With 2018 behind us, it’s time to look forward to 2019, and the new opportunities it will bring. With a new year comes new legislative sessions. New legislators will be sworn in, and new legislation will be filed. The next year will be a busy one for our policy team as we work to pass important legislation in many of our target markets, while also defending against any unfavorable or negative legislation that could hinder industry growth.
The last month saw the Illinois Power Agency and the Adjustable Block Program (ABP) Administrator finalizing many important program details including the final lottery process they will use to select projects for the ABP should the program be oversubscribed. We were pleased that the IPA and PA did not provide for project swapping in their final proposal. In our public comments in response to the first and second lottery proposals, Nexamp expressed concern that such swapping would incentivize gaming and speculative behaviors. With project swapping off the table, developers will have to ensure they are submitting real, viable projects into the program lottery.
December also saw the IPA and PA publish the final Adjustable Block Program guidebook. The guidebook contains a lot of useful information that is difficult to find on the ABP’s website and does a good job capturing the most important and most relevant portions of the program. We are still awaiting the final versions of a couple other key pieces of the program but expect them to be wrapped shortly, as the program is scheduled to open on January 31st.
After a long wait, the Solar MAssachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) program opened last month. Pent up demand meant many capacity blocks filled up quickly. In the SMART regulations was a stipulation that once 400MW of capacity was bid into the program, the Department of Energy Resources would conduct a review of program details, including base compensation rates, compensation rate adders, and overall cost impact to ratepayers. With over 2,500 applications submitted in the first week, that review was triggered almost immediately upon launch. Nexamp looks forward to working with our industry colleagues to help the DOER resolve any issues that arise from the program review. We anticipate the DOER will formally launch the 400 MW review in February, and we hope the Department will provide a forum to discuss what comes after SMART.
The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities is expected to vote on final rules for the state’s community solar pilot program by the end of January and are even hoping to open the program early in 2019. While we are excited to see a mature solar market open to community solar, the BPU first has to finalize some very critical details; we look forward to further participating in the public stakeholder process and supporting the industry’s effort to ensure these final details will yield a successful pilot program.
Earlier this month, Governor Cuomo announced his administrator’s plan for a “Green New Deal” as a part of his State of the State address. The Green New Deal is a broad set of policy proposals to decarbonize New York’s grid and increase investment in clean tech jobs, while ensuring the environmental and economic benefits of transitioning to a clean energy economy are shared by disadvantaged communities. Most significant for Nexamp was the Governor’s proposal to double the state’s distributed solar target to 6,000MW by 2025. While the Governor’s plan will need approval from the New York legislature, we congratulate Governor Cuomo on establishing ambitious but obtainable goals for renewable energy.
Pennsylvania is poised to take quick and aggressive action to ramp up its solar market, following the release of a years-long study on the future of solar in PA. The overarching goal of that study was to identify various strategies achieve a 10% in-state solar carve-out for electricity generation, with significant DG build-out (including community solar) receiving strong support in the study. Currently, Pennsylvania is on track to reach one-half of one percent by 2021, absent robust efforts to quickly deploy significant solar installations. With abundant, affordable land, and a state government that understands and appreciates the importance of energy policy. Pennsylvania is primed for a solar boom. Making Pennsylvania even more attractive is a recent effort to get the Pennsylvania Air Quality Board to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. This could further accelerate the need to decarbonize the state’s energy sector. Legislators are drafting community solar legislation to be filed and debated this session, potentially creating an even more attractive opportunity for Nexamp expansion in the Keystone state.