Summer Update from Vote Solar

Installing rooftop solar panels

We are hard at work.

The sun has been working hard this summer, and so have we. Here are some recent updates from the field …

Putting the Sun in the Sunshine State

Did you know that Florida ranks third in rooftop solar potential but only 14th in overall installed capacity? On August 30th, Florida voters will have the opportunity to nudge Florida closer to the front of the solar pack with Amendment 4. The ballot measure would remove onerous tax penalties for solar development, which is why it has the backing of just about every constituent group you can imagine: local and national businesses, conservation groups, clean energy advocates and leaders from across the political spectrum. Want to help? Send your Florida friends and family more information on Amendment 4, and we’ll be sure to keep them posted on how we’re working to put the sun in the Sunshine State.

How do you like them peaches?

We have sunny news from Florida’s neighbor to the north: Last week, the Georgia PSC voted on a number of measures to bolster the Peach State’s solar commitments. While they failed to pass a measure to expand rooftop solar benefits championed by Commissioner Lauren “Bubba” McDonald, the PSC did approve a community solar pilot program that could set the stage for increasing solar access in Georgia, and it also doubled down on expanding utility scale solar.

Defending rooftop solar around the country

A big part of our work these days is defending your ability to go solar.  In fact, we have three teammates who do expert testimony on rate case interventions and net metering defense, full time. Some recent highlights:

We’re committed to bringing back solar in Nevada, where a regulatory decision late last year devastated Nevada’s rooftop solar options. We’ve teamed up with our legal partners Earthjustice to work all the angles. We’ve filed a judicial appeal of the decision that caused all the trouble; we’ve intervened on two PUCN regulatory dockets (Sierra Pacific general rate case and NV Energy IRP); and we’re also proudly serving on the Governor’s New Energy Industry Task Force, where we’re working to advance policies that will protect and expand solar access in the state. In this later role, we’re pleased to report that Governor Sandoval’s official legislative agenda now includes net metering grandfathering for existing solar customers. That’s a big deal! We’re investing a ton of resources, and are going to fight this one all the way through to a final win. Bet on it.

Meanwhile there’s some hope shining for customers in Arizona, where solar is under all-out attack: all 3 major utilities in Arizona have now filed rate cases that would devastate rooftop solar’s economics by adding demand charges and getting rid of net metering.  We’ve intervened in every one of them, and we’re happy to report sunny news from one of them: an Administrative Law Judge for the Arizona regulators released a recommended order in the UNSE rate case that rejects the utility’s proposal for harmful demand charges and preserve full retail net metering credit.

The judge’s recommendation is a big deal, as she presided over all the testimony, and in the end, came out with a judicious proposal that agreed with our arguments and preserved solar options for residents of Southern Arizona.  We now expect the Commission to vote on the issue next week.

If you want to get a taste of the work this entails and our arguments for why demand charges are really terrible, read our recent report on demand charges, and for the dedicated wonks, here’s Briana’s testimony for Tucson Electric’s proposal.

Dozens of states are wrestling with net metering, so we’re happy to point to New York as a particularly strong example of what ‘good’ process looks like in this brave new energy world. We’re engaged in the Empire State’s major initiative to fundamentally rethink the energy sector through Reforming the Energy Vision (REV). Our initial proposal with SEIA was built on a set of principles that uphold fairness and simplicity in net metering, and we’re well underway in this process working to build consensus with stakeholders and the commission to see that vision through.

Putting PURPA’s purpose in play

Finally, we’re taking on a new area of work: we’re defending the Public Utility Regulatory Policy Act (PURPA) with our partners at Earthjustice–first case, in Montana. PURPA is a 1978 federal law that requires utilities to buy renewables if they are cheaper than conventional alternatives – and now that it is actually working, utilities are trying to move the goalposts.  At stake are gigawatts of clean energy around the country, in places that can use a little sunshine.

If you’ve made it this far, you know by now that our mission is to make solar a mainstream energy resource all across the U.S. Thanks for all you do to help us achieve that.

Team Vote Solar

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