these links. Each document is hosted on the IURC website.

Vectren North:

  • Petition - 21 pages
  • Chapman Testimony – 18 pages
  • Albertson Testimony - 42 pages
  • Swiz Testimony - 43 pages
  • Bailey Testimony - 31 pages
  • Hardwick Testimony - 35 pages
  • Francis Testimony: Part 1 - 92 pages
  • Francis Testimony: Part 2 - 35 pages
  • Francis Testimony: Part 3 - 35 pages
  • Francis Testimony: Part 4 - 15 pages
  • Francis Testimony: Part 5 - 139 pages
  • Francis Testimony: Part 6 - 205 pages

Vectren South:

  • Petition - 21 pages
  • Chapman Testimony – 17 pages
  • Albertson Testimony – 42 pages
  • Swiz Testimony – 43 pages
  • Bailey Testimony – 23 pages
  • Hardwick Testimony – 35 pages
  • Francis Testimony: Part 1 - 91 pages
  • Francis Testimony: Part 2 - 35 pages
  • Francis Testimony: Part 3 - 35 pages
  • Francis Testimony: Part 4 - 15 pages
  • Francis Testimony: Part 5 - 139 pages
  • Francis Testimony: Part 6 - 183 pages

Additional filings, case timeline and consumer input

All filings in this case are available by visiting the IURC’s Electronic Document System and entering docket number 44429.

A public field hearing will be held on April 14, 2014 in Evansville. The hearing will start at 6:00 p.m., local time, at the Old National Events Plaza (715 Locust St).

Written consumer comments are invited and can be sent to the OUCC by mail, fax or email, or through the agency’s website. Comments received by the close of business on April 21, 2014 will be filed with the IURC for inclusion in the case’s evidentiary record.

The OUCC and other parties will have until April 23, 2014 to file supplemental testimony relating to field hearing comments.

A technical evidentiary hearing will begin May 7, 2014 in Indianapolis. Evidentiary hearings are open to the public but participation is typically limited to attorney and Commission questioning of technical witnesses who have file written testimony on behalf of the case’s formal parties.

Parties will file written closing arguments in the weeks following the evidentiary hearing.

Electric rates and charges are not at issue in these cases. This page will be updated based on future developments.



Shining Cities Report Shows Indianapolis #7 on Top 20 Solar Cities; #5 Solar PV/capita; Due to IPL VFIT Rate REP

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   April 13, 2014  /   Posted in Indianapolis Power and Light (IPL), IPL Rate REP, Net Metering, solar  /   No Comments


Shining Cities

Released by: Environment California Research & Policy Center
Release date: Thursday, April 10, 2014

Editor’s Note: The ranking achieved by the City of Indianapolis in this report is due to the Indianapolis Power and Light (IPL) voluntary feed-in tariff (VFIT) called Rate REP. IndianaDG has been in the forefront promoting VFIT’s in Indiana including IPL’s Rate REP.  

Solar power is on the rise across the country. The United States has more than 200 times as much solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity installed today as it did in 2002. With solar module prices coming down, increasing national awareness of solar energy, and a growing legion of solar businesses large and small, solar power is emerging as a mainstream energy solution with widespread benefits for our health, our economy and the environment.

Figure ES-1. Annual and Cumulative Installed Photovoltaic (PV) Capacity through 2013, United States

America’s major cities are helping to lead this clean energy revolution. Forward-thinking local governments and large cities in leading states are benefiting from smart policies that encourage investment in solar PV installations and the growth of local jobs.

This report provides a first-of-its-kind comparative look at the growth of solar power in major American cities. Just 20 cities, representing just 0.1 percent of the land area of the United States, account for 7 percent of solar PV capacity in the United States. These top 20 cities contain more solar power today than was installed in the entire U.S. just six years ago.

Solar energy brings important benefits to cities.

  • Solar energy avoids pollution—Pollution-free energy from the sun displaces fossil fuel-powered energy sources, reducing a major source of pollution that contributes to urban smog and global warming. Outdoor air pollutants endanger the health of city residents, and many urban centers are vulnerable to the global warming-induced threats of sea-level rise, increasingly frequent and severe extreme weather events, and the public health impacts of heat waves. Rooftop solar energy also increases city resilience to extreme weather events, which are only due to get worse with increased global warming. For example, solar energy can power cities when drought strikes without diverting precious water resources and help prevent blackouts by reducing strain on the grid. As the electric system evolves, solar panels will be able to provide backup power during power outages caused by storms or other disasters.
  • Solar energy protects consumers—Cities often depend on electricity transmitted from power plants hundreds of miles away to meet local demand. Using local solar energy reduces the need for electricity transmission and the need for costly and inefficient “peaking” power plants. Solar energy also typically supplies electricity on hot, sunny days when grids are under the most strain and electricity is most expensive. In addition, since there are no fuel costs associated with solar energy, it can reduce the vulnerability of city economies to price increases for fossil fuels.
  • Solar energy helps the economy—Solar power creates local jobs in solar installations and manufacturing. Solar industry employment grew 10 times faster than the national average growth in employment in 2013 and employed 142,000 Americans as of November 2013.

