In this category, you’ll find IREC model rules for net metering, interconnection, shared renewables, and other regulatory reports in which IREC is a contributing author.
There is an acute need for a standardized approach to determining the benefits and costs associated with distributed solar generation (DSG). This report offers lessons learned from 16 regional and utility-specific DSG studies summarized in a recent review by the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), and then proposes a standardized valuation methodology for public utility commissions to consider implementing in future studies. October 2013
Revised in collaboration with The Vote Solar Initiative, the model rules were updated to assist stakeholders in developing shared renewables programs to broaden renewable energy access to more consumers. In addition, IREC updated its guiding principles for shared renewable energy programs to illustrate better these programs’ critical aspects. June 2013
Several recent Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) decisions have provided the needed justification to value the benefits of DG facilities. In this paper, the advantages and disadvantages of such an approach are discussed. It concludes with several considerations to address before PURPA could become a viable option for promoting DG growth in many states. May 2013
In this concept paper, IREC & Sandia National Laboratories propose an Integrated Distribution Planning (IDP) approach to proactive planning for DG growth. IDP leverages existing tools from distribution system planning to estimate the hosting capacity of distribution circuits in advance of a utility studying a particular interconnection request. IDP also analyzes a circuit’s ability to accommodate anticipated DG growth and identifies any potential infrastructure upgrades needed to accommodate that growth. May 2013
As costs of renewable energy come down and more systems connect to the grid, interconnection procedures developed over the last decade are under strain, according to Kevin Fox, lead author of the model revision. First developed in 2005 and updated in 2009, the 2013 edition of IREC’s Model Interconnection Procedures synthesizes a number of best practices in the evolution of safe and reliable connecting renewable energy systems to the utility grid. April 2013
California’s prescient policy support for DG has resulted in unprecedented distributed generation (DG) market growth and declining costs. In this report, authored by Sky Stanfield, Keyes, Fox & Wiedman LLP, identifies policies that will allow California to continue to support DG while driving projects into the highest-value locations in a manner that enables the state to get the most out of its investment. February 2013
Community-shared solar allow individuals and organizations unable to take advantage of on-site renewable generation to participate in distributed generation and support the development of renewable energy. In this two-pager created by IREC for the ICLEI Solar Outreach Partnership (Solar OPs), three case studies offer a glimpse at three different utilities’ approaches to offering community solar to their customers. Created by IREC for ICLEI and its partners in the Solar OPs for DOE’s SunShot Initiative. December 2012
Prepared by Joseph Wiedman and Erica Schroeder of Keyes, Fox & Wiedman, LLP, with an economic analysis provided by Thomas Beach of Crossborder Energy, TheReport provides background on DG and why the size, location and technology of DG resources matter in determining the benefits DG is able to provide. The Report also provides an analysis of the cost effectiveness of DG resources and, perhaps most importantly, recommends ways to maximize the benefits that DG can provide to the grid. These recommendations include creating localized incentives that target areas where grid support is most needed, providing resources on circuit availability and minimum load data and better integrating DG considerations into the utility planning process. July 2012
IREC’s new model rules consider many of the basic issues facing community renewables programs. These include: renewable system size, interconnection, eligibility for participation, allocation of the benefits flowing from participation, and net metering of system production. IREC developed the model program rules for community-scale renewable systems working closely with The Vote Solar Initiative, a California-based not-for-profit. December 2010
In regulated states, net metering is a fairly straightforward process, involving a transaction between a utility and customer. In complex competitive markets, however, retail choice providers and distribution utilities must communicate in order to provide net metering for their customers. Furthermore, every state has a different set of laws and regulations that make it difficult for retail choice companies working in multiple states at once. As a result, restructured states have yet to see a significant number of retail choice customers with net metered systems, despite the fact that several of these states have some of the best net metering policies in the country. This report aims to provide clarification on how net metering works in these complex environments. December 2010
On significant points such as size of systems eligible for net metering, program capacity caps, and treatment of annual excess generation, there has been broad variation between states. In an effort to capture this variation, IREC’s model rules now include footnotes that discuss the various approaches states have taken on these issues. November 2009
Net metering & interconnection policies are essential pieces of a supportive state-level regulatory policy framework addressing two important aspects of renewable energy development: whether a customer investing in renewable generation can unlock the full value of his or her investment; and how that customer will interconnect his or her generation system to the distribution grid. This guide introduces readers to the issues surrounding policy and technical considerations of grid-integrated, renewable energy development. October 2009
IREC’s annual report, Updates & Trends, released at its Annual Meetings, and Larry Sherwood’s annual U.S. Solar Market Trends reports are included in this category.
Released at Solar Power International 2013, this report offers an expansive collection of updated models, new best practices, and higher-ground training standards, and provides independent insight on the latest issues in the renewable energy and energy efficiency marketplace. In addition to delving into the latest trends, and the next challenges and solutions in play in the most progressive states, the publication shares highlights from nearly 20 major reports published by IREC this year.
