The Sol SOURCE: Solar Report for April 2018
The Sol SOURCE is a monthly journal that our team distributes to our network of clients and solar stakeholders. Our newsletter contains trends and observations gained through monthly interviews with our team, and it incorporates news from a variety of industry resources.
Maryland – It’s no secret that Maryland’s solar market could use a little TLC. Maryland’s annual solar build fell from 2016 to 2017 according to GTM & SEIA’s Solar Market Insight Report. This is largely in response to a crash in the state’s solar renewable energy credit (SREC); prices have fallen from above $100 / SREC in early 2016 to around $10 / SREC currently.
In an effort to reinvigorate the market and reinstate Maryland’s leadership in clean energy, Delegate Frick and Senator Feldman introduced the Clean Energy Jobs Act of 2018. The legislation would have increased the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) to 50 percent by 2030, with a whopping 14.5 percent coming from solar energy alone.
The proposed solar carve-out failed for two reasons. First, it was a bit aggressive in its goals. For reference, D.C. and the pending legislation in NJ are the only markets that require a 5 percent solar carve-out. Second, the Maryland legislation has a bit of RPS fatigue, as it was only a year ago that they worked diligently to override the Governor’s veto to pass another RPS bill
However, Maryland is falling behind other leadership states such as New York, D.C., New Jersey, and others who have reached for 50 percent renewable goals in their most recent legislation. And there is no doubt that Maryland needs to increase its renewables goal at a time when state actions matter more than ever. there is still an opportunity for change one day, though it may take some time. Under HB1414, passed in 2017, a comprehensive study of the state’s RPS is required and set to be completed by December 2019. An interim report is set to be delivered by December 2018. Advocates are hoping that this will tee Maryland up for a future RPS increase.
Michigan – If the Michigan solar market was a dish, it would be slow cooked. You’d put it in the crockpot and a few years later, it’d be there, patiently simmering with a variety of flavors in various public service commission dockets. Or, that’s how it feels, anyway. For years, advocates have been pushing to implement PURPA. While this implementation is ongoing, utilities have also filed separate plans detailing how they will comply with the RPS increase passed at the end of 2016. On top of that, DTE has completed a certificate of need (CON) to construct a 1,100 MW natural gas combined cycle plant in Michigan. Advocates are arguing that the plant is more expensive than renewable resources, and that DTE should fill its capacity needs with renewables instead. The Commission must make a decision by April 27. All of these filings are technically separate, though they intersect in interesting ways. Pay attention to Michigan; this market has been cooking for some time and is almost ready to serve.
New Jersey – Elections matter. Only months after Governor Christie pocket vetoed pro-solar legislation, new legislation now awaits recently elected Governor Murphy’s signature. A3723 / S2314 will provide a big boost to the New Jersey solar market by increasing the state’s solar mandate to 5.1 percent by 2021. Previously, New Jersey’s solar carve-out required 4.1 percent by energy year 2028. New Jersey, long a leader in solar energy deployment, will join other states such as California, New York, D.C., and others with a 50 percent renewable energy goal; the 50 percent must be hit by 2030. The legislation will also jumpstart community solar in the Garden State. It will also help grow the industry and add on to the 7,000 jobs that currently exist in the state.
While the legislation still needs to be signed by Governor Murphy before going into effect, we are hopeful that this will be no issue. Murphy campaigned on a 50 percent RPS before being elected in November 2017.
- Nearly a year and a half after the passage of the Future Energy Jobs Act, the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) has approved the Long-Term Renewable Resources Procurement Plan. This means that solar is that much closer to popping in the Land of Lincoln. Customers interested in pursuing solar should contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Members of our team attended the Montgomery County (MD) Clean Energy Summit to hear about the impressive clean energy progress being made just north of the nation’s capital. Among other grid-resilience initiatives, the county is building microgrids to power county-owned buildings, joining others across the country in adding microgrids to their portfolio.
- Corporate giants Apple and Google both claim to have reached their respective goals of powering 100 percent of operations with renewable energy. This achievement headlines the momentum corporate renewable procurement has been gathering, which led to 2.78 GW of publicly-announced renewables purchases by corporations in 2017.
- In October 2017 Pennsylvania lawmakers, along with the governor, passed Act 40, which limited the ability of out-of-state solar energy systems to sell SRECs into the state. Since then, there has been confusion about how the law would be interpreted by the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission (PUC), as the law itself was unclear as to its intent. On Thursday, April 19, after several months of public comment, the PUC provided guidance on the implementation of Act 40, and voted to reject an interpretation that would have “grandfathered” out-of-state solar energy systems. Systems that are not within the geographical boundaries of the state of Pennsylvania will now only be eligible for PA Tier 1 RECs, not SRECs, even if they are already registered for SRECs. The PA PUC has not yet issued their Final Implementation Order, so there are still several unknowns regarding implementation of the joint motion, including the timing of decertification and how systems will become certified for Tier 1 RECs. That said, their decision is final.
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Photo Credit: Steve Rainwater via Flickr