Click here to access the web edition of The Sol SOURCE Q2 2020.
The Sol SOURCE is a quarterly journal that our team distributes to our network of clients and solar stakeholders. Our newsletter contains trends and observations gained through quarterly interviews with our team, and it incorporates news from a variety of industry resources.
New Jersey – On April 30, 2020 the New Jersey Solar Renewable Energy Credit (“SREC”) program closed and the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (“BPU”) shifted solar projects to a temporary, transition incentive program (“TREC”). In the coming months, we expect the BPU to continue taking comments from the solar industry and other interested parties to ensure a smooth transition from the legacy SREC program to the new TREC program. Solar projects that did not receive PTO by April 30, 2020 will automatically rollover into the new TREC program, and new projects will be able to enter the transition program until a successor program is finalized.
While the transition program will provide short-term stability, the solar industry is still awaiting the BPU’s proposal of a long-term successor program. Sol, along with many others in the industry, continues to engage with other industry partners and with the BPU on the implementation of the TREC program and the proposal of a long-term successor program and will provide update and clarity as possible.
Massachusetts – On April 15, 2020, in response to the results of the 400 MW Review of the Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (”SMART”) program, the Department of Energy Resources (“DOER”) issued an order both expanding the program to 3,200 MW and altering some important program features. While the expansion of SMART is great news, certain alterations have caused concern in the industry.
One of the most concerning revisions proposed by DOER is the 250% increase of the greenfield subtractor. This proposed change has many in the solar industry questioning if this too high of an increase, one that could impact project economics. An additional source of concern is the requirement that, unless otherwise exempted, all projects over 500 kW should include a storage component.
Overall, DOER’s proposed changes will alter how solar developers approach Massachusetts. The state held a virtual hearing on the proposed changes on May 22 and particular concerns should be shared with DOER through formal comment due June 1. Sol Systems will continue to engage and provide updates as the program revisions progress.
Illinois – For those active in the Illinois market, there is much to track. On the legislative side, the industry is working on a solution that would expand and provide additional funding for the Adjustable Block Program (“ABP”). Without an extension of the APB, new in-state solar projects could come to a halt.
On the regulatory side, Ameren filed a petition with the Illinois Commerce commission asserting that distributed solar capacity has reached three percent. However, many in the solar industry argue that Ameren’s calculation is flawed and have appealed the commission.
Specifically, if Ameren indeed reached the 3% threshold, it will trigger a review of their net metering compensation rate. Once net metered volume hits 5% the compensation rate will change. Sol will continue to track the Ameren proceeding and any legislative developments.
- The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has been hard at work finding federal solutions to COVID-19’s impact on the industry, as well as working on the state level to ensure permitting, construction, and other essential activities continue to keep solar infrastructure projects moving forward. The organization has launched a COVID-19 resources webpage for solar companies.
- In spite of efforts to retain renewables jobs during the COVID-19 crisis, an estimated 106,000 U.S. clean energy employees went out of work in March, with current predictions warning that the number could rise to as high as 500,000 by the end of June. These job losses come as the entire country and much of the world adapts to the drastic changes made in society to combat this virus.
- There has been a measurable drop in carbon emissions from data recorded during mass stay-at-home orders, as many cars have been kept off the roads and planes out of the sky. Scientists have predicted a 6% global drop in energy demand for 2020, the equivalent of the energy demand of India.
- As scientists have warned for years, the measures taken to combat climate change may need to be equally drastic in scope to those taken for COVID-19, and if the crisis has proven anything, it’s that the world is willing to make changes when convinced of a distinct and present danger. As we think ahead of what a post-COVID world may look like, the potential to institute massive change to turn the tides on climate change could emerge, if the climate change movement strikes while the iron is hot.
- Although solar construction has been deemed essential in states like Illinois, much of the work needed to make progress on projects is halted by the absence of roles that have not been deemed essential, such as land surveyors. Our team has dug deep into the issue in a recent blog post.
- For a record 40 straight days, renewable energy sources have generated more electricity than coal in the United States according to the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA). The IEEFA noted the possibility that renewable energy could exceed coal for the first time ever this year on an annual basis.
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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 ten years, Sol Systems has delivered 800 MW 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