Solar Trends Across the United States

Ian Bowman

Earlier this year Utility Dive presented a nice recap of what have been the key trends for Solar in the United States. Solar has become a hot topic of discussion in recent years and this buzz has gained momentum with the recent extension of the ITC. In 2015, 46 of the 50 states had solar debates on their ledger. Alaska, North Dakota, Wyoming, and Alabama were the four states that were free from talk of solar policy. For everyone else, the debate has been centered on a few key trends including: proper valuation, aggregation, and ownership models for renewable resources.

With the rise of renewables, states have begun to re-evaluate their net metering policies as well as the fixed and demand prices they charge. The following examples highlight the efforts made by utilities to change these rates:

  • 27 states have considered changing how solar owners are compensated
  • States are preparing successor tariffs on net metering and billing
  • Maine’s alternative policy would range from $0.10/kWh to $0.185/kWh
  • States are proposing that fix charges be increased
  • The median proposed fixed rate increase across 30 states was 62%
  • Of 21 regulatory decisions made, the median approved fixed charge was $10.85
  • Demand charge proposals have been aimed at rooftop solar customers

There is uncertainty due to the reduced financial value for solar customers that each of the proposals cause. Even though most states outlaw third-party ownership, much of the growth of solar ownership is due to third-party ownership models. More than 60% of residential systems were TPO-financed in both 2014 and 2015. While not a lot of utilities are looking at this opportunity, utility ownership of rooftop solar is emerging. Utilities in four states have already implemented or will implement programs for utility ownership of customer-sited rooftop solar systems. The only question is how regulated utilities will be able to participate in the highly competitive rooftop solar marketplace.

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The information in this page is offered only for general informational and educational purposes. It is not offered as and does not constitute legal advice.

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