Policy in the US solar industry, and how it differs by state
The solar industry is highly regulated. The policy that governs renewable energy generation at the federal, state, and utility levels is forever changing and adapting. Incorporating solar policy is a complex process. Many utilities, states, and municipalities adopt policies as a catalyst to create programs that provide various incentives to increase solar energy deployment.
Now may not come as a surprise to you, but the states with a good solar policy are also the ones that are leading in solar deployments, like New Jersey.
Now let’s jump into some specifics and the types of solar policy and energy programs out there that are setting the stage for solar growth.
Renewable portfolio standard (RPS)
A renewable portfolio standard (RPS) is a regulatory mandate to increase the production of energy from renewable sources such as wind, solar, biomass, and other alternatives to fossil and nuclear electric generation. Another term for this is “renewable electricity standard.”
Many states have RPS standards requiring a particular amount of renewable energy generation on the grid, whether biomass, wind, solar or practically anything that’s carbon-free.
These regulations might vary substantially between states; for example, Washington State established a goal of 15% renewables last year, but Colorado has boosted that to 30%. Why, it has one of the most stringent RPS requirements in the country. Globally, the goal is to reach 100 percent renewable energy by 2045.
This is one of the most common pieces of state legislation and utility rules out there that dictate how businesses like you can become safe for the energy that comes from your system.
It’s comparable to a “solar bank,” in which you may swap kilowatt hours for kilowatt-hours. In areas where net metering is available, building owners with rooftop systems will first and foremost use the kilowatts generated by the system on-site. And any additional power generated by the system during daytime or summer is sent to the grid, where it is compensated for kilowatt-hours at retail rates.
And at nighttime when they need energy, they can pull from that solar bank of credits. At the end of the month, the business owner’s utility bill will be the number of kilowatt-hours used by the utility, minus the kilowatt-hours produced by the system, and a customer’s goal is to be net-zero, which is totally possible
(Amount of kWh used from the utility) – (kWh produced by their system) = (Goal net Zero)
Green roof policy
The goal of the green roof policy is to maximize the communal advantages of green roofs. Collective benefits are those which benefit the public at large, such as reduced stormwater runoff, climate moderation, and thermal cooling.
In 2017 San Francisco became the first city in the US to mandate this as a policy with either including solar or living roofs on new construction. This concept has spread across many cities across the country. It is being deployed in major cities across the United States.
Utility-created procurement programs
This policy is where utilities create programs to procure energy from renewable sources. These types are often optimizing programs that ratepayers can access through their utility. And they often come at a premium. You pay an extra few cents per kilowatt-hour to ensure that your utility is buying green power per renewable source. The benefit of these programs is that they are easy to sign up for anyone. Furthermore, as more individuals engage, the grid receives more renewable energy.
However, there is no real financial benefit to the customer and in fact, you are paying more for that energy. So, ask yourself. Would you rather pay extra to your utility or if you had to become your own power producer, save money, and the planet?
If your state does not provide solar incentives to businesses, you will miss out on a valuable investment. So, get involved to influence a beneficial solar policy in your state. The solar energy industry association (SEIA) advocates for solar legislation on a national level. There are frequently local chapters as well. This may assist you in navigating specific local utilities. As a result, create initiatives to help businesses reap the benefits of solar adoption.