Highlights

  • Created sustainable growth in solar PV markets in the Northeast by informing policy and market development through analysis, education, and collaboration among Northeast Solar Coalition (NSC) member organizations.
  • Identified and engaged critical market policy initiatives, communicated best practices to regional and national audiences, and provided clarity and market certainty for existing and future solar businesses in the region.
  • Elevated the NSC to be the region’s recognized solar market policy analysis and education leader—a credible, coherent, and experienced organization that has been successful in launching, advancing, and contributing to a series of harmonious state-level policy changes critical to increasing the business certainty necessary to achieve solar PV deployment goals.

Background

The NSC is a partnership of state and regional solar organizations representing more than 500 solar businesses in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont. It aims to create sustainable growth across the region’s solar PV markets by informing policy and market development through analysis, education, and collaboration among member organizations. The Pace Energy and Climate Center supports the NSC and works with state and regional solar advocates and business associations, energy industry finance institutions, environmental and sustainability non-governmental organizations, and electric utility providers to identify and engage critical market policy initiatives, communicate best practices to regional and national audiences, and provide clarity and market certainty for existing and future solar businesses in the region.

Establishing the Coalition and its Priorities

The NSC was officially established, with a mission statement and guiding principles, in September 2015 during the first year of the Solar Market Pathways project.

As a first step toward harmonizing regional policy, the team built a database to assess the regional solar policy and market landscape, compile baseline state-level policy data, and build state-by-state comparative tables for the nine northeastern states represented in the coalition. The team used this database to track on-going legislative, regulatory, and other solar market initiatives across the region.

Building on the database, NSC members prioritized the coalition’s policy and market engagement and developed a breakdown of the fundamental solar-related policies for high-functioning solar markets. The NSC also analyzed how each state was addressing those policies. Members used this research to compare policies across the states and to help craft their organizational strategies. This research was compiled into top solar policy fact sheets.

Resources

Report:
Solar Policy Surveys Solar Policy Surveys
Author:  Northeast Solar Coalition

Solar Policy Surveys compiles information for 9 northeast states on state-level policies that significantly influence the solar energy market with regularly updated fact sheets

Tool:
Northeast Solar Coalition Guiding Principles Northeast Solar Coalition Guiding Principles
Author:  Northeast Solar Coalition

The guiding principles and mission statement for the Northeast Solar Coalition.

Outreach and Education

Using the top solar policy fact sheets—along with member knowledge and experiences in their respective states—as a guide, the NSC identified four policy areas requiring particular attention: interconnection, green bank financing, municipal permitting, and solar valuation. These areas were selected based on their relative importance to each state’s solar energy markets and their potential for meaningful regional harmonization.

The NSC team developed outreach and education plans for each of these policy areas. For the topic of financing, the NSC collaborated with the Union of Concerned Scientists to investigate the benefits of expanding clean energy financing in the Northeast. The analysis shows how member states could expand clean energy financing programs to make additional low-interest loans available to homeowners, businesses, and municipalities interested in energy efficiency improvements, solar panel installation, or other clean energy project investments.

The coalition engaged stakeholders participating in interconnection working groups—such as Massachusetts’ Technical Standards Review Group—to evaluate the potential regional applicability of their work. The NSC is taking a critical look at how nine electric utility companies operating in the Northeast address five particular interconnection policy areas and plan to produce a report in 2017.

In the last year of their project, the NSC is focusing on two opportunities to prove that streamlining municipal permitting can benefit municipalities, installers, and end users. A demonstration project is being planned in a Connecticut regional government setting, and state officials in Rhode Island are attempting to pass a statewide permitting mandate.

How to Assess the True Value of Solar and Value of Solar Design Elements were designed to educate coalition members and other stakeholders on how to evaluate net metering offset rates and benchmark direct incentives, as well as to establish key design elements, sample language, and methodology.

Resources

Case study:
Green Banks: Transforming Clean Energy Finance in Maine Green Banks: Transforming Clean Energy Finance in Maine
Author:  Union of Concerned Scientists

This analysis describes how a hypothetical Green Bank in Maine could make additional low-interest loans available for energy efficiency, solar panels, and more.

Case study:
Financing Clean Energy: A Powerful Tool for Driving Investment ... Financing Clean Energy: A Powerful Tool for Driving Investment in Vermont’s Economy
Author:  Union of Concerned Scientists

This analysis describes how a hypothetical Green Bank in Vermont could make additional low-interest loans available for energy efficiency, solar panels, and more.

Case study:
Financing Clean Energy: A Powerful Tool for Driving Investment ... Financing Clean Energy: A Powerful Tool for Driving Investment in New Hampshire’s Economy
Author:  Union of Concerned Scientists

This analysis describes how a hypothetical Green Bank in New Hampshire could make additional low-interest loans available for energy efficiency, solar panels, and more.

Report:
UCS Green Bank Analysis: Quantitative Methodology Descriptio... UCS Green Bank Analysis: Quantitative Methodology Description
Author:  Union of Concerned Scientists

This appendix describes the methodology used to quantify the impacts of hypothetical green banks in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont.

Report:
How to Assess the True Value of Solar How to Assess the True Value of Solar
Author:  Northeast Solar Coalition

This factsheet provides an overview of a Value of Solar Study and key design elements.

Report:
Value of Solar Design Elements Value of Solar Design Elements
Author:  Northeast Solar Coalition

This factsheet includes key value of solar study design elements and applications.

Value of Solar Center of Excellence

The NSC launched the Value of Solar Center of Excellence website, a reference library that provides information about the resource valuation issues. Featured resources include Achieving Very High PV Penetration: The Need for an Effective Electricity Remuneration Framework and a Central Role for Grid Operators and Value of Solar Tariff Pilot Design Elements, an educational document containing key design elements and sample language for legislation and methodology that explains the benefits of the value of solar tariff.

Resources

Report:
Achieving Very High PV Penetration: The Need for an Effective ... Achieving Very High PV Penetration: The Need for an Effective Electricity Remuneration Framework and a Central Role for Grid Operators
Author:  Northeast Solar Coalition

This article proposes that a value-based electricity compensation mechanism could be an effective vehicle to enable high solar penetration and deliver affordable firm power generation.

Report:
Value of Solar Tariff Pilot Design Elements Value of Solar Tariff Pilot Design Elements
Author:  Northeast Solar Coalition

This educational document contains key design elements and sample language for legislation and methodology that explains the benefits of the value of solar tariff.