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.
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.
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.
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 IREC works on clean energy policy and workforce efforts in states across the country, we keep the consumer focus front and center, bringing an important independent voice to the table. And from this vantage point, we’ve identified some key consumer-oriented trends that we expect to garner heightened attention going forward.
Amidst a growing sense of urgency to expedite the transition to a clean energy future, catalysts are paramount. Lasting reforms to our centuries-old energy system will not just magically happen in 50 states and a handful of territories. A planned, patient, and persistent approach is needed. This laborious (some might even say tedious) process takes a stimulus.
Along with the season’s time-honored traditions, comes time to pause and reflect on the past year and year to come. Here’s a closer look at what we can expect to play out in the national regulatory arena next year. It’s definitely shaping up to be an energetic year.