Click here to read The Sol SOURCE October 2021.
The Sol SOURCE is a renewables journal that our team distributes to our network of clients and solar stakeholders. Our newsletter contains trends and observations gained through interviews with our team, incorporating news from a variety of industry resources.
California – Although the potential recall of Governor Newsom dominated headlines this summer, in the end, he garnered two-thirds support to remain in office. On September 23, 2021, Governor Newsom signed an Executive Order that requires all new cars and passenger trucks sold in California to be zero-emission by 2035. In addition, all medium- and heavy-duty vehicles must be zero-emission by 2045 where feasible (2035 for drayage trucks). Relatedly, California utilities are examining how to accommodate widespread EV adoption, with potential opportunities for DG. Closing briefs in the NEM 3.0 proceeding have been filed and we expect a proposed decision by early December 2021.
District of Columbia – On August 13, 2021, the DC Public Services Commission (PSC) proposed to require all renewable generating facilities, including behind-the-meter solar generators, to use a revenue-grade production meter or inverter-based production measurement equipment, as opposed to the current estimation procedures. Hundreds of individuals, organizations, key elected officials, and DC Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) oppose major elements of the proposal. Notably, D.C. Councilmember Mary Cheh recommended the final rule provide exemptions for both legacy systems (i.e., those in operation before the rule takes effect) as well as any resident unable to afford the required system upgrades. The comment deadline closed October 13, 2021, likely pushing a final rulemaking into the winter at the earliest, and potentially after the departure of Commissioner Phillips, who has been nominated to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
Illinois – After months of negotiations, on September 15, 2021, Governor Pritzker signed the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA), a landmark law which sets Illinois on a path to 100 percent clean electricity by 2050 and, importantly for the solar industry, opens and re-funds the Adjustable Block Program (ABP), which supports solar on schools, community-driven community solar, distributed generation (DG) that utilizes equity-eligible contractors, small DG, large DG, and community solar. The law also includes new labor standards including requiring the payment of prevailing wage for all solar projects that receive RECs from the Illinois Power Authority (IPA). Per the enacted law, the IPA announced it was withdrawing their current LTRRPP revision, with a new draft expected early 2022.
Massachusetts – On September 22, 2021, the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) finalized several SMART guidelines, including changes to energy storage, alternative programs for community shared solar tariff generation units and low-income community shared solar tariff generation units, and low-income generation units. Separately, we anticipate the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) to issue an order in Docket 20-75 (interconnection cost socialization) by the end of this year.
New York – On August 24, 2021, Governor Kathy Hochul August 24, 2021, Governor Kathy Hochul took office and will serve the remainder of the current term, setting up an active primary for next year’s election. Governor Hochul made a series of Climate Week policy announcements, including a near-doubling of the NY-SUN distributed solar program to 10 GW of installed solar capacity by 2030, with details of this and several solar programs forthcoming. Governor Hochul previously signed legislation phasing out the sale of emitting cars by 2035. On 9/30, Governor Hochul designated Rory Christian (previous Environmental Defense Fund clean energy leader) as chair of the Public Service Commission and chief executive officer of the Department of Public Service.
New Jersey – After months of stakeholder processes and input, the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) released four orders on July 28, 2021, including a detailed Solar Successor Incentive (SuSi) Program and the official closure of the Transition Incentive Program (August 27, 2021). The SuSi program is comprised of two separate incentives, the Administratively Determined Incentive (ADI) that provides fixed tiered incentives to specific project types five megawatts (MW) or smaller and the Competitive Solar Incentive (CSI) that will focus on projects over five MW (anticipated mid-2022).
North Carolina – On October 13, Governor Roy Cooper signed House Bill 951, Energy Solutions for North Carolina, which includes a number of provisions aimed at increasing clean energy deployment and reducing carbon emissions in the state. The bipartisan law sets as a target a 70% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2050. The law also provides provisions for utility procurement but falls short of meeting the needs of businesses and other large energy consumers.
Ohio – With Governor DeWine’s signature, SB 52 went into effect on October 11, 2021, revising the power siting approval process for utility-scale solar and wind projects (over 50 MW). The law requires approval from the county prior to applying to the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB), which will now include as voting members for each specific solar or wind project, two county and township government representatives or designees. The law also allows counties to establish restricted areas where wind and solar projects are prohibited, subject to referendum and requires developers to submit decommissioning plans when applying to OPSB.
Pennsylvania – The Pennsylvania Legislature held several informational legislative hearings this summer to discuss providing a stable investment framework to increase solar development in the Commonwealth, preservation of agricultural lands, site decommissioning, and forced labor prevention. Separately, the Commonwealth remains on track to begin participating in RGGI in 2022.
Virginia – Dominion filed its RPS compliance plan on September 15, 2021. Separately, the State Corporation Commission (SCC) is working to finalize the certifications for resources that will be used to comply with the Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA). The matter is currently awaiting a Commission Order that will approve the finalized GATS business rules for Virginia. Once approved, the rules are expected to be retroactive to January 1, 2021, meaning any RECs generated after that date from an eligible RPS resource should be available to satisfy Virginia RPS requirements. Click here to learn more about Virginia REC options.
FEDERAL BUDGET & INFASTRUCTURE WATCH
After a whirlwind summer on the Hill, the Biden Administration released the Build Back Better (BBB) reconciliation package on October 28; this is one of four must-pass pieces of legislation this fall – funding the federal government (the current continuing resolution runs out December 3), extending the debt limit, enacting the bipartisan infrastructure bill, and passing the clean energy and climate provisions in the reconciliation package (see our main trend article above). The extension and expansion of the clean energy tax credits as included in the BBB are critical to the solar industry’s continued growth.
President Biden and his trade team face a number of decisions this fall that could break what Congress makes under the BBB – extending Section 201 tariffs and/or granting the pending AD/CVD petitions could severely hamper solar supply chains just as we need them more than ever.
- This month, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen rightly declared climate change a systemic risk to the financial system. The Financial Stability Oversight Council report states it plainly: “Climate change is an emerging threat to the financial stability of the United States.”
The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), released its quarterly Solar Market Insight report on Q2 2021, in which the U.S. solar market surpassed 3 million total installations. The 5.7 GWdc of installed solar is the country’s largest Q2 in history, a large part of why solar accounted for 56% of new electricity generation added in the first half of the year. After a tough year marred by COVID-19, the solar industry, as it always has, continues to show impressive resilience.
SEIA released a first-of-its-kind online certification program that rewards energy companies for putting diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (DEIJ) best practices in place. The Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice Certification Program provides tools and guidance for companies as they analyze their practices and implement workplace solutions that improve diversity. As companies participate and excel in the program, they are eligible to receive either a Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum certification.
As DC PSC Commissioner Phillips awaits confirmation to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the Commission has split 2-2 on two major ISO/RTO filings, letting them go into effect by law. As a result, both PJM’s Minimum Offer Price Rule (MOPR) and the new Southeast Energy Exchange Market (SEEM) went into effect without a FERC order. Both can be appealed, setting up Commissioner Phillips as the decisive vote on both, as well as rulemakings coming out of the current push to reform interconnection and transmission queues.
On September 15, 2021, PJM proposed to reform interconnection queue processing with the intention to clear the current backlog and reform the process going forward. PJM proposes to move from the current “serial” cost allocation evaluation (aka first in, first considered) to a “cluster” approach similar to other RTOs. Details remain to be worked through, but clearing the 140 GW PJM queue would have significant climate benefits, given the vast majority of these projects are renewables.
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