After 22 years as the head of the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, I am stepping down as the organization’s president and CEO. It’s a bittersweet decision. This is not a retirement announcement; just a change I make with confidence and emotion.
IREC is involved in over a dozen simultaneous regulatory proceedings across the country at any given moment. Yet, rare it is when three state regulatory milestones occur within the same week. In an unexpected occurrence of regulatory synchronicity, the commissions of California, South Carolina and Maryland all hit the streets in the same week with some pretty big (and long-awaited) steps forward for consumer oriented clean energy. What’s more, IREC was thrilled to see clearly reflected in all of them the adoption of several IREC recommendations, all of which make it easier and more affordable for more consumers to access and benefit from clean energy.
As I write, there are many encouraging trends that point to continued growth and opportunity for the solar industry. The extension of the Investment Tax Credit, the historic Paris Agreement and the consistently impressive numbers from The Solar Foundation’s Solar Jobs Census, all indicate that the force is very much with the solar industry. The growing excitement about a solar future is reflected in questions we’ve received from attendees on recent webinars IREC’s hosted about the Solar Career Map.
We know that commercial and utility-scale solar installations are ringing up impressive numbers of megawatts. These vast solar power plants are bringing significant clean energy into the grid. But, it’s the door-to-door systems that are taking solar local, as rooftop residential systems are reaching new highs, adding more solar customers and constituents to the rolls.
Like a new Broadway hit, the debut of the Empire State’s ambitious regulatory initiative, Reforming the Energy Vision (REV), has garnered much fanfare and intrigue. And, rightly so, considering its lofty objectives to transform the energy sector in the state by integrating high volumes of distributed energy resources (DERs) into the electric system, among other goals.
IREC, partnering with Professional Testing, Inc. (PTI), the Building Performance Institute (BPI) and the Green and Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI), have released a prototype for a credible, valid, high-quality micro-credential development process. This pilot, still in progress, seeks to bring a new credentialing option to certified energy auditors who want to expand their home health assessment expertise.
It was a good month for California consumers and for clean energy progress across the U.S., as other states watched a landmark vote by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) that modifies but doesn’t undermine the state’s net energy metering program (NEM), and the value proposition of customer-generated distributed renewable energy.
The expectation is that 2016 will be a roller coaster ride for solar and clean energy markets. This is certainly not a novel occurrence. Each past year can easily be tagged as one with its ups and downs. Recent events give us cause for optimism but with caution.
Over the past decade, IREC has worked with dozens of states across the country to facilitate and support the adoption of fundamental regulatory policy reforms that maintain the safety and reliability of the electric grid, while also allowing for fair, affordable and efficient consumer access to renewable energy. Central to our efforts is a concerted focus on interconnection standards – the technical protocols that govern the processes by which renewable energy projects connect with the electricity grid.