Archive for the ‘State RPS’ Category

Maryland RPS Bill Passes in the Senate

Posted April 7th, 2016 by SRECTrade.

On Wednesday, April 6th, Maryland’s Senate passed SB0921 31-14 with a bipartisan vote. The “Clean Energy Jobs – Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard Revisions” increases the Renewable Portfolio Standard to 25 percent by 2020 – up from the current obligation of 20 percent by 2022. The House version of the bill, HB1106, passed on March 21st. The consolidation of these two bills is anticipated to occur by Monday, April 11th, before advancing to Governor Larry Hogan’s desk.

On a related note, Gov. Hogan signed the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act (SB0323) into law on Monday, April 4th, requiring the state to decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent from 2006 levels by 2030.

District of Columbia RPS Bill under review by D.C. Council Committee

Posted March 23rd, 2016 by SRECTrade.

On March 1st, 2016, D.C. Councilmember Cheh introduced the Renewable Portfolio Standard Expansion Amendment Act of 2016 (B21-0650) for legislative consideration before the Council of the District of Columbia. On this date, the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) bill was referred to the Committee on Transportation and the Environment, where it remains under review to date. As introduced by Councilmember Cheh, this bill would serve to accomplish four goals:

  • Expand the list of Tier 1 renewable energy sources by incorporating (1) waste heat from combined and sanitary sewage systems and (2) effluence from wastewater treatment;
  • Increase the RPS and solar carve-out requirements to 50 percent and 5 percent by the year 2032, respectively;
  • Increase alternative compliance payments (financial penalties) for electricity suppliers who fail to comply with RPS requirements; and
  • Establish a Department of Energy and the Environment program to help low-income homeowners install solar systems on their homes.

Should the bill be enacted, the combination of increasing the overall RPS and solar carve-out requirements and raising the alternative compliance payments (ACPs) will increase market demand for D.C. solar renewable energy credits (SRECs). Increased demand for SRECs will provide price support for SREC values in the District and will encourage additional growth and adoption of solar in the nation’s capital.

For more information on the District of Columbia SREC market, please visit our D.C. market page.

SRECTrade will continue to provide updates on the status of the D.C. RPS bill as it progresses with the Council.

Maryland RPS Bill Passes in the House

Posted March 21st, 2016 by SRECTrade.

On Monday, Maryland’s House of Delegates voted to pass HB1106 with a 92-43 vote. The bill previously known as the Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Act of 2016 was divided into two bills last week, and HB1106 was distilled to focus on the RPS components of the original bill. HB1106, which was retitled to “Clean Energy – Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard Revisions”, schedules an increase to the state’s existing Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), including slight increases to the solar carve-out. The increases to the solar carve-out would result in increased demand for MD SRECs. Now that the bill has passed in the house, it will cross over to the Senate for review by the Senate Finance Committee. If SB0921 comes out of the Senate Finance Committee with a favorable report, it will go to the Senate Floor for a vote.

HB1106 was bifurcated from the jobs appropriation component of the Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Act of 2016 last week. On March 16th, the Maryland Public Utilities Subcommittee of the Economics Matters Committee passed three significant amendments to HB1106 to narrow the bill’s focus to the RPS. Notably, these amendments involved:

  • Dividing the RPS increase and workforce development components of the bill, leaving the Clean Energy Jobs Act as a stand-alone RPS bill. The Cove Point settlement funds, which would finance the workforce development processes, would be parsed into another bill, HB1404. HB1404 aims to provide funding for construction and vocational work through a new “Center for Education and Innovation.”
  • Excluding the Choptank Cooperative from state RPS requirements.  This is an extension of the RPS’s current language and allows Choptank to meet its contractual obligations with Old Dominion Electric Cooperative (ODEC), a power supply co-op in Virginia.
  • Adding sponsors to the new stand-alone RPS bill, in an effort to achieve bipartisan support of the bill.

The isolation of the RPS legislation from the workforce development components of the bill was received favorably in the House, and the bisection may help to secure the bill’s passage through the Senate Finance Committee and on the Senate Floor.