Released in Orlando at IREC’s Annual Meeting, the 2012 Annual Updates & Trends Annual Report
describes the dynamic renewable energy environment, including growing and changing markets, increased quality demands by consumers, and the year’s regulatory successes which are integral to expanding residential and commercial use of clean energy across the U.S. The report cites the top 10 most important state policy developments of 2011, and why each made the cut. “This report offers details on how our work is facilitating a healthy marketplace for clean energy, including strengthening workforce readiness for the clean energy economy,” said Jane Weissman, IREC Executive Director. September 2012
IREC’s 2011 Updates & Trends Annual Report
IREC’s 2010 Updates & Trends Annual Report
IREC’s 2009 Updates & Trends Annual Report
In this issue, the capacity of photovoltaic (PV) installations increased by 80 percent in 2012, compared with 2011. And over 50 percent of that capacity was in the utility sector for the first time. “In 2012, more than 90,000 photovoltaic installations were installed in the U.S. with a total capacity of 3.3 GW. This represents a 75 percent increase over installations completed in 2011,” according to Larry Sherwood, IREC vice president & COO and author of IREC’s Solar Market and Installation Trends Report 2013. July 2013
U.S. Solar Market Trends 2011
U.S. Solar Market Trends 2010
U.S. Solar Market Trends 2009
U.S. Solar Market Trends 2008
Solar training and education, along with the Best Practices series from the Solar Instructor Training Network are in this category.
Originally released as a five-part series, Dr. Barbara Martin’s comprehensive work on important teaching practices that can improve the quality of a training course are combined here in one complete report. Whether you’re an educator or a student, you’ll find Good Teaching Matters
useful in your work. December 2010
The Solar Energy Education and Training Best Practices series is a compendium of national best practices for instructors in solar training, education and workforce development. This seven-part series, in web-based and PDF versions, were written by leading experts in the solar industry and education fields. These Best Practices give educators the right tools to develop and implement quality-training programs and prepare students with indispensable skills to enter the solar workforce.
#1: Becoming an Effective Teacher
details teaching and learning strategies that promote effective instruction.
#2: Curriculum and Program Development
explains the curriculum development process, with special attention to DACUM (Developing a Curriculum) methodology and Job Task Analysis (JTA).
#3: Developing a Quality Course
describes, using the instructional systems design (ISD) model and ADDIE Model, how to design and develop a course or workshop.
#4: Solar Content Integration
gives options for integrating solar content into existing education and training programs.
#5: Exemplary Solar Education and Training Programs
offers information on six exemplary solar education and training programs in the U.S.
#6: Textbooks, References and Other Instructional Resources
recommended training suites, textbooks, key references for both PV and solar heating and cooling (SHC) instructors.
#7: Photovoltaic Labs
assists faculty and administrators at colleges, universities, and other technical and training institutions that seek to develop new photovoltaic (PV) laboratories or improve existing ones.
Reports, fact sheets and best practices for solar permitting process reform, along with inspection guidelines, are featured in this category.
Progress is being made in improving the efficiency of the review and approval processes to connect a PV rooftop system to the grid. IREC recognizes that exploring the overlap and synchronization of these different processes, in addition to their individual steps, may be key to continuing advancements in the reduction of soft costs for rooftop solar PV. In this paper IREC examines the steps for obtaining each necessary approval for residential rooftop PV projects in four different markets in the United States to better understand the relationship between the different approval processes and the hitches in each. October 2013.
As more rooftop solar systems are installed across the U.S., municipalities and installers face numerous challenges ensuring quality and efficiency in the permitting and inspection process. To benefit permitting authorities and installers, and ultimately energy consumers who invest in solar, IREC’s first Model Inspection Checklist for Rooftop Photovoltaic (PV) Systems
provides benefits both to municipal staff and solar installers.
This document provides additional context for these Best Practices including who’s doing what where, along with relevant resources to help communities implement them. For more detail on the examples of where the Best Practices listed here have been implemented as well as additional resources, see Sharing Success: Emerging Approaches to Efficient Rooftop Solar Permitting
(below). August 2013
Many municipalities and other authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs) are facing dramatic increases in rooftop solar permit applications. With this trend expected to continue and spread, streamlining building and electrical permitting processes will become increasingly important to more AHJs. To facilitate such streamlining, IREC and Vote Solar have identified nine Best Practices in Residential Solar Permitting, which should result in benefits to both AHJs and solar installers. Underlying these best practices is the goal of increased consistency of solar permitting processes across jurisdictions. When technical and procedural requirements are relatively consistent—regionally, statewide, or even nationally—it can offer significant efficiency benefits for both AHJs and the solar industry. August 2013
Working together, IREC and Vote Solar have developed a set of best practices for the solar permitting process that identify nine benchmarks for an efficient solar permitting process. These best practices can be used as a guide for jurisdictions in identifying aspects of their permitting process that may warrant improvement. July 2013
Providing clear and accurate information to potential applicants upfront can be a simple and efficient way for municipalities to improve the completeness and accuracy of the permit applications they review. Municipalities across the country have begun creating permitting checklists and more comprehensive guidance documents to assist applicants. IREC created this two-page handout to introduce these documents to permitting staff and to provide some tips on how to draft effective versions for your own community. March 2013
From Sky Stanfield, Erica Schroeder and Thad Culley of Keyes, Fox & Wiedman LLP comes this report outlining innovative strategies being implemented across the US to increase the efficiency of permitting procedures for rooftop solar systems. The report aims to serve as both a vehicle for discussion of permitting challenges, and as a source of inspiration for communities looking for realistic and effective ways to improve solar permitting while ensuring safe solar installations. May 2012
Emerging Approaches to Rooftop Permitting (Summary)
Created for ICLEI’s Solar Outreach Initiative, this two-page summary complements the full Sharing Success report. July 2012
According to its author, Bill Brooks of Brooks Engineering
, the intent of the 2010 Guidelines is to consolidate the most important aspects of a field inspection into a simple process that can be performed in as little as 15 minutes. Explanation and illustrative pictures are provided to instruct the inspector on the specific details of each step. The 2010 edition of the Guidelines is an update from the 2006 edition. July 2010