In 2017, there were a record number of solar policies debated in state legislatures and commissions, with nearly every state considering some kind of solar policy or rate change. Recently, the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) released its 50 States of Solar report which reviews solar policies and initiatives across the nation. In its report NCCETC found that there were 249 state actions on solar policies in 2017: 34% were related to residential fixed charges and minimum bill increases, 27% were distributed generation (DG) compensation policies, and 12% were community solar policies. The actions took place in 45 States plus the District of Columbia. That is up by 17% from 212 actions in 2016 and 42% from the 175 actions in 2015. According to the report, last year the ten most active “solar” states were: Nevada, North Carolina, New York, Hawaii, Maine, Arizona, New Hampshire, Virginia, Michigan, and Utah.
In 2017 Nevada’s Public Utility Commission issued a decision to restore retail net metering for a limited amount of capacity in Sierra Pacific Power’s territory. The state legislature then passed a bill restoring retail rate net metering across the state. 2017 was also a busy year for North Carolina lawmakers, with H.B. 589 signed into law in July the state implemented significant changes to the state’s solar policies.
The report also identified the top solar policy trends of 2017. It found that many states are converging towards net billing as opposed to net metering to allow behind-the-meter consumption but credit exported energy at a rate other than retail. States are taking diverse approaches towards credit rates for excess generation, as many have been using avoided costs and value-based crediting. Several more states ordered cost-benefit studies on net metering, solar-plus-storage projects, time-varying rates for distributed solar customers, and other topics to aid in future decision-making processes. Actions on state community solar policies also increased in 2017, with 21 States making a total of 30 community solar actions. For more information on state-level solar policy actions, see the report here.