As I travel to cities across the country, I observe that new apartments, condominiums and mixed-use residential and commercial developments are cropping up around nearly every corner. Growing at a similar clip, residential solar installations on single family homes have soared, averaging a 68 percent annual growth rate for the last 10 years, resulting in a historic number of Americans reaping economic, environmental and societal benefits. It’s time to address the policy gaps that are eclipsing the solar opportunity for this growing sector of Americans.
Interconnecting DERs to the distribution grid is generally a “cost-causer pays” system: consumers who want solar pay for necessary distribution system upgrades, even when the upgrades will likely support future interconnection projects. What’s more, future projects benefit from investment in the grid’s infrastructure and could escape upgrade fees. Economics and fairness theories aside, this practice can kill perfectly viable and beneficial projects that didn’t budget for high upgrade costs and cause major delays in the process.
With more states adopting policies that enable community solar, and with voluntary utility programs on the rise, the community solar (aka shared solar) landscape is transforming quickly. Eleven states plus the District of Columbia have implemented active statewide community solar programs. Two additional states (Illinois and Oregon) are now moving to adopt new program rules.
If your inbox is anything like mine, it’s full of petitions to sign, commentaries of outrage and news links galore. And among last week’s good news is this: more than 1,000 leaders of cities, states, businesses and universities in the U.S. signed on to a letter signaling their continued support for the Paris Agreement. Here’s one instant action YOU can take right here, right now – in support of the work we can do together.
IREC is moving the bar forward for quality solar training for allied industry professionals with a series of educational forums on solar codes and safety. With recent updates to the national building and electrical codes, there are important changes to know that affect the safe installation of PV systems.
When it comes to preparing a power systems workforce for the future – with more renewable energy on the grid – we’re proving that multi-faculty instructional resources and expertise across educational institutions are greater than the resources and expertise within any single institution.
Throughout 2017, you will see celebratory signs of our 35th year, kicked off this week with our IREC@35 event in Washington, DC, March 8th. It was an extraordinary evening with IREC friends, supporters and partners during which we reveled in our collective achievements, and acknowledged the legendary accomplishments of our dear friend and respected colleague, IREC President Emeritus Jane Weissman.
The strength of our foundations will be both a theme and a measure of resilience in 2017. As considerable changes permeate the federal landscape and seep into our economic, environmental, social and energy spheres, the foundations upon which historic clean energy growth has been built will be put to the test. State and local governments will remain at the epicenter of clean energy deployment and policy innovation.
While millions of Americans can more easily, safely and affordably access renewable sustainable energy today because of our collaborative successes over the last three decades, the current environment in which we operate elevates the need for IREC’s continued leadership. Our unique, critically important work must continue – in your state and mine and across the U.S. And to meet these amplified challenges head on, we need your help more than ever.
IREC is an independent, non-governmental, non-lobbying organization. That said, it would be sticking our heads in the sand if we did not acknowledge the proverbial elephant (and donkey) in the room. The environment in which we operate has now changed with a new administration coming to power in Washington, DC.