IREC’s Updated Catalog Helps States Navigate Models for Shared Renewable Energy

By Sara Baldwin Auck
Director of IREC’s Regulatory Program

solar-cityThe national landscape for state shared renewable energy programs is growing quickly. That’s great news from where we sit, after creating the first model rules for shared renewables in 2009 (updated in 2013), and working with multiple states and stakeholders to encourage best practices. Today, more states around the country are exploring ways to meaningfully expand renewable energy access to more consumers.

As more people and businesses seek to benefit from renewable energy, there is a ripe opportunity to scale replicable shared renewable energy program models. Indeed, scaling successful programs will help reduce costs and improve efficiencies, which will benefit all consumers. Among state policymakers, there is a growing recognition that establishing strong rules for shared renewables is key to creating robust markets.

The pace of uptake of new shared renewables programs and policies makes it a challenge at times to keep up with details of the various state programs, the nuanced design components of which can take time to track down and decipher. In response, IREC has modified our long-standing shared renewable program catalog (State Shared Renewable Energy Program Catalog), to provide an updated and useful tool for policy makers and all stakeholders seeking to better understand and compare existing state programs.

IREC frequently gets questions about what states are doing and how they are handling different elements of shared renewables models. While the concept of “shared renewables” or “community renewables” is growing in popularity, the reality is that states with active programs are distinct on many levels; core program design components and terminology are applied differently across the U.S. IREC’s catalog provides a detailed overview and breakdown of the numerous design components. By categorizing according to core elements and comparing programs side-by-side, it allows policy makers and diverse stakeholders to more easily and swiftly compare and contrast different programs. The catalog is accompanied by important definitions and overview documents that provide more insight and detail to help users better understand the content. And it is based on the program design components featured and discussed in greater detail in the IREC Model Rules for Shared Renewable Energy Programs.

The catalog covers statewide “shared renewable energy” or “shared renewables” programs, which IREC defines as programs that enable multiple customers to share the economic benefits of one renewable energy system via their individual utility bills (typically through bill credits). The catalog does not include other “community” renewables programs, such as green tariff shared renewables, group purchasing or aggregate net metering programs, and it does not capture voluntary, utility-level programs.

The catalog is one of several new tools that IREC plans to unveil in 2017. We’re putting the final touches on updated Guiding Principles for Shared Renewables and developing a unique national SCORECARD, which will evaluate state renewable energy programs and provide a user-friendly tool to help assess programs.

Download our companion overview and definitions documents to the State Shared Renewable Program. All of IREC’s publications and resources are available free of charge.

Consider these our gifts this holiday season – offered with the very best wishes for a happy, healthy and peaceful new year.

Image: Solar City