On March 10, the Consumer Liaison Group (CLG) met in Cromwell, Connecticut to discuss Solar Development in New England: Consumer Protection, Costs and Benefits, and What Does it Mean for the Wholesale Market? Elin Swanson Katz, the Consumer Counsel for Connecticut, delivered the keynote address. With more than 10,000 solar installations across the state, Katz showcased the success of solar programs and policies in Connecticut. She encouraged the state to take a detailed look at the incentives driving solar development with an eye towards reducing costs now that the solar industry has matured. She laid out six principles to consider moving forward:
- Support robust solar development with reasonable and declining incentives
- Do not undermine investments made in response to state policies by making major changes
- Ensure equitable sharing of the benefits and burdens of solar policy
- Ensure rooftop solar is being fairly marketed with regard to costs and potential benefits
- Ensure solar is accounted for in regional planning
- Maintain a balance to avoid premature retirements of fossil and nuclear capacity
Joseph Rosenthal, Principal Attorney for the Connecticut Office of Consumer Counsel, moderated a panel of energy industry and ISO representatives, including:
- Camilo Serna, Vice President of Strategic Planning & Policy for Eversource Energy, focused his remarks on the work Eversource is doing to integrate distributed energy resources (DER), particularly solar PV resources. He said that Eversource processed a record number of solar interconnection applications last year (88% more than the prior year) and that Eversource believes dynamic DER integration is a fundamental component of the modern electric distribution system.
- Dan Hendrick, Director of External Affairs for NRG Energy, reviewed the different net-metering programs in place in New England. He highlighted some of the changes being considered by the New England states. For instance, the Maine legislature is considering a bill that would replace net metering with a market-based program through which new customers would receive a 20-year contract at a set price for net exports from solar PV systems.
- Mackey Dykes, Vice President of Commercial & Industrial Programs for the Connecticut Green Bank, reviewed the programs in place in Connecticut promoting solar PV development, including the Solar Home Renewable Energy Credit (SHREC) program, the Zero Emission Renewable Energy Credit (ZREC) program, net metering, and the state’s shared clean energy pilot program. He also discussed efforts by the Connecticut Green Bank to inform and protect consumers about the economics of solar.
- Carissa Sedlacek, Director of Resource Adequacy, System Planning, for ISO New England, discussed the growth of solar in New England and the ISO’s efforts to forecast long-term incremental solar PV growth in the region. She also explained how the ISO incorporated behind-the-meter solar into the Installed Capacity Requirement (ICR) calculation for the tenth Forward Capacity Auction (FCA #10), resulting in a 390 MW reduction in the ICR.
- Paul Peterson, Principal Associate for Synapse Energy Economics, Inc., discussed the impacts of solar PV on the region’s load profile with varying levels of solar penetration. He noted that annual growth rates in peak demand have been declining over the years, which means system planners have substantially more time to plan for and build transmission solutions.
The meeting concluded with an update from Anne George, Vice President of External Affairs & Corporate Communications for ISO New England. George discussed the results of FCA #10, the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on demand response, and wholesale electricity costs for 2015.
All of the presentations from this meeting can be found on the ISO’s Consumer Liaison Group webpage.