Regardless of what drives the action — state regulation, federal policy, economic reality — collaboration between utilities and the solar industry is now becoming prevalent. Expanding definitions...
Solar Mandate? Like it or Not, Consumers Pay
percent up to $5,000 for solar thermal systems. As much as $300,000 or 60 percent of costs for PV cells and panels in a single project is allowed. The REPR has $1 million available from the SBC as of August 1998. The DCCA will conduct an annual study on use and availability of renewable resources. %n26%n
DCCA has funded wind and solar resource monitoring at 18 sites. It also has administered $200,000 in PV systems grants since 1986.
Retail access for most small utility customers won't begin in Illinois until 2002, but beginning Jan. 1, every utility and alternative retail electric supplier must disclose in quarterly utility bills fuel sources and environmental emissions. %n27%n
Montana. Renewable energy operating by Jan. 1 may be funded under the Universal System Benefit Programs. %n28%n The SBC is 2.4 percent of 1995 utility revenues. The funds go to energy efficiency, renewables and low-income energy assistance. The SBC will raise as much as $14 million under a 10th of a mill-per-kWh formula.
Much of the debate so far has focused on the amount of low-income energy assistance and weatherization funding. A minimum of 17 percent of the SBC will be applied to this use.
Montana Power Co. proposes using $1 million of the $8.6 million from its SBC on renewable energy projects. %n29%n The Natural Resources Defense Council and Renewable Northwest Project proposed SBC funding of $1.35 million for renewables, including $450,000 for new solar resources. This would include demonstration projects in a low-income neighborhood and for a school or library. %n30%n By law, the utility may operate internal SBC programs, or turn the programs over to a third party agent or an administrator set up by the state.
The legislature's transition advisory committee has a subcommittee looking into setting up a statewide fund administrator. The TAC is obligated to provide a set of legislative recommendations to the governor before Jan. 1. The PSC was set to consider the SBC in the Montana Power restructuring case Sept 21. %n31%n A decision was expected late this year.
Massachusetts. The state's November 1997 restructuring law sets up an SBC for renewable energy technologies of 1 mill on each kWh of electricity sold. Expected to generate $40 to $45 million in each of the next five years, SBC revenues will be placed in a Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust Fund %n32%n overseen by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. About $50 million of the eventual $200 million in the trust will be dedicated to waste-to-energy pollution controls or retirements. About $25 million a year will be available for renewable energy projects. The plan provides for elements of product and market development, training and public information, investment and research and development. %n33%n The Bain & Co. and Arthur D. Little consulting firms will develop an SBC implementation plan.
The Massachusetts SBC was challenged in a March state court complaint %n34%n arguing that the SBC is unfairly discriminatory, since municipal electric systems don't collect the charge under the restructuring law. This case and the November 1998 ballot issue seeking repeal of the entire 1997 restructuring