SRECTrade will continue to provide updates on the status of the Maryland RPS as we acquire new information. For more information on the Clean Energy Jobs Act, please view our previous blog post on the topic here.

Clean Power Plan: 2016 & Beyond

Posted March 9th, 2016 by SRECTrade.

On February 9th, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered in a 5-4 decision to issue an unprecedented emergency stay on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan (CPP), as states and other stakeholders continue to present legal challenges before lower courts. The Clean Power Plan calls for a 32% reduction of carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 (from a 2005 baseline), requiring states to present their initial compliance plans to the EPA by 2022.

The implementation of the CPP could encourage the states to consider instituting new–or to improve existing–state Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) to help meet their goals. Today, only twenty-nine states, Washington, D.C., and two territories have adopted an RPS. Seven of these RPS states have a solar carve out, where a specific percentage of renewable energy requirements must be satisfied with solar energy resources. In addition, eight states and two territories have set some form of renewable energy goals. The CPP’s call to action will mandate all 50 states to develop cost-effective plans to combat climate change, improve air quality and create new jobs.

Twenty-nine states, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other entities invested in fossil fuels are challenging the CPP. Many of these CPP opponents argue that the EPA is acting beyond its authority and that, at a minimum, the CPP’s merits must be fully reviewed before imposing federally mandated plans upon the states. CPP opponent Wyoming Governor Matt Mead stated that he is “thrilled” that the EPA’s climate rule was stayed, because the stay may leave the door open for the new administration to evaluate whether there is a “better way to go” than what the CPP would require. However, it is possible that the issue will be brought back to the Supreme Court for a decision before the new president is sworn in on January 20, 2017, leaving time for President Obama to make the Plan law before he leaves the White House.

Litigation in the lower courts is scheduled to begin on June 2, 2016, and a ruling from the Court of Appeals is expected by the end of 2016. Once an appellate decision is made, the case is expected to go back to the Supreme Court. But the sudden passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia adds additional uncertainty and complexity to the future of the CPP, as the late Justice Scalia’s successor may very well shape the future of the Clean Power Plan. A new voice on the Court could result in a vote in favor of the CPP, which could swing the 5-4 decision in favor of lowering carbon dioxide emissions and fostering a sustainable change.

Alas, it remains to be seen if President Obama will successfully appoint a new Justice before the end of his term, potentially leaving the appointment to the next President. And if a new Justice is not appointed before the Court revisits the CPP, there is a chance we could see 4-4 decision from the Court on the issue, which would mean that the Court of Appeal’s ruling would be automatically upheld. As D.C. plays tug-of-war over the Supreme Court vacancy, CPP opponents are working to convince the lower courts that the CPP would spell economic disaster for the nation, while CPP’s proponents assert that the Plan would guide our nation away from coal-fired electricity and forestall millions of metric tons of greenhouse-gas emissions.

The Obama Administration vowed to press forward with the President’s climate policy. If approved, the Clean Power Plan would set a historic precedent on how environmental laws are structured and serve as an example for national and global policies. The CPP was instrumental in influencing heavily polluting nations such as China and India to sign the Paris Agreement at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference.  The Paris Agreement aims to prevent, mitigate and respond to climate change. If the Clean Power Plan is ultimately struck down, the decision would challenge the implementation of national and worldwide environmental policies. Evermore, the selection of our next President and Supreme Court Justice will greatly influence the future of clean energy and shape how environmental issues are prioritized and responded to in the years to come.

Ohio Revisits RPS for Post-freeze Plans

Posted February 21st, 2016 by SRECTrade.

In June 2014, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed a bill that froze Ohio’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) for two years. With the freeze lifting after 2016, Gov. Kasich called upon Ohio’s Energy Mandates Study Committee in 2015 to provide guidance on how to proceed with the state’s RPS. The 12-member legislative committee released its report in September 2015, recommending that the RPS be frozen indefinitely. Now, despite having signed the bill freezing the RPS in 2014, Gov. Kasich has taken the stance that gutting the state’s renewable mandates would be “unacceptable“, positioning himself for a fight with his General Assembly on the state’s clean energy goals.

