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.

Below, we have included excerpts from the February 2018 edition. To receive future Journals, please subscribe or email SOURCE@solsystems.com.

STATE MARKETS

Illinois – While implementation on the rooftop, commercial & industrial, and community solar programs is still underway, the latest utility-scale (defined as projects above 2MW) solar renewable energy credits (RECs) procurement has been announced. The Illinois Power Agency is seeking 800,000 annual RECS. Part 1 proposals were due on the 16th and results will be announced at the end of March. Despite the progress on the regulatory side to implement the ambitious Future Energy Jobs Act legislation, new hurdles could come as the agricultural community looks to preemptively create more onerous permitting requirements in the form of an Agricultural Impact Mitigation Act.

There are numerous new solar programs under the Future Energy Jobs Act, and our conversation with potential customers shows us there’s still room for more education and awareness in this nascent market. Interested in learning how your organization can benefit from new solar programs to be released this summer? Contact us at taylor.leyden@solsystems.com.

Massachusetts – Unlike Illinois, where many solar customers are being approached for the first time, landowners and potential solar customers are accustomed to cold calls and emails from solar developers in Massachusetts. The only difference now is managing expectations under SMART, a less-rich (but still very attractive) solar incentive, versus the more generous rates that customers were used to seeing under the SREC I and II programs.

Hopefully, this readjustment period won’t take long. There’s currently urgency to get projects into the interconnection queue to secure a position in the earlier blocks, because the longer a customer waits, the lower the incentive value the project will receive. This leaves the customer with a less lucrative deal, as the SMART incentive value declines as each block’s megawatt threshold is reached. This rush is especially true, as always, in National Grid territory.

Customers interested in learning more about solar leasing opportunities under the new Massachusetts SMART program can contact us at anna.noucas@solsystems.com.

New York – For years, the solar industry has been vocal about the need for reform to the Megawatt Block commercial and industrial (C&I) program (OK – a lot of that was us). Then, this fall, NYSERDA began a stakeholder process to redesign the Megawatt Block program. Notable revisions include:

  • Increasing the size of projects that qualify. Small commercial projects can now go up to 750kW, and commercial and industrial projects can now qualify up to 7.5MW.
  • Incorporating Massachusetts-style “adders” for projects that incorporate New York specific policy goals, such as storage, brownfield development, and projects developed in strategic locations.
  • Changing the incentive structure from the previously flawed volumetric/monetary performance-based incentive to a new dollar per Watt performance-based incentive.
  • Strengthening the requirements to reserve a block allocation, which together with a huge amount of work NYSERDA and NYSEIA have been doing to clean up interconnection, should go a long way toward preventing “queue clogging.” This practice previously allowed less viable projects to reserve space in higher incentive blocks and artificially pushed all other pipeline to lower incentive levels ahead of schedule.

We applaud NYSERDA for its reforms. Still, we would like to see more active participation from the solar industry, and specifically more thoughts around the incentive calculations; they look a little thin upstate to us, and NYSERDA still hasn’t published the model they’re using to determine them.  Rigorous policing of the 85%+ of applications that are a year or more old and are not yet operational might help. While the stakeholder process is nearly over, we still encourage all solar industry participants to check out the NYSERDA proposal and let NYSEIA know how it would work for you.

Last, we are interested in speaking to developers in need of offtake with awards from the Tier 1 REC solicitation. Contact colin.murchie@solsystems.com.

SOLAR CHATTER

  • Will Michigan become one of the hottest new markets for solar? It’s looking that way. The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) is pushing forward on its implementation of PURPA. While there has been utility pushback (they wasted no time making capacity payments variable), the MPSC will allow the first 150MW of solar projects to proceed at the avoided cost rates that they established for Consumers Energy until a decision on capacity needs can be made.
  • As solar’s growth continues in PJM, interconnection queues are jammed in several states. Notably, we are finding that utilities in PJM have a backlog of interconnection studies to public, sometimes leading to several month-long delays in project development.
  • With headwinds at the federal level, states will have to lead on renewable energy deployment now more than ever. Shout out to Rhode Island’s Distributed Generation Board (DG Board) and Office of Energy Resources (OER) for commissioning a consultant report analyzing the effects of tax reform and the Section 201 tariffs on Rhode Island’s renewable energy programs. The result was a recommendation to increase ceiling prices under the state’s RE Growth program from 3-12%, depending on the technology. We hope that other states will follow in this forward-thinking approach. Thank you, Rhode Island, for your leadership. Customers interested in learning more about what this means for them in the 2018 procurements should contact noucas@solsystems.com.
  • Given solar industry volatility over these last several years, customers are becoming more concerned about never seeing their project come to fruition, even after a PPA is signed. How can you tell if a solar company has staying power? in any RFP or similar, we suggest buyers request a summary of any and all PPAs that did not proceed to commercial operation.

ABOUT SOL SYSTEMS

Sol Systems, a national solar finance and development firm, delivers sophisticated, customized services for institutional, corporate, and municipal customers. Sol is employee-owned, and has been profitable since inception in 2008. Sol is backed by Sempra Energy, a $25+ billion energy company.

Over the last eight years, Sol Systems has delivered 650MW of solar projects for Fortune 100 companies, municipalities, universities, churches, and small businesses. Sol now manages over $650 million in solar energy assets for utilities, banks, and Fortune 500 companies.

Inc. 5000 recognized Sol Systems in its annual list of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies for four consecutive years. For more information, please visit www.solsystems.com.