How Does Your State’s Community Solar Program Measure Up?

A national scorecard released by the independent Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) grades the nearly 20 state shared renewable energy programs (aka community renewables or community solar).

The scorecard, which uses specific criteria to evaluate how each program stacks up to national best practices and one another, grades 17 active shared renewables programs in 13 states plus Washington, D.C.

The 2018 scorecard builds off the 2017 scorecard and uses updated criteria to better reflect evolving program components and market viability. For example, toward a measure of overall program performance, extra credit is now given to programs that have installed at least 10 megawatts of capacity. Additionally, the 2018 scorecard includes a new scoring metric to capture the various ways states are providing direct economic benefits to program subscribers.

  • The majority of programs that were graded (47 percent of them) are in the “C” range and include programs in Connecticut (Virtual Net Metering), Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts (Neighborhood Net Metering), Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. These programs lack the key program components necessary for successful market development, according to IREC.
  • About 12 percent of the programs got “A” grades and they are in Minnesota and New York because they have incorporated the majority of identified shared renewables best practices.
  • California (Virtual Net Metering), Colorado, Washington, D.C., Massachusetts and Maryland received “B” grades for their programs (29 percent of the sample). Although these states have some room for improvement, their programs reflect many best practices and offer solid foundations for shared renewable energy development.
  • California’s Enhanced Community Renewables component of Green Tariff Shared Renewables and Connecticut’s Shared Clean Energy Facility Pilot Program received “D” grades. IREC said these programs do not comport with many of the identified best practices, which could impede program effectiveness and market development.

Three additional states – Illinois, New Jersey, and Oregon – are in the process of implementing new programs and are not yet graded.

The details of all state programs are available in IREC’s free Shared Renewables Policy Catalog. In addition to mandatory statewide programs, utilities in more than half of U.S. states are voluntarily creating shared solar programs.

 “More states are adopting shared renewable energy programs as a means to ensure more consumers can benefit from clean, renewable energy – including lower income households, multi-family dwellers and underserved communities,” says IREC President/CEO Larry Sherwood. “And they are realizing the economic and environmental benefits of these programs.”

“States play an important role in scaling successful shared renewables programs that benefit customers and increase the amount of clean energy on the electric grid,” says IREC Regulatory Director Sara Baldwin Auck. “IREC’s National Scorecard offers a glimpse into how states are performing relative to best practices and each other, shedding light on strengths and opportunities for improvement.”

Utility community solar programs will be discussed in depth at DistribuTECH 2019 in New Orleans, February 4-6, 2019. Learn more about the event here.  


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