Community solar update: Council delays fairness fix

By Ben Delman on July 15, 2015

DC SUN and activists across the city have been fighting to ensure that folks participating in community solar facilities under D.C.’s Community Renewables Energy Act (CREA) receive 100% credit for the solar they produce. The current PSC rules call for generation and transmission credits but not distribution or taxes/surcharges. This means for home-based net metering offers a credit of roughly 14¢/kilowatt hour, while the current interpretation of CREA would offer only 8¢/kilowatt hour for electricity from community solar. For more background click here.

Yesterday, we expected emergency legislation to be introduced and passed to address this issue. At the last minute, the PSC weighed in with a letter that argued the loss of tax revenue from reduced energy use would create a fiscal impact on the city’s budget. The D.C. Council office agreed, and the Chairman Mendelson decided that the emergency legislation should not move forward with the fiscal impact.

Councilmember McDuffie’s office, which was taking leadership on the emergency legislation said that the fiscal impact statement (FIS) for the legislative change was approximately $1.71 million due to taxes and other similar charges. As a result, the emergency amendment was pulled from the council’s schedule. McDuffie’s office said that although they cannot move forward with the emergency bill. They did say there will be an opportunity to work through any issues, perceived or real, regarding the costs of implementing a framework that continues to promote investment in solar as the permanent legislation moves forward.

Permanent legislation to fix the CREF credit rate to a full 1:1 rate like rooftop solar was introduced yesterday. It was sent to the Business, Consumers and Regulatory Affairs Committee chaired by Vincent Orange. The next opportunity for the legislation to be acted on will be September. Sadly, this delay may mean that very few community solar projects are built in the near future.