IREC developed the Scorecard criteria based on best practices contained in our Model Rules for Shared Renewable Energy Programs and our experience participating in shared renewables program rulemakings across the United States. We consulted with a wide range of knowledgeable national and state shared renewable energy experts and practitioners to refine the criteria further. Added together, the Scorecard criteria allow for a possible total of 100 points, with 5 additional “extra credit” points available to programs going above and beyond in certain areas.
The Scorecard criteria fall into the following main categories, with some of the most significant components highlighted below. Please refer to the Scorecard Definitions for more complete details regarding each category and the specific terms therein.
General Program Details
Including program timeframe, aggregate capacity limit, tracking and reporting requirements, and whether and how the program addresses low- to moderate-income (LMI) consumer participation.
Market continuity is an especially important aspect of program design that can help to avoid the boom-bust cycles of short duration programs. The Scorecard allocates points to programs that are not time-limited, including pilot programs with an eye toward full program roll-out after the pilot phase. Extra credit is awarded to full, non-time-bound programs with no pilot phase.
Tracking and Reporting Requirements
To understand how a program is functioning and whether it is successful or not, effective tracking and reporting are essential. The Scorecard allocates points to programs that have put in place at least basic tracking and reporting requirements (e.g., number of projects or total capacity installed under the program), and awards extra credit to programs that require additional detail.
LMI Consumer Participation
As IREC explains in more detail in our Shared Renewable Energy for Low- to Moderate-Income Consumers: Guidelines and Model Provisions, LMI energy consumers face particular barriers to participation in renewable energy programs, including shared renewables programs. The Scorecard contains a suite of criteria related to LMI participation, awarding some points to programs that include an LMI component of some kind, and more points to programs that address more specifically the financial and marketing, education, and outreach barriers that LMI consumers face.
Consumers and Subscriptions
Including eligible customer classes, minimum and maximum subscription sizes and terms, and subscription portability and transferability.
Portability and Transferability
One of the major draws for participants in shared renewables programs is their flexibility. Participants can move within a utility’s service territory and take their subscription with them (“portability”), or they can leave the program or the service territory and transfer their subscription to someone else, or back to the project owner or manager (“transferability”). Because these two program elements are so important to consumers and fundamental to shared renewables programs, the Scorecard only awards points to programs that explicitly provide for portability and transferability within their rules.
Including eligible technologies, requirements related to system ownership and management, system capacity limits, minimum and maximum numbers of subscribers per system, and system siting requirements.
System ownership and management
A competitive market is well suited to ensure the diversity of offerings necessary to accommodate various consumer values and priorities. A competitive program can allow a range of ownership structures and management models to flourish and it can also allow for a diversity of business models and product offerings, promoting innovation and providing consumers with more choice. Therefore, the Scorecard allocates the most points to programs that allow for third-party providers to own and manage shared renewables projects. If a program allows utilities to offer products alongside third parties, extra credit is awarded if utilities are limited to participation through an unregulated affiliate in order to ensure fair competition.
Including how the rate is valued. There is also a criterion regarding the treatment of unsubscribed energy.
Bill credit valuation is a fundamental component of program design. It is critical that the bill credit is sufficiently attractive to consumers and effectively allows for systems to be financed, while balancing concerns related to cost-shifting to non-participants. Because of the essential significance of this criterion, the Scorecard allocates it the most points by far.
Renewable Energy Credits (RECs)
Specifically how both subscribed and unsubscribed RECs are treated.
A Note on Consumer Protection
The Scorecard does not currently include consumer protection among the scoring criteria because best practice provisions have not yet emerged to allow us to grade it effectively across the programs in place. As this issue evolves over time, IREC may adjust the scoring criteria accordingly. Nonetheless, IREC emphasizes the foundational importance of thoughtful, balanced consumer protection provisions for all renewable energy programs. For additional detail on consumer protection considerations relevant to onsite solar, please see IREC’s Consumer Protection Trio, which includes the Clean Energy Consumer Bill of Rights, the Be Solar Smart Consumer Checklist, and a Resources list.