The top 20 cities have a total installed solar PV capacity of over 890 MW and are located in almost every region of the U.S.

Figure ES-2. Map of 57 Principal Cities Ranked by Cumulative Installed Solar PV Capacity, End of 2013

On a per-capita basis, Honolulu is the leading solar city, followed by San Jose, and Wilmington, Delaware. 

Figure ES-3. Map of 57 Principal Cities Ranked by Installed Solar PV Capacity per Person, End of 2013

America’s leading solar cities are increasing their use of solar energy in a variety of ways. Some cities are focusing on distributed solar PV on homes and small businesses, others are building utility-scale solar power plants, while still others are developing solar energy at the neighborhood scale or through community projects. What makes these top cities solar leaders?

  • Commitment from local governments. Cities can lead and catalyze local markets by installing solar power on city buildings and setting ambitious but achievable targets for solar energy. Leading solar cities, including Denver and Portland, are driving solar growth starting with their public buildings.
  • Support from city policies and programs. Cities can create policies that promote solar power in their communities. Cities can encourage local lending for solar projects, provide predictable and accessible tax incentives that make solar energy more affordable and welcoming to businesses, and adopt solar-friendly permitting policies and building codes. New York City, for example, has a property tax credit for residents who install solar panels. Cities can also run “Solarize” programs that use collective purchasing and educational campaigns to help neighbors “go solar” together, as Portland, Oregon did, or create programs to facilitate solar project financing like Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing.
  • Partnership with local utilities. Municipal utilities in several cities have driven the growth of solar power by setting renewable energy goals and offering attractive financial incentives for solar projects. Austin Energy, the municipal utility serving Austin, has set a goal of installing 200 MW of solar power by 2020 and offers an array of solar financing options and monetary incentives to its customers. Seattle City Light allows its customers to invest in community solar projects that are not located on their properties but whose output is still credited on their utility bill. Other cities have effectively partnered with investor-owned utilities to incentivize solar power. New York City partnered with Con Edison, its local investor-owned utility, to connect solar power to the city grid for the first time and create designated “Solar Empowerment Zones” where solar power could deliver the most benefits.
  • Strong state-level policies. New Jersey, Delaware and Massachusetts have among the strongest standards in the country, boosting the solar capacity of cities such as Newark, New Jersey, Wilmington, Delaware and Boston, Massachusetts. Hawaii, California, Arizona and New York also benefit from strong state policies that make them home to some of the most prominent solar cities. Net metering policies that allow solar producers to receive the full benefits of their solar power production are important for a robust solar market; states should also allow for virtual net metering that facilitates shared solar projects.
  • Support from federal programs. Federal renewable energy tax credits and funding from federal programs like the Solar America Cities program, the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Sunshot Initiative provide support for local solar power growth and valuable technical assistance to local governments.

America’s leading cities have made significant progress but have just begun to tap solar energy’s immense potential. Strong public policies at every level of government can help America continue to harness clean solar energy and overcome legislative and regulatory barriers to distributed generation. To achieve America’s full solar potential:

  • Local governments should follow the lead of America’s top solar cities by adopting programs that promote the rapid expansion of solar power and by demanding that state and federal officials and investor-owned utilities facilitate that expansion.
  • State governments should set ambitious goals for solar energy and adopt policies to meet them. State governments should also use their role as the primary regulators of electric utilities to encourage utility investments in solar energy and implement rate structures that maximize the benefits of solar energy to consumers. States can streamline permitting, inspections and net metering rules to reduce the non-equipment costs of getting solar power on rooftops. States should require that upcoming investments in the electric grid are designed to ensure that clean, distributed energy such as solar power plays a larger role.
  • The federal government should continue to provide long-term support for solar power through tax credits and other incentives. The federal government should continue to support research, development and deployment efforts designed to reduce the cost of solar energy and related storage and smart grid technologies; this will enable more solar energy to be reliably incorporated into the electric grid. The federal government should continue to offer programs like the Solar America Cities program, the Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grant program and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Sunshot Initiative, which provide support and technical assistance while fostering innovations that drive solar development at the state and local levels.
  • All levels of government should lead by example by installing solar energy technologies on government buildings.




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