Enacted in 2008, the Ohio Renewable Portfolio Standard establishes annual benchmarks for renewable energy procurement. The RPS sets the percent of electricity that must be generated from renewable energy resources by 2027. Within the overall RPS, a percentage must be fulfilled with solar resources. This solar carve-out establishes how many SRECs must be purchased by electricity suppliers. The overall RPS and solar carve-out were originally structured to increase annually between 2009 and 2024, but were frozen at 2014 levels through 2016. The RPS is currently frozen at 2.5%, with the solar carve-out at 0.12%. In the 2014 bill, the RPS schedule was revised to resume with a two year delay after the freeze, but it is possible that Gov. Kasich and Ohio’s General Assembly will now move the RPS in another direction.

SB310, the bill enacting the freeze, also removed the in-state RPS requirement and adjusted the Solar Alternative Compliance Payment (SACP) schedule. The freeze and concurrent changes made to the RPS resulted in devaluing OH-eligible SRECs, harming those who invested in solar in reliance on the state’s commitment to clean energy. Since the bill passed in mid-2014, the value of OH SRECs has dropped from $45 to as low as $15.

While Gov. Kasich claims that the original Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard is “unpalatable“, he has vowed that he would return the program back to its original state if the General Assembly refuses to unfreeze the program. But Ohio’s mixed record on renewable energy and the recent developments on the Clean Power Plan make the future of the RPS uncertain. For now, Ohio joins many other states in the tug-of-war battle over renewable energy policies, making 2016 an important year in shaping the states’–and country’s–clean energy future.

 

Clean Energy Jobs Act Introduced to Maryland’s General Assembly

Posted February 10th, 2016 by SRECTrade.

Since its introduction to the public on December 8th, 2015, the Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Act has made its way to the front doors of the Maryland General Assembly, with the recent introduction of the bill into the Senate under SB0921 and the upcoming introduction into the House of Delegates this coming Friday, February 12th. The Act proposes an increase to the state’s existing Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), which would include slight increases to the solar carve-out. The Act schedules a gradual increase in the state’s RPS obligation to satisfy 25 percent of its energy needs with Tier 1 renewable energy sources by 2020 – a significant advancement of the current goal of 20 percent by 2020. The solar carve-out is scheduled to increase incrementally from the current goal of 2.0 percent by 2020 to 2.5 percent by 2025.

Senator Majority Leader Catherine Pugh (D-Baltimore), Delegate Dereck Davis (D-Prince George’s), Senator Brian Feldman (D-Montgomery), and Delegate Bill Frick (D-Montgomery) have championed the concept of the bill since its inception months ago. The bill was first filed in the Senate by Senator Pugh, and was referred to the Finance Committee in its First Reading on February 5th. The bill’s introduction to the House will be this Friday, which will just beat the state’s House Bill Introduction Date, allowing the bill to bypass referral to the House Rules and Executive Nominations Committee.

While we monitor the progress of this bill on the House and Senate floors, we are continuing to project and analyze the impact that its passage could have on the Maryland solar renewable energy credit (SREC) market. Increasing the annual RPS obligation schedule will also increase the demand for SRECs and support prices in the market. In addition, the Act is anticipated to source $40 million from unallocated contributions from the state’s Strategic Energy Investment Fund, create an estimated 2,000 additional clean energy jobs, and help Maryland address climate change with clean energy.

For more information on the early stages of the Clean Energy Jobs Act, please reference our previous post on the topic from December 11th, 2015.

Congress Passes Extension of Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for Solar

Posted December 18th, 2015 by SRECTrade.

