Viohl & Associates

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Energy Update, April 15

In the States

The NC Clean Energy Technology Center released its 2015 annual review of state regulatory and legislative deliberations on solar energy policy, including net metering, business and residential community solar projects, charges and fees, third-party ownership, and rooftop programs. According to the report, 27 states considered or enacted changes to their net metering policies while 24 states debated the value of distributed generation. The report also found that 61 utility companies in 30 states proposed increased monthly fixed charges on residential customers at a median rate of $5 per month and that another 21 utilities in 13 states proposed adding new or increasing charges for rooftop solar customers. The report only found three states – North Dakota, Wyoming, and Mississippi – that did not discuss or focus on solar energy policy in 2015. Ben Inskeep, an energy policy analyst with the NC Clean Energy Technology Center, said ““If we want to continue to increase the amount of electricity we generate from clean energy and keep these good jobs in our communities, then it is paramount that solar policies fairly treat – not penalize – folks who go solar.” 46 US states took action on solar though policies and rates in 2015CleanTechnica

CO – Governor John Hickenlooper asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to reconsider its decision to halt the construction of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) pipeline. The Governor believes the pipeline, known as the Jordan Cove and Pacific Connector Pipeline Project, would give Colorado access to West Coast and international markets interested in LNG through the Coos Bay, Oregon LNG export terminal. FERC, in its decision issued last month, said the project had not “demonstrated interest from purchasers” even though Veresen, the company interested in the project, said it has “preliminary agreements for at least half of its planned initial capacity.” Governor Hickenlooper said “it is important for shippers and domestic natural gas producers to continue to access markets for natural gas, including the Asian Pacific countries which comprise the fastest growing LNG market in the world.” Guv exhorts feds to revisit Jordan CoveThe Daily Sentinel

HI –Hawaii recently decided to terminate its solar energy net metering incentive program, after receiving a request from the state’s utility, the Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO). In response to the state’s decision, ten of the 16 solar energy companies with business in Hawaii, have laid off workers or reduced employee hours. According to the Hawaii Solar Energy Association, who finds that its members employ close to 3,000 people in Hawaii, ending net metering “has caused a decrease in the number of homeowners getting rooftop solar systems.” After closing down its program, the state created two incentive programs, one of which does not allow customers to send their excess energy to the state’s grid while the other increases fees and decreases credits for customers that do send their excess energy to the grid. End of Hawaii’s solar credit program spells trouble for industryGoverning

MA – Governor Charlie Baker signed into law a bill to support the continued development of commercial and residential solar energy projects across the commonwealth. The legislation raises the public and private net metering caps by 3 percentage points and decreases the value of the power credits sold by many solar-producing residents by around 40%. The bill also instructs the Department of Public Utilities to “gradually transition the solar industry to a more self-sustaining model” while convening stakeholders to discuss updating the commonwealth’s solar incentive program. “This legislation builds upon the continued success of the Commonwealth’s solar industry and ensures a viable, sustainable and affordable solar market at a lower cost to ratepayers,” Governor Baker said. “As our administration continues its balanced approach to diversifying Massachusetts’ energy portfolio, solar development will be an integral component of our state’s clean energy future.” Governor Baker signs comprehensive solar legislation into lawThe Bay State Banner

RI – Governor Gina Raimondo recently released the state’s 2016 Clean Energy Jobs Report, which found that that clean energy jobs in Rhode Island have increased by 40% over the last 12 months. The clean energy industry, according to the report, now accounts for more than 14,000 jobs across the state. The report also found that wind energy supports nearly 500 jobs while energy efficiency employment represents approximately 3,000 jobs in Rhode Island. Additionally, 75% of the state’s clean energy companies now serve in-state customers, an increase of nearly 10% over 2014 estimates, while renewable and energy efficient cooling and hearting companies increased their workforce by 900 jobs. “We've made extraordinary strides in promoting renewable energy, from expanding our solar industry to construction of the nation's first offshore wind farm,” said Governor Raimondo. “Rhode Island is leading the way, and I look forward to continuing to work with our partners to keep the momentum going.” RI’s green energy jobs touted at East Providence solar plantEast Providence Patch

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