50 States of Solar: Q1 2017 Quarterly Report

50 States of Solar: Q1 2017 Quarterly Report

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Description: The 50 States of Solar allows those involved in the solar and electric utility industry to easily stay on top of legislative and regulatory changes. The report provides a comprehensive quarterly review of actions, an undertaking that would take any one business or organization weeks of time and thousands of dollars in staff time. At a cost of $500 per issue (or $1,600 annually), the 50 States of Solar offers an invaluable time and financial savings.

With direct links to original sources for all actions, customers may stay on top of legislative and regulatory developments between quarterly reports.

Author: Autumn Proudlove, Brian Lips, David Sarkisian, Achyut Shrestha  | Visits: 411 | Page Views: 576
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Q1 2017 Quarterly Report
Executive Summary


April 2017

Autumn Proudlove
Brian Lips
David Sarkisian
Achyut Shrestha
The NC Clean Energy Technology Center is a UNC System-chartered Public Service Center
administered by the College of Engineering at North Carolina State University. Its mission is to
advance a sustainable energy economy by educating, demonstrating and providing support for
clean energy technologies, practices, and policies. The Center provides service to the
businesses and citizens of North Carolina and beyond relating to the development and adoption
of clean energy technologies. Through its programs and activities, the Center envisions and
seeks to promote the development and use of clean energy in ways that stimulate a sustainable
economy while reducing dependence on foreign sources of energy and mitigating the
environmental impacts of fossil fuel use.

Autumn Proudlove (afproudl@ncsu.edu)

We would like to acknowledge the Solar Energy Industries Association for its support of the NC
Clean Energy Technology Center.

North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center, The 50 States of Solar: Q1 2017 Quarterly
Report, April 2017.

Cover design is by Capital City Creative.

The 50 States of Solar: Q1 2017 Executive Summary | 1

Photo by Wayne National Forest. “Wayne National Forest Solar Panel Construction.” July 15,
2009. CC-By 2.0. Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/waynenf/3725051641
Photo by North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center. “Training Class – PV Installation.”
April 25, 2014.

While the authors strive to provide the best information possible, neither the NC Clean Energy
Technology Center nor NC State University make any representations or warranties, either
express or implied, concerning the accuracy, completeness, reliability or suitability of the
information. The NC Clean Energy Technology Center and NC State University disclaim all
liability of any kind arising out of use or misuse of the information contained or referenced within
this report. Readers are invited to contact the authors with proposed corrections or additions.

The 50 States of Solar is a quarterly publication. Previous executive summaries and older full
editions of The 50 States of Solar are available here:

Q4 2016 and 2016 Policy Review – Executive Summary
Q3 2016 Executive Summary
Q2 2016 Executive Summary
Q1 2016
Q4 2015 and 2015 Policy Review
Q3 2015
Q2 2015
Q1 2015
Q4 2014

The 50 States of Solar: Q1 2017 Executive Summary | 2

The purpose of this report is to provide state lawmakers and regulators, electric utilities, the
solar industry, and other energy stakeholders with timely, accurate, and unbiased updates on
how states are choosing to study, adopt, implement, amend, or discontinue policies associated
with distributed solar photovoltaics (PV). This report catalogues proposed and enacted
legislative, regulatory, and rate design changes affecting the value proposition of distributed
solar PV during the most recent quarter, with an emphasis on the residential sector.
The 50 States of Solar provides regular quarterly updates of solar policy developments, keeping
stakeholders informed and up to date on a timely basis.

The authors identified relevant policy changes through state utility commission docket searches,
legislative bill searches, popular press, and direct communication with stakeholders and
regulators in the industry.

Questions Addressed
This report addresses several questions about the changing U.S. solar policy landscape:

How are (1) state regulatory bodies and legislatures and (2) electric utilities addressing
fast growing markets for distributed solar PV?

What changes to traditional rate design features and net metering policies are being
proposed, approved, and implemented?

Where are distributed solar markets potentially affected by policy or regulatory decisions
on community solar, third-party solar ownership, and utility-led residential rooftop solar

Actions Included
This report focuses on cataloguing and describing important proposed and adopted policy
changes affecting solar customer-generators of investor-owned utilities (IOUs) and large
publicly-owned or nonprofit utilities (i.e., those serving at least 100,000 customers). Specifically,
actions tracked in this issue include:

The 50 States of Solar: Q1 2017 Executive Summary | 3

Significant changes to state or utility net metering laws and rules, including aggregate
caps, system size limits, aggregate net metering rules, and compensation rates for net
excess generation

Changes to statewide community solar laws and rules, and individual utility-sponsored
community solar programs arising from statewide legislation

Legislative or regulatory-led efforts to study the value of solar, net metering, or
distributed solar generation policy, e.g., through a regulatory docket or a cost-benefit

