In an email sent to interested stakeholders on August 14, 2015, the Staff of the Oregon Public Utility Commission (the “Commission”) provided further guidance on the public comments due in Docket No. UM 1746 on September 1, 2015, and released a revised docket schedule. As we reported in our August 6, 2015, blog post, the Commission opened UM 1746 to examine a range of possible community solar programs and requested that stakeholders submit proposals for community solar designs by August 7, 2015. Seven stakeholders filed proposals or comments, including Oregon’s investor-owned utilities; Citizens’ Utility Board of Oregon; joint nongovernmental organizations (NWSEED, Oregon SEIA, RNW, Portland Bureau of Planning & Sustainability, Oregonians for Renewable Energy Process, and NWEC); Northwest & Intermountain Power Producers Coalition; Oregon Department of Energy; and Vote Solar. Some of the proposals described specific community solar designs, while others proposed a preferred set of community solar attributes.
Recently, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed into law House Bill 57, known as the Solar Power Free-Market Financing Act of 2015 (the Solar Power Act). The Solar Power Act, which both houses of the state’s General Assembly passed unanimously, allows homes and businesses to install solar technology under third party ownership (TPO). Although it sailed through the General Assembly, the Solar Power Act is the product of detailed negotiations and compromise between lawmakers, electric service providers, and consumers. The introduction of TPO through the Solar Power Act is expected to provide a significant boost to the residential and commercial solar markets in Georgia. Read More
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. Read More
Declining prices for solar equipment and generous government incentives have broadened the appeal of community solar gardens. Community solar gardens, which are arrangements in which multiple users invest in and benefit from a solar array, provide a simple and cost-effective means for power consumers to acquire clean energy without having to bear the entire cost of purchasing or leasing a solar array. According to GTM Research, the community solar market is forecasted to grow fivefold in 2015.
For a variety of reasons, most energy consumers cannot own or lease a solar array—for example, they may not control the rights to their roof or their roof may be physically unsuitable. Community solar gardens offer these consumers the opportunity to invest in an offsite, local solar array in exchange for reductions in their energy bills. This new model expands consumer access to solar energy while also conferring a host of ancillary benefits.
This alert outlines the foundation of community solar gardens and describes their main legal considerations. While this alert cannot describe all the legal issues of community solar gardens nationwide, it covers common federal and state law issues that individuals involved with community solar gardens should anticipate.
Two bills with significant renewable energy provisions were among those that survived the North Carolina General Assembly’s self-imposed “crossover” deadline of April 30, 2015. Most substantive bills must pass at least one house of the legislature before the crossover deadline in order to remain eligible for consideration in the 2015-16 legislative biennium. However, some bills and portions of bills that do not make crossover can still be included in the budget or as amendments to bills that did beat the deadline.
The two energy bills that made it through crossover provide for (i) a very limited extension of North Carolina’s renewable energy tax credit, and (ii) a reduction of the only mandatory renewable energy portfolio standard in the southeast. The bill providing for a limited extension of the state renewable energy tax credit was signed into law by Governor Pat McCrory and went into effect immediately. The portfolio standard reduction has passed the House and is being debated in the Senate as of this writing. Both bills are described in this alert.
To read the full alert, click here.
SGI-Mitabu, a joint venture of two Australian solar companies, The Solar Guys International and Mitabu Australia, has revived its plans to fund its Indonesian 250 megawatt solar project with Islamic compliant funding. The solar project will require up to A$550 million of financing. Commencing in July 2015, the first phase of the project will be funded through an offer of A$150 million of sukuk (a type of Islamic investment instrument, similar to a bond).
Read more here.
South Carolina’s major utilities recently submitted their proposed distributed energy resource programs to the South Carolina Public Service Commission (PSC) for approval. The proposals come in the wake of the South Carolina Distributed Energy Resource Act of 2014 (commonly referred to as Act 236), which went into effect on June 2, 2014. Applauded as landmark legislation resulting from collaboration among utilities, electric cooperatives, environmental advocates, and solar businesses, Act 236 paves the way for the development of solar power and other renewable energy sources in South Carolina. Read more here.
On Thursday, September 18, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) led a group of 18 House Democrats in introducing the Bridge to a Clean Energy Future Act of 2014 (H.R. 5559). The bill would extend several energy tax incentives—many of which Congress allowed to expire at the end of 2013—through the end of 2015. The bill would also extend the production tax credit (PTC), as well as the election to receive an investment tax credit (ITC) in lieu of the PTC, for facilities producing energy from renewable resources through the end of 2016. Read More
The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (WUTC) has issued an interpretive policy statement clarifying its jurisdiction to regulate third-party owners of solar panels and other net metering systems as “Public Service Companies.” Docket No. UE-112133 (July 30, 2014) (statement). While the WUTC’s policy statement provides useful guidance on the agency’s current position and the action it will likely take in the future, the statement is not binding on the agency. Read More
On June 3, 2014, the U.S. Department of Commerce (the “Department”) announced that certain crystalline silicon photovoltaic (“CSPV”) products from the People’s Republic of China (“China”) had been produced by taking advantage of subsidies, and that such products could be subjected to countervailing duties when imported into the United States. Upon publication of the preliminary determination in the Federal Register on Tuesday, June 10, 2014, U.S. importers of such products will be required to make cash deposits of estimated countervailing duties at the time the products enter the United States.