Shared Renewable Energy
These programs are sometimes called various other names, including “community renewable energy” or “community renewables” programs. They are programs that enable multiple customers to share the economic benefits of one renewable energy system via their individual utility bills. Participants purchase an interest in generation from a common renewable energy system, and directly receive the benefits of their participation on their utility bills. Some, although not all, shared renewables programs rely on virtual net metering (VNM) to allocate bill credits among participating customers; others rely on a separate bill credit allocation mechanism. Shared renewables programs can be distinguished from community renewables investment programs, green tariffs, group purchasing programs, and other community or community-based renewable energy programs.
For more details on all of the current state shared renewable energy programs and many of the terms defined below, see IREC’s Shared Renewables Policy Catalog and IREC’s Model Rules for Shared Renewable Energy Programs.
Note: The following terms and definitions are grouped in the same five categories in which they appear in the Scorecard criteria:
1. General Program Details
Means how long the program will be active and available to customers. For example, the program may be a full program with no end date; a pilot program that might be extended beyond its initial phase; or a time-limited program with a specific sunset date (defined below).
Means the specific date the program is set to end, if applicable.
Aggregate Capacity Limit
Means the cap on the size of the program, if applicable. For example, the program may be capped once participating facilities cumulatively reach a certain number of megawatts in generating capacity or a percentage of a utility’s peak demand.
Means the process by which renewable energy systems physically connect to the utility grid. For more information, see IREC’s Model Interconnection Procedures and Freeing the Grid.
Means any aspect of the program specifically designed in consideration of low- to moderate-income (LMI) customers. For example, the program may reserve a certain amount of program capacity for LMI customers, address financial barriers faced by LMI customers or give preference to facilities with LMI subscribers. For more information, see IREC’s Shared Renewable Energy for Low- to Moderate-Income Consumers: Guidelines and Model Provisions.
2. Consumers and Subscriptions
Eligible Customer Classes
Means the customer rate classes that can participate in the program. For example, a program may be open to all rate classes, including residential and non-residential classes (i.e., all eligible classes), or a program may limit participation to facilities serving only certain customer classes, such as state, municipal, or agricultural customers.
Subscription Minimum Size
Means the minimum size of each customer’s subscription, in kilowatts or megawatts, under the program’s rules, if specified.
Subscription Maximum Size
Means the maximum size of each customer’s subscription, in kilowatts or megawatts, under the program’s rules, if specified.
Minimum Participation Term
Means the minimum length of time that a subscriber must participate in the program, if specified.
Maximum Participation Term
Means the maximum length of time that a subscriber may participate in the program, if specified.
Means a customer’s subscription can move with the customer when the customer moves within the utility’s service territory.
Means a customer’s subscription can be transferred to another customer or back to the subscription organization.
3. Generation Systems
Means the types of renewable energy technologies that can participate in the program – for example, solar, wind, other renewables that may be defined by state law (e.g., geothermal, etc.), or other technologies (e.g., combined heat and power systems).
Considers whether facilities participating in the program may be owned by utilities, non-utilities (i.e., customers or third parties), or both.
Refers to the management of the shared renewable energy project, including managing subscribers, project marketing, and other responsibilities, and considers whether facilities may be managed by utilities, non-utilities (i.e., customers or third parties), or both. (Note: Management is distinct from ownership. For example, a utility could enter into a power purchase agreement for the generation from a third-party-owned facility, but could remain responsible for the management of that facility, i.e., manage the facility’s subscribers, marketing, etc. Alternatively, a utility could both own and manage a facility, or a third party could both own and manage a facility, depending on program rules.)
System Capacity Limit
Means the cap on the total capacity of a system, in kilowatts or megawatts, that can participate in the program, if applicable.
Minimum Number of Subscribers
Means the minimum number of customers who may subscribe to a facility under program rules, if applicable.
Maximum Number of Subscribers
Means the upper limit on the number of customers who may subscribe to a facility under program rules, if applicable.
Means any program requirements for the location of facilities, including any strategic siting requirements (e.g., optimal grid locations, or proximity to subscribers’ locations).
4. Bill Credit
kWh versus $
Means whether customers receive bill credits in kilowatt-hours (kWh) or dollars under the program’s rules.
Means the approach the program uses to calculate bill credits for customers. For example, a program may use the “embedded cost” approach or the “value-based” approach (each defined below), or some other method.
Means the approach whereby the bill credit value is calculated by multiplying (1) the subscriber’s share of the kWh electricity production from the facility and (2) the subscriber’s retail rate, with the value potentially adjusted to remove certain rate components (e.g., the distribution charge). For more information about various approaches to bill credit valuation, see IREC’s Model Rules for Shared Renewable Energy Programs.
Means the approach whereby the bill credit value is calculated by multiplying (1) the subscriber’s share of the kWh electricity production from the facility and (2) the value of the electricity produced as determined by the responsible regulatory body or agency, taking into account costs and benefits. For more information about various approaches to bill credit valuation, see IREC’s Model Rules for Shared Renewable Energy Programs.
Means the program’s valuation of bill credits is affected by the location of the facility and/or customers.
Means any electricity generated by a facility that is not assigned to subscribers.
5. Renewable Energy Credits
Renewable Energy Credits (RECs)
Means the tradable instruments that include all renewable and environmental attributes associated with the production of electricity from a shared renewable energy facility.
Means the RECs associated with electricity generated by a shared renewable energy facility that is not assigned to subscribers.
In the context of RECs, means how the program handles RECs, if specified.
In the context of RECs, means how the program values RECs, if specified.