Proposals for Community Solar Programs in Oregon due Friday, August 7, 2015

Under Section 3 of Oregon’s recently enacted HB 2941, the Oregon Public Utility Commission has opened Docket No. UM 1746 to examine a range of community solar programs that allow individual customers to share in the costs and benefits of solar facilities, focusing on the attributes of different community solar program designs. The Commission is required to submit a recommendation on program design to the legislature by November 1, 2015.

In order to meet the November 1, 2015 deadline, the Commission has created a non-traditional process and accelerated timeline to obtain stakeholder input and finalize the Commission’s recommendation. The Commission has requested that interested parties submit proposals for community solar program designs by this Friday, August 7, 2015, in advance of the first staff workshop scheduled for August 11, 2015. The proposal form was created by Commission staff in an effort to promote efficient dialogue among the parties.  To enable the Commission to examine the “attributes of different community solar program designs” as required by HB 2941, the Commission staff asks that parties submit well-organized and concise responses on the attributes of different community solar programs, including ownership structure, eligibility criteria, length and terms of contracts, subscription pricing and how bills are credited.

The Commission’s process and timeline for the UM 1746 docket is as follows:

  • August 7, 2015:   Proposals due
  • August 11, 2015:   Staff Workshop #1
  • August 15, 2015:   Staff email to follow-up on Workshop #1 and provide direction for written public comment
  • September 1, 2015:   Written Public Comment Due
  • September 11, 2015:   Staff Email to provide materials for Workshop #2, including Staff draft recommendation for program design
  • September 16, 2015:   Staff Workshop #2

Please note that if you are interesting in submitting a proposal, it must be sent by e-mail to PUC.FILINGCENTER@STATE.OR.US by close of business on Friday, August 7th.   The proposal form can be found here: http://edocs.puc.state.or.us/efdocs/HAH/um1746hah1352.pdf.  The UM 1746 docket can be found here: http://apps.puc.state.or.us/edockets/docket.asp?DocketID=19646.

HB 2941 includes other features in addition to the process contemplated by Section 3 and described above.  Changes made in Section 1 of HB 2941 allow the Commission to require an Oregon electric company to include in its portfolio of rate options for residential customers “a rate option for electricity associated with a specific renewable energy resources, including solar photovoltaic energy.”  The Commission can impose this requirement if it finds, through public comment or hearing, or through market research conducted by the electric company, that demand is sufficient to justify the rate.  ORS 757.603.

Section 2 of the new law requires the Commission to evaluate programs identified by the Commission that incentivize the development and use of solar PV systems. It also requires the Commission to make recommendations to the Legislature regarding  the most effective, efficient and equitable approach to incentivizing the development and use of solar PV energy systems, as well as whether each identified program should be discontinued, modified, extended or remain unchanged. The Commission must consider the following when developing its recommendations: the resource value of solar energy, how to minimize confusion and transaction costs for program participants, the cost to non-program participants, and the Commission’s study of the effectiveness of programs prepared pursuant to section 4, chapter 244, Oregon Laws 2013. In addition, the Commission is required to consult with the State Department of Energy during the process. The Commission’s report to the Legislature under Section 2 of HB 2941is due on September 15, 2016.

We will be monitoring the UM 1746 docket and other developments under HB 2941.  Stay tuned for further updates.

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