Policy Update 3/18/16
This policy update will provide a wrap-up of the legislative session, how those legislative issues will be addressed and will also touch on a solar task force process underway at the Bonneville Power Administration.
Gov. Kate Brown signed SB 1547 (Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Plan) at James John Elementary School in North Portland on March 11, 2016 Gov.
The 2016 legislative session ended on March 3, 2016. It was a big session for solar. OSEIA members heard about SB 1547 that addressed coal elimination and RPS expansion as well as community solar and also HB 4037 which establishes a solar incentive program for large solar projects (2MW-10MW). Both bills have been signed (see photos below).
The attention will now turn to the administrative arena to implement the policies adopted in the bills. We’ll look at those processes next.
Brown signed HB 4037 (the Solar Incentive Program) on March 16, 2016 in Pendleton at the Early Child Development Center.
We will start to see the Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) take up rulemaking around the various parts of SB 1547 by late April or early May. At this point, it looks like the PUC will hold an initial workshop to look at the whole bill and then create separate dockets to address the different components (RPS, community solar, small-scale renewables, transportation electrification).
In addition to the rulemaking that will happen around SB 1547, there are a number of other dockets affecting solar that are ongoing. Here is an overview.
UM 1690 – Voluntary Renewable Energy Tariff (VRET) or “green tariff.” Intended to enable large customers to have access to products that provide 100 percent renewable energy.
Status Update: Utilities are supposed to provide an outline of what a green tariff might look like by mid-April. It’s unclear what will be presented. The future of this docket will also likely be affected by the fact that the same large customers that might be interested in a VRET can now be included in community solar projects.
UM 1713 – Large-User Energy Efficiency. Trying to find a solution framework for getting more funding for efficiency from the industrial customers.
Status Update: A variety of parties have been working at the Oregon Public Utility Commission to resolve an issue around energy efficiency in the industrial sector. As part of that discussion, a proposal was developed to change the existing public purpose charge to manage the efficiency and renewables portions differently, preserving the programs long-term. The docket has been in hiatus but should be revived soon.
UM 1716 – Resource Value of Solar. Intended to determine the actual value that solar delivers to the utility system.
Status Update: Staff testimony in the docket is due in early June.
UM 1725/1731/1733/1734 – All dockets related to PURPA, the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act, which outlines how utilities are supposed to engage with and buy from small-scale renewable energy developers.
Status Update: Currently these cases are closed and are awaiting a decision from the commission. It’s possible that some issues, particularly in UM 1734 (focused on Pacific Power) might be reviewed as a result of the passage of SB 1547, especially because of the new small-scale renewables mandate.
UM 1751 – Storage. In the 2015 session, the legislature adopted HB 2193, requiring investor-owned utilities to establish small storage programs.
Status Update: A pre-hearing conference is being scheduled for very late this month or very early April. This meeting will determine the schedule for the docket.
BPA Solar Task Force
Solar is statewide so the industry works not just in the investor-owned (private) utility, or IOU, territory regulated by the PUC but also in the service territory of the consumer-owned utilities within the system of the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA). BPA has started a Solar Task Force within the agency to review its solar approach and practices from top to bottom. The process is just beginning and we will keep members posted as it moves along.