Moratzka & Bergan: Prospects for Community Solar in 2017


Attorneys Drew Moratzka and Sara Bergan authored an article for Solar Industry Magazine titled “What’s Ahead For Community Solar In 2017?” The authors discuss the prospects for community solar in the coming year—they say that while 2016 mostly saw the development of rules governing solar installations, 2017 is poised to be the year of “the largest leap forward yet in community solar installations across the U.S.” 

Moratzka and Bergan examine several aspects of community solar of interest in 2017 with respect to existing programs in Minnesota, New York and elsewhere, including volume, rates, interconnection, players and access.

In Minnesota, Xcel Energy estimates it has roughly 860 MW of applications for community solar projects outstanding and anticipates some 60 MW of the projects already under construction potentially to be interconnected to its distribution system by the end of 2017. In the state, a different method of calculating rates will go into effect in 2017, and subscribers should see a slight initial reduction in rates that afterwards will be annually adjusted for inflation. 

The authors point out that the success of community solar programs will depend on the extent to which they truly open up access to solar, including to low-income subscribers. Several states have required or are looking into setting aside portions of their programs to serve such subscribers. 

They conclude: “As the substantial pipeline of community solar projects begins to turn into operating projects in 2017, we will gain much clearer insight into what models work best to ensure broad participation and what more can be done to fulfill community solar’s promise to open up solar access to all.” 

For further information, please also see Stoel Rives Insight Special Report “The Era of Community Solar.”

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