New York utilities, SolarCity propose landmark partnership

New York solar power

New York just keeps bringing the solar news, with most of it centered on collaboration. Six New York investor-owned utilities have joined SolarCity Corp. and other solar companies in the creation of the Solar Progress Partnership. The group yesterday filed a joint proposal with the New York Public Service Commission for the long-term growth of distributed solar and other distributed resources to benefit New York ratepayers.

Here is how the proposal approaches the often controversial issue of rates:

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At its core, the Partnership’s proposal provides simplicity for customers, recognizes the locational value of clean DER, and attempts to resolve potential bill impacts, particularly to customers who are not participating in NEM (“Non-Participating Customers”). In addition, the proposal incorporates and balances many of the Commission’s objectives under the Reforming the Energy Vision (“REV”) proceeding: enhancing customer knowledge and engagement, market animation and leverage of customer contributions, system-wide efficiency, fuel and resource diversity, system reliability and resiliency, and the reduction of carbon emissions. Simply stated, the Partnership proposes that On-Site NEM would continue as is until a transition approach is initiated, as determined by the Commission. Community Distributed Generation (“CDG”) and Subscribers would continue to receive NEM credits at the full retail rate, while the Hosts (or “Developers”) of such resources would begin to submit a payment (“Developer Payment”) to utilities. Each CDG project would be assigned to a “Tranche” that would establish a compensation rate and associated Developer Payments. Each successive Tranche would incorporate higher Developer Payments, gradually moving the total resource compensation rate to LMP+D+E, as described below. Grandfathered Monetary Crediting Remote Net Metering (“GRMN”) projects and Satellites would be subject to a similar interim compensation structure described more fully in these comments.

You can read the full proposal here.

The Solar Progress Partnership came together in recognition of the value of collaboration to better enact future grid policies. The partnership includes Advanced Energy Economy as well as all New York investor-owned utilities: Con Edison, Orange & Rockland, Central Hudson, National Grid, Rochester Gas & Electric and New York State Electric & Gas (the latter two participating as Avangrid).

“We’re working together to keep our state’s solar industry vibrant while enabling us to maintain the robust power grid that solar energy requires, and in a way that is fair to all customers,” said John McAvoy, the chairman and CEO of Con Edison. “Utilities and solar companies have found common ground to enhance our environment, the economy and electric reliability.”

“The deep institutional knowledge of these six utilities, and the creative approach they are taking to the evolution of electricity, is inspiring,” said SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive. “Leaders like these will lay the foundation for the grid of the future.”

The Partnership’s initial proposal includes alignment on community and residential solar policy. It recognizes the value of distributed resources on the grid and builds on the New York Public Service Commission’s white paper on the future development of distributed resources.

The Partnership also demonstrates SolarCity’s openness and desire to work with utilities in other states to develop forward-looking policies that benefit ratepayers and support a more efficient and affordable grid.

The Solar Progress Partnership was enabled and inspired by the success of New York’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) strategy, which encourages collaboration and innovative industry solutions.