There are 20 active shared renewables programs in place in 16 states plus Washington, D.C.
- Two received A grades (10%)—Minnesota and New York. These states have incorporated the majority of shared renewables best practices identified by IREC.
- Nine received B grades (45%)—Colorado, Washington, D.C., Illinois, Massachusetts (Community Shared Solar/Virtual Net Metering), Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Oregon. Although these states have some room for improvement, their programs reflect many best practices and offer solid foundations for shared renewable energy development.
- Six received C grades (30%)—California (Virtual Net Metering), Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts (Neighborhood Net Metering), Rhode Island and Vermont. These programs lack many of the key components necessary for successful market development.
- Three received D grades (15%)—California (Enhanced Community Renewables component of the Green Tariff Shared Renewables program), Connecticut (Virtual Net Metering) and Connecticut (Shared Clean Energy Facility Pilot Program). These programs do not comport with many of the IREC-identified best practices which could impede program effectiveness and market development.
WHAT’S NEW IN THE 2019 SCORECARD?
- PROGRAM VIABILITY METRIC INCREASED: In 2018, we added an extra credit question that provides additional points if more than 10 megawatts have been installed under a program. In 2019, programs only received the bonus points if they had at least 100 megawatts of shared renewables capacity installed.
- SLIGHT REVISION TO BILL CREDIT VALUATION CRITERION: In 2018, we added a scoring metric to capture the various ways that states are attempting to provide fair and adequate compensation for shared renewable energy generation, including bill credits valued at the utility’s retail rate, credits that include generation and some portion of transmission and/or distribution rate components, or renewable energy credits (RECs) that are used to enhance the bill credit value. Because REC values are generally provided in addition to the bill credit value, those programs that are using RECs to enhance the bill credit value have been awarded less points.
- MARKET DEVELOPMENT CRITERIA POINTS INCREASED: Two factors that can greatly impact market development potential are program capacity limits and program time limits (i.e., sunset dates). In 2019, we revised these criteria to provide additional points to uncapped programs with no sunset date.
STATE PROGRAMS NOT GRADED IN 2019 SCORECARD
- Three other programs are in the process of being finalized and implemented—California’s Community Solar – Green Tariff program, Connecticut’s Shared Clean Energy Facility program (non-pilot version) and Maine’s Net Energy Billing Tariff Rate program (competitive procurement program). The rules for all state programs, whether they are graded in our Scorecard or not, are captured in IREC’s Shared Renewables Policy Catalog.
STATE COMPARISON ON KEY PROGRAM COMPONENTS
- BILL CREDIT VALUATION – Ensuring that a program offers a fair value proposition to participants and tangible economic benefits on their utility bills is critical for program success and is the second of IREC’s Five Guiding Principles for Shared Renewable Energy Programs. All but two programs (California’s Enhanced Community Renewables program and Hawaii’s Community-Based Renewable Energy program) provide bill credit rates that are either at the utility’s retail rate, combine the generation rate with at least some portion of the transmission and/or distribution charge, and/or use renewable energy credits (RECs) to enhance the bill credit value.
- PROJECT SITING REQUIREMENTS – Giving providers flexibility with respect to where they locate facilities—especially whether facilities are on-site, with some or all participants, or off-site—can maximize the options available to customers and help to drive down costs for customers as well. Out of the 20 programs, one requires facilities to be located on-site (California’s Virtual Net Metering program) and one was geared toward off-site facilities (Connecticut’s Shared Clean Energy Facility Pilot Program).
- INTERCONNECTION PROCEDURES – Effective interconnection processes are essential to supporting a successful shared renewable energy program. Only six states, including California, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York and Oregon, received an ‘A’ grade from Freeing the Grid, indicating that the remaining states could benefit from aligning their interconnection standards with best practices (see IREC’s 2019 Model Interconnection Procedures).
- LOW- TO MODERATE-INCOME CUSTOMER PARTICIPATION – Fifteen programs include provisions to increase low- to moderate-income customer participation, such as capacity carve-outs or targets. Of those, ten programs have in some way addressed financing barriers faced by low- to-moderate income participants, which tend to be the most significant obstacles to participation for these customers, as discussed in IREC’s Shared Renewable Energy for Low- to Moderate-Income Consumers: Policy Guidelines and Model Provisions.
- SUBSCRIPTION PORTABILITY & TRANSFERABILITY – A participant’s ability to move within a utility service territory and keep their shared renewables subscription (portability) or transfer their subscription to someone else or back to the project owner or manager if they move out of the service territory (transferability) offers flexibility that is important to consumers. Fourteen programs explicitly permit transferability, while only nine programs explicitly allow portability.
- THIRD PARTY OWNERSHIP & MANAGEMENT – To date, all state programs allow for third-party providers to own shared renewables facilities, as well as manage them with respect to program participation, including subscriber outreach and management. Allowing for third-party provider participation is an important way to promote fair market competition, in line with the fourth of IREC’s Five Guiding Principles, and all programs received credit accordingly.
- DATA TRACKING & REPORTING – Sixteen states have data tracking and reporting requirements (and receive Scorecard points accordingly), but they vary widely in reporting frequency and granularity of data tracked. If reported regularly (preferably on at least a monthly basis), data can be used to gauge program effectiveness and remaining program capacity, if applicable.