IREC Announces Community Renewable Power Proposal

The Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc. (IREC) announces the release of its Community Renewable Power Proposal, which incorporates “best practices” in facilitating co-investment in local renewable power facilities.

IREC’s Proposal builds upon the best elements of community solar and renewables programs that have been adopted by a number of municipal utilities and by policy makers from diverse states, including California, Washington, Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont and Rhode Island.

Interest in community solar appears, at least in part, to come from recognition that many utility customers are not able to host an on-site system but would still like to invest in local renewable generation.  For example, many renters and occupants of multi-tenant residential and commercial buildings may lack necessary control of their premises to host an on-site solar PV system.  Add to that the potential for on-site shading and structural concerns and it becomes clear that even an eager property owner may not be able to host on-site PV generation.  In fact, a 2008 study of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) found that only 22 to 27 percent of residential buildings would be suitable for hosting an on-site PV system.

IREC believes community policies, if well designed, can provide the right policy approach for creating additional opportunities for customers to support local renewable power development.  Community systems can also harness economies of scale that can lower the overall cost of participation in a community system.

IREC is a non-profit organization that has worked for nearly three decades to accelerate the sustainable utilization of renewable energy resources through the development of programs and policies that reduce barriers to renewable energy deployment.  To realize this goal, IREC has participated in workshops, proceedings and rulemakings in more than 30 states during the past two years, addressing topics that directly impact the development of renewable energy resources, including net metering rules, interconnection standards, and third-party financing of renewable energy systems. IREC has also assembled model rules for interconnecting and net metering distributed generation that reflect “best practices” in these areas (i.e. those policies that have proven successful in facilitating growth in renewable distributed generation markets).

In light of the many benefits of community investment, IREC has set out to create a model community renewable program in an effort to guide policy makers and forward-looking utilities toward “best practices” in this evolving policy area.  As we have done with net metering and interconnection, IREC’s approach is to take the “best practices” from what has been implemented thus far and synthesize those components into a policy that is easy to both understand and implement. Although our work is still underway, the Community Renewable Power Concept Proposal that IREC is releasing today addresses what we believe to be some of the most salient considerations.

Comments and questions about this Proposal are welcome–send them to Joe Wiedman.

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