Earlier today, Congress passed the FY 2016 Omnibus Appropriations bill, which includes tax extenders and $1.1 trillion in government funding. The spending package includes a pivotal extension of the federal investment tax credit (ITC) for solar energy. The bill is the result of a bicameral and bipartisan compromise, by which Congressional Democrats pursued the extension of this federal subsidy as partial compensation for lifting the ban on US crude oil exports. At first, Democrats believed that the bill would be a loss for the environment, but Democratic leaders urged their party members to recognize the net benefits of extending support for renewable energy development.

“May the force be with you,” quipped Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), encouraging her fellow Senators to vote in favor of the package just hours after the House passed the bill. The bill passed both chambers of Congress by impressive majorities. The House approved by a 316 to 113 vote, and the Senate approved by a 65 to 33 vote.

While existing law provided the 30% solar ITC through the end of 2016, the extension guarantees 30% through 2019, declining to 26% in 2020 and 22% in 2021. After 2021, the 10% credit for Section 48 (commercial) projects will remain in place, per existing law. However, the bill includes “commence-construction” provisions that allow projects to qualify if they come on-line by the end of 2023. These extensions will help states to meet their Renewable Portfolio Standard and other renewable energy goals by helping project owners offset the cost of investing in renewable energy. The federal ITC, coupled with additional incentives, such as Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs), encourages investment in renewable technologies across the country.

The ITC extension will undoubtedly have a significant impact on the solar industry. Experts project that the extension will increase solar installations by 54 percent (compared to a non-extension scenario) and create a 20 GW annual solar market through 2020. The extension is expected to impact utility-scale solar the most, where installations could increase by as much as 73% through 2020. Comparatively, residential installations are expected to experience a 35% growth, and commercial installations are expected to grow by 51%. This anticipated development will spur economic growth and an anticipated incremental investment of $40 billion in the solar industry.

After proposing an extension of the ITC in his 2016 budget earlier this year, the passage of this bill reinforces President Obama’s inaugural commitment to addressing climate change and protecting the planet for future generations. The bill also follows the historic adoption of the Paris Climate Agreement, which was made at COP21 in Paris earlier this month. Although the Agreement still needs to be adopted by the U.S. Government, the President is resolute that the Agreement will survive Republican opposition and become law. In a statement following COP21, President Obama said that “this moment can be a turning point for the world[,]” and this bill is certainly a step in the right direction for America’s commitment to the new international goal.

MA Solar Development Slow Down Likely as Net Metering Caps are Hit

Posted March 22nd, 2015 by SRECTrade.

This blog post is based on the post available at www.solarisworking.org.

In mid-March 2015, the net metering cap for public projects was hit in the National Grid territory (see red box in chart below). The Commonwealth’s legislatively-mandated net metering caps are based on each utility’s historical peak megawatt energy demand. Effective November 4, 2014  net metering caps were set at 4% for “private” projects and 5% for “public” projects of each utility’s historical peak demand, out of line with the state’s 1600 MW solar target. Representing 45% of total net metering capacity in Massachusetts, National Grid also services a region of Massachusetts where it is easier and less expensive for developers to find suitable sites for solar, but Unitil and NGrid-Nantucket are not far behind in hitting the caps in either the private or public sector. The outlier is the NStar (now EverSource) territory, where it is more difficult and more expensive to find suitable sites for solar.

As the caps across the state’s utilities are hit, new solar projects will no longer be eligible to earn retail credit for the excess power returned to the grid. Instead, they will be credited for any excess power at roughly a third of the retail rate. This decreased benefit would render many solar projects financially unviable. Although residential systems 10 kW or less and many commercial systems 25 kW or less are exempt from net metering caps, community shared solar and larger solar projects are not. As a result, development activity for these projects is expected to come to a halt unless the legislature raises the caps. Several bills have been filed this year to address the need to raise net metering caps in order to meet the Commonwealth’s 1600 MW solar target, and the future of the Commonwealth’s solar industry hangs in the balance as the Legislature reviews the bills on its table.