Utility-initiated rate requests for charges applicable only to residential customers
with solar PV or other types of distributed generation, such as added monthly fixed
charges, demand charges, stand-by charges, or interconnection fees

Utility-initiated rate requests that propose a 10% or larger increase in either fixed
charges or minimum bills for all residential customers

Changes to the legality of third-party solar ownership, including solar leasing and
solar third-party solar power purchase agreements (PPAs), and proposed utility-led
rooftop solar programs

In general, this report considers an “action” to be a relevant (1) legislative bill that has been
passed by at least one chamber or (2) a regulatory docket, utility rate case, or rulemaking
proceeding. Introduced legislation related to third-party sales is included irrespective of whether
it has passed at least one chamber, as only a small number of bills related to this policy have
been introduced. Introduced legislation pertaining to a regulatory proceeding covered in this
report is also included irrespective of whether it has passed at least one chamber.

Actions Excluded
In addition to excluding most legislation that has been introduced but not advanced, this report
excludes a review of state actions pertaining to solar incentives, as well as more general utility
cost recovery and rate design changes, such as decoupling or time-of-use tariffs. General
changes in state implementation of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 and
subsequent amendments, including changes to the terms of standard contracts for Qualifying
Facilities or avoided cost rate calculations, are also excluded unless specifically related to the
policies described above. The report also does not cover changes to a number of other policies
that affect distributed solar, including solar access laws, interconnection rules, and renewable
portfolio standards. Details and updates on these and other policies and incentives are available
at www.dsireusa.org.

The 50 States of Solar: Q1 2017 Executive Summary | 4

In the first quarter of 2017, 40 states plus DC took a total of 134 actions related to distributed
solar policy and rate design (Figure 1). Table 1 provides a summary of state actions related to
net metering, rate design, and solar ownership during Q1 2017. Of the 134 actions catalogued,
the most common were related to residential fixed charge and minimum bill increases (46),
followed by net metering (31), and solar valuation or net metering studies (16).

Table 1. Q1 2017 Summary of Policy Actions
Policy Type

# of Actions

% by Type

# of States

Residential fixed charge or minimum bill increase
Net metering
Solar valuation or net metering study
Community solar
Residential demand or solar charge
Third-party ownership of solar
Utility-led rooftop PV programs



23 + DC
14 + DC




40 States + DC

Note: The “# of States/ Districts” total is not the sum of the rows, as some states have multiple actions. Percentages are rounded
and may not add up to 100%.

Five of the quarter’s top policy developments are highlighted below.
New York Issues Landmark Value of Distributed Energy Resources Order
New York took a major step toward a net metering successor, finalizing a new Value of
Distributed Energy Resources (VDER) tariff that will initially apply to new community solar and
certain other large solar projects, with the goal of expanding the VDER compensation structure
to all DER projects. The new rates will be comprised of the locational marginal price, a capacity
value, an environmental benefits value, and a market transition credit.
Maine Adopts a Net Metering Successor Tariff
In Q1 2017, Maine became the fourth state to transition away from retail rate net metering,
following Hawaii, Nevada, and Arizona. The Public Utilities Commission adopted a buy-all sellThe 50 States of Solar: Q1 2017 Executive Summary | 5

all policy, which gradually reduces the transmission and distribution credit paid to customergenerators. The rules grandfather existing customers for 15 years.
Indiana Bill to Eliminate Net Metering Moves Forward
An active Indiana bill – S.B. 309 – would eliminate retail rate net metering in favor of a buy-all,
sell-all policy. The bill passed the State Senate during Q1 2017 and the State House in early
Q2. If enacted, customer-generators signing up after the state’s 1% aggregate cap on net
metering is reached would be compensated at 1.25 times the average wholesale rate. All
customer-generators would transition to the new compensation scheme in July 2027.

Figure 1. Q1 2017 Action on Net Metering, Rate Design, & Solar Ownership Policies

Settlement Agreement Filed in Arizona Public Service Rate Case
A settlement agreement with 30 signatories was filed in Arizona Public Service’s high-profile
rate case during Q1 2017. The agreement includes several rate options for residential
customers, including a time-of-use option without a demand charge. The agreement also sets
the new credit rate for exported energy at $0.129 per kWh for the first year. The settlement is
currently pending approval.

The 50 States of Solar: Q1 2017 Executive Summary | 6

Texas and Massachusetts Utilities Propose Demand-Based Minimum Bills
In Q1 2017, both Oncor in Texas and Eversource in Massachusetts proposed demand-based
minimum bills for residential DG customers. Structured as minimum bills, these demand
charges would only be charged to the extent that a customer’s total bill falls below the demand
charge. Eversource’s proposed minimum bill also includes a flat component.

