• SolarCity, SunEdison, and SunPower along with six utilities based in New York form Solar Progress Partnership
  • The aim of the partnership is to promote the growth of distributed solar in the state and ensure adequate funding for a reliable and resilient grid
  • In a proposal submitted to the NYPSU, the partnership proposed that solar developers will pay for community and remote solar projects
  • The developers will have greater certainty to connect consumers to their projects, while utilities will get enough resources to maintain the grid

Leading US solar power companies have come together with six utilities in the US state of New York to work on issues on the value of solar and find ways for the long term growth of distributed solar and other distributed resources for the state. The Solar Progress Partnership was announced on April 19, 2016.

The partners include SolarCity Corporation, SunEdison, Inc., SunPower, Inc., ConEdison, Orange & Rockland, Central Hudson, National Grid, Rochester Gas & Electric and New York State Electric & Gas (the latter two participating as Avangrid), among others.

The partnership on April 18, 2016 filed a joint proposal with the New York Public Service Commission (NYPSU) regarding the latter’s proposed net metering policy in the state. The partnership suggests a transition from the current compensation model for solar net metering to one that continues to support the development of clean solar power in New York, while addressing customer cost-sharing issues.

In October 2015, NYPSU had directed the utilities to continue accepting applications for net metering in the state after Orange and Rockland Utilities approached it to stop interconnection of net metered generation beyond 6% ceiling.

The US has distributed solar in the form of solar rooftop and community solar systems. In many US states, consumers producing excess solar energy are entitled to net metering, the tariff for which is set by a government body like the state public service commission. The bone of contention between utilities and solar power companies or bodies is regarding the revenue requirement to maintain the grid which falls on non-solar consumers.

The proposal recommends collecting a payment from solar developers to community and remote solar projects connected to the grid, while preserving utility bill savings for their customers. This, says the official press release from ConEdison, will give the solar developers a greater certainty over their ability to connect customers to their projects. At the same time, the utilities will have financial resources to maintain a reliable grid. This will ensure the widespread success of solar, according to the partnership.

John McAvoy, chairman and CEO of ConEdison said, “We’re working together to keep our state’s solar market vibrant while enabling us to maintain the robust power grid that solar energy requires, and in a way that is fair to all customers. Utilities and solar companies have found common ground to enhance our environment, the economy and electric reliability.” The partnership will ensure that adequate funding is available to maintain a reliable and resilient grid.

Solar Progress Partnership was initiated by Advanced Energy Economy Institute, which facilitated a dialogue on the subject between the parties. Lyndon Rive of SolarCity says, “The deep institutional knowledge of these six utilities, and the creative approach they are taking to the evolution of electricity, is inspiring. Leaders like these will lay the foundation for the grid of the future.”