03202015 caps

Source: Massachusetts System of Assurance of Net Metering Eligibility. The data provided below reflects the best available estimate at the time of access of capacity (kW) interconnected, reserved, and pending that is receiving, or eligible to receive, net metering services. The accuracy of this data set is limited as adjustments to outstanding Applications for Cap Allocation may occur at any time. Data and aggregate figures included in this report should be used for informative purposes only. Verified updates provided in the Application Activity and Remaining Capacity Report will continue to be available on a weekly basis, each Wednesday. Posted 3/20/2014.

 

If you want to voice your support to raise the net metering caps, here’s what you can do:

  • Tell Governor Baker to support solar in Massachusetts.
  • E-mail or call your state legislators and ask them to raise net metering caps and to support the continuation of the successful SREC program in Massachusetts.
  • Find out who your elected officials are here.
  • Look up and track legislation here.

 

Visit The Official Website of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs to learn more about net metering.

 

MassSolar Launches “Solar Is Working” Website

Posted March 13th, 2015 by SRECTrade.

On Monday, March 9th, MassSolar proudly announced the launch of their new website, www.SolarIsWorking.org. MassSolar is a collaboration of Massachusetts solar business, solar owners, environmental advocates, community organizations, and motivated citizens dedicated to advancing progressive solar policy Massachusetts. As a versatile resource hub catering to the diverse solar community, MassSolar seeks to achieve modernization and maximization of efforts in the Massachusetts solar sphere while specifically focusing on expansion of the state’s solar economy.

The intuitive site provides its users with a variety of resources useful for installers, residential PV system owners, legislators, and the curious alike.  In addition to market reports and factsheets, the site offers a blog that will host contributions from stakeholders across the Commonwealth’s solar community.  MassSolar intends for the site to serve as a platform for discussions surrounding a home’s solar potential, the Net Metering and Solar Task Force proceedings, as well as legislation impacting the state’s solar industry.

MassSolar’s website also provides fun, yet informative, segments for the less solar savvy such as “10 Things About Solar Energy” and “Solar Stories,” a compilation of anecdotal evidence that highlights the advantages of solar programs in Massachusetts and the efficacy of current statewide programs.  To share your solar story, please send it to info@solarisworking.org.

Massachusetts Solar Carve-out Proposed Rule Changes Released

Posted February 28th, 2013 by SRECTrade.

On 2/27/2013 the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) released proposed changes to the RPS Solar Carve-Out program. The change-tracked version of the proposed rules can be viewed here. Interested parties can submit comments to DOER.SREC@state.ma.us with the word COMMENTS in the subject line from March 1st until 5:00 PM on March 25th. A public hearing will be held on March 22nd in the Gardner Auditorium, Massachusetts State House in Boston from 1:00pm to 3:00pm.

The proposed changes to the rules fall into two general categories: 1) updates to the existing program and 2) changes to smooth the approach to the 400MW program cap. The following is a brief summary of the proposed changes:

  • Change to allow anyone to deposit an SREC in the Clearinghouse Auction, not just the original SREC owner.
  • Clarification that reminted SRECs coming out of a Clearinghouse Auction can’t be submitted to any future auctions.
  • Direction to the DOER to develop an assurance process that will allow proposed systems a spot under the 400MW limit as long as they follow certain steps. This will probably be very similar to the net metering process that was recently enacted.
  • Details were provided on the conditions necessary for a rebuilt system to qualify as new.
  • A change was made to the formula used to determine each year’s SREC requirement, removing the “SACP volume” portion of the formula.  In the original rule, the next years’ standard was adjusted by subtracting SACPs paid in the two years prior. The formula change would be retroactive to 2013, although there is protection for electric distribution companies with existing contracts. It also includes a novel mechanism by the DOER to purchase a like number of SRECs protected under this clause so that there will be no impact on total demand from the sheltering of existing contracts. Click here for a more comprehensive explanation of this formula adjustment. 
  • Some minor changes were made to the calculation used to determine annual SREC requirements after reaching 400MW using the existing base to determine the capacity factor rather than the calculated number used before. Also minor changes on what happens the last year of the program if SRECs are entered into the auction that year.
For more specific details on these changes and their impact on the MA SREC market, feel free to email or call us at SRECTrade.