On Monday, I gave a presentation at the NARUC summer meeting in Sacramento. For energy wonks, it’s kind of like getting invited to the all-star game.
I was invited to speak on the panel “Feed-in Tariffs and other Tariff Designs as the Tools for Ramping Up Renewable Resource Development.” The invite came based on presentations we’ve given and work we have done on the subject before the California Public Utilities Commission, the Arizona Corporation Commission, and the Nevada Public Utilities Commission – bodies that regulate the electric utilities in their respective states.
If you will forgive the self-serving aside, Commissioner Wagner of Nevada introduced the segment by saying “Colleagues, if Vote Solar is not working in your jurisdiction, you should ask them to come. They provided timely and accurate data, analysis and policy expertise, and were instrumental in helping us with our renewable energy agenda.” Or words to that effect. The validation of Jim and Annie’s work last year was much appreciated, especially since NV was one of the very few wins in a brutal year for solar. Let me return the favor by celebrating Commissioner Wagner as a fierce and effective champion for renewable energy and NV ratepayers.
Here’s the presentation (4 MB ppt). It’s much better with the soundtrack, but in short, given the national nature of the audience, the goal was to:
- Make the case that solar deserves consideration as a scalable resource, especially as it is now much cheaper than many believe
- Clarify that there are two markets: retail and wholesale, each with their own benefits from both the customer and regulatory perspective, and therefore each deserving of their own separate policy support
- Identify the series of decisions that have to be made when designing successful wholesale distributed generation markets (ie: small-to-mid size solar energy systems delivering power to utilities for resale)
- Walk through the range of policy solutions to effectively drive solar growth given those considerations
- Briefly discuss the approaches taken by different existing programs across the U.S., and the lessons that should be drawn from the results
This discussion is especially pertinent given the recent FERC decision, which defined the federal vs state jurisdiction over price-setting in Feed-in Tariff type incentive programs. California and Arizona are pioneering approaches to successful wholesale distributed generation that meet key criteria for sustainable solar market growth:
- Legal (ie: jursidictionally compliant with the Federal Power act – see FERC decision above)
- Scalable (ie: are achievable at politically palatable price points)
- Provide the flexibility and responsiveness to expand the market as price reduces
- Build strong installer capacity by providing continual market opportunity and avoiding boom-bust cycles
There is a lot more work to be done, but these initial efforts in are on track to bring gigawatts of wholsale distributed solar generation online as we speak.
We’ll put together a webinar on this shortly.