The Solar Policy Scoop: February 2024

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Fair Access to Community Solar Act filed in Washington state
Olympia, Washington

The Fair Access to Community Solar Act, introduced in both the Senate and House, establishes a community solar bill crediting program to ensure subscribers earn a proportionate credit on their monthly utility bill. It was later reported that the bill was held in the House Energy & Environment Committee and is likely to not receive a vote this year.

Idaho has shifted to a net-billing system instead of net-metering-based compensation. Credit: EGT Solar

Idaho ends net metering, shifts instead to net-billing system for solar compensation
Boise, Idaho

The Idaho Public Utilities Commission approved a shift to a net-billing system instead of compensation based on a kilowatt-hour-for-kilowatt-hour basis for solar system owners. The vote came after years of public, expert and environmental community pushback and is an approval of Idaho Power’s own internally determined rate calculation. The Sierra Club estimates that the new compensation rate will be 5.96¢/kWh (down from the already low 8.8¢/kWh).

Legislation in New Jersey expands community solar program to benefit more LMI residents
Trenton, New Jersey

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill to strengthen the state’s community solar program, increasing its overall size and expanding access by meaningfully eliminating barriers for low- and moderate- income (LMI) residents’ participation. The legislation streamlines eligibility verification, allows municipalities to facilitate access for LMI subscribers and updates the community solar program’s size within the state.

Old government document updated to allow more solar in Western US
American West

The Dept. of the Interior recently released an updated roadmap for solar development across the West that should expand solar energy production in more Western states. The Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS), a document that was last updated in 2012, opens 22 million acres of federal land for responsible solar development.

Connecticut increases incentives available to residents installing battery storage
Hartford, Connecticut

The Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) recently announced updates to its Energy Storage Solutions program to increase accessibility and adoption by residential customers in the state. Residential customers can now receive up to $16,000 in upfront incentives, an increase from the previous maximum incentive of $7,500. For customers that qualify as low-income, the upfront incentive increased to $600 per kWh from $400/kWh. For customers that reside in an underserved community, the upfront incentive increased to $300/kWh from $450/kWh.

New Mexico’s solar tax credit fund for 2023 is close to empty
Santa Fe, New Mexico

New Mexico residents who installed solar energy systems in their homes in 2023 have received more than $10 million worth of tax credit certificates (as of Jan. 24, 2024). By state law, the agency is authorized to issue no more than $12 million in tax credits for the 2023 tax year.

Nebraska legislature introduces bill to prohibit HOAs from denying solar
Lincoln, Nebraska

The Nebraska Judiciary Committee recently heard testimony on a proposal that would prohibit homeowners associations (HOAs) from restricting the installation of solar panels. LB1119 would prohibit HOAs from restricting the installation and use of solar panels in any covenant, declaration, bylaw, deed contract or other agreement. Under the bill, any regulations prohibiting solar installations would be deemed void, and homeowners would have a civil cause of action if a violation occurred.

Four US Senators ask Biden to increase Sec. 301 tariffs on Chinese solar imports
Washington, D.C.

U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Jon Ossoff (D-GA), Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rev. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) penned a letter to President Joe Biden asking for increased tariffs on Chinese-made solar wafer, cell and module imports under Sec. 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. The Senators argue China’s heavily subsidized products are hurting U.S. efforts to reshore domestic solar manufacturing.

FEMA includes solar microgrids in net-zero disaster response program
Washington, D.C.

FEMA will fund net-zero energy projects, including solar, through its Public Assistance grant program, which covers rebuilding schools, hospitals, fire stations and other community infrastructure investments post-disasters. FEMA is also funding net-zero energy projects and now offers incentives through additional grant programs to encourage more communities to use net-zero projects that increase community resilience.



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