Emergence of Proposed “Hybrid” Charges on Solar Customers
Two unique proposals for new solar customer charges emerged in Q1 2017. Oncor’s proposed
charge takes the form of a demand-based minimum bill, while Eversource’s proposed charge is
a hybrid of a fixed charge, demand charge, and minimum bill. The introduction of new fees that
do not fit neatly within the traditional definitions of fixed charges, demand charges, and
minimum bills is an area to watch.
Credit Rate Changes and Virtual Net Metering Dominate 2017 Net Metering Bills
At least 65 bills pertaining to net metering have been introduced in state legislatures this
session, as of mid-April 2017. While proposed changes relate to everything from equipment
requirements to aggregate caps, the majority of bills address net metering credit rates and
virtual net metering. This is consistent with overall action observed during Q1 2017, where 15
states took action related to the development of a net metering successor tariff or adjusting
credit rates for excess generation.
Requests to Increase Fixed Charges Struggle to Find Success
Utility requests to increase residential fixed charges continued to struggle in Q1 2017, with no
utilities receiving their full requested increase. Two requests were withdrawn during the quarter,
and twelve decisions were made, in which two utilities received no increase and ten received
only a partial increase. Overall, utilities were on average granted 16% of their requested
increases during Q1 2017. Excluding withdrawn requests, utilities received 19% of their original
requests on average.
Community Solar Continues to Make Measured Policy Strides
States continue to take slow, yet steady steps toward enabling community solar, with Virginia
becoming the 17th state to adopt a statewide community solar policy this past quarter, following
Illinois in Q4 2016, and Rhode Island in Q2 2016. At least five states without existing community
solar policies saw legislation introduced this session to enable community solar.

The 50 States of Solar: Q1 2017 Executive Summary | 7

Content Included in the Full Quarterly Report:
 Detailed policy tables describing each pending and recently decided state and
utility action regarding:
o Net Metering
o Distributed Solar or DG Valuation
o Community Solar
o Residential Fixed Charge and Minimum Bill Increases
o Residential Solar Charges (Demand Charges, Standby Charges, & Grid
Access Charges)
o Third-Party Ownership
o Utility-Led Rooftop Solar
 Links to original legislation, dockets, and commission orders for each policy
 Summary maps of action for each policy category above, including a separate
Powerpoint file of all summary maps
 Qualitative analysis and descriptive summaries of solar policy action and trends
 Outlook of action for the next quarter

The 50 States of Solar allows those involved in the solar and electric utility industry to
easily stay on top of legislative and regulatory changes. The report provides a
comprehensive quarterly review of actions, an undertaking that would take any one
business or organization weeks of time and thousands of dollars in staff time. At a cost
of $500 per issue (or $1,600 annually), the 50 States of Solar offers an invaluable time
and financial savings. With direct links to original sources for all actions, customers may
stay on top of legislative and regulatory developments between quarterly reports.
Solar Installation and Manufacturing Companies
 Identify new market opportunities, as well as changing and risky markets
 Stay on top of state policy developments relevant to your business
 Give your own team a head start in tracking legislative and regulatory
The 50 States of Solar: Q1 2017 Executive Summary | 8

Investor-Owned and Public Power Utilities
 Learn about the approaches being taken by other utilities facing similar
 Stay on top of relevant state policy developments
 Utilize an objective source of information in legislative and regulatory
Investors and Financial Analysts
 Identify new investment opportunities and emerging areas of growth, as well as
risky investments
 Access rate data that is often buried in regulatory filings
Advocacy Organizations
 Learn about the diverse solar policy and rate proposals in other states
 Learn about the outcomes of other state’s policy and rate decisions
 Utilize an objective source of information in legislative and regulatory
Researchers and Consultants
 Access valuable data requiring an immense amount of time to collect first-hand
 Identify research needs to inform solar policy and rate design proceedings
 Cite an objective source in your own research and analysis

Visit https://commerce.cashnet.com/NCSU-NCCETC to purchase the full 50 States
of Solar Q1 2017 Quarterly Report.
Customer Type

Annual Subscription

Single Report –
Current Quarter

Business or Individual



Non-Profit, Government, or



Previous editions of the 50 States of Solar are offered at a discounted rate. Visit the link
above for details. Customers purchasing an annual subscription, receive complimentary
access to all past editions of the report.

Policymakers and regulators (limited to federal and state legislators and staffers,
utility commissioners, utility commission staff, state consumer advocate office staff, and

The 50 States of Solar: Q1 2017 Executive Summary | 9

state energy office staff) and students (for academic purpose only): Contact us to
receive a complimentary copy of the most recent report.

The NC Clean Energy Technology Center also offers customized policy research and
analysis services. Visit http://www.dsireusa.org/services/ to learn more.

The 50 States of Solar: Q1 2017 Executive Summary | 10