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solar policy
Figure 1 Solar panels – solar policy (wallpaperaccess, n.d.,)

Solar industry is a highly regulated industry. The policy that governs renewable energy generation at the federal, state and utility level is forever changing and adapting. Incorporating solar policy is a complex process. Many utilities, states, and municipalities adopt policies as a catalyst. This is to create programs that provide various incentives to increase solar energy deployment.

Now may not come as a surprise to you, but the states with a good solar policy are also the ones that are leading in solar deployment, like New Jersey.

Now let’s jump into some specifics, the types of solar policy, and energy programs out there that are setting the stage for solar growth.

Renewable portfolio standard (RPS)

A renewable portfolio standard (RPS) is a regulatory mandate to increase production of energy. You can do this by using renewable sources such as wind, solar, biomass and other alternatives to fossil and nuclear electric generation. It also refers to as a renewable power standard.

Many states have RPS standards that require a particular amount of renewable energy generation on the grid. It does not matter whether it is biomass, wind, or solar, or practically anything that’s carbon free.

These regulations might vary substantially between states; for example, Washington State established a goal of 15% renewables last year, but Colorado has boosted that to 30%. Why, it has one of the most aggressive RPS mandates in the country, aiming for 100 percent renewable energy by 2045 globally.

Net metering

This is one of the most common pieces of state legislation and utility rules out there that dictate how businesses like you can become safe for the energy that comes from your system.

It’s comparable to a “solar bank,” in which you may swap kilowatt hours for kilowatt hours. Building owners with rooftop systems will first and foremost use the kilowatts generated by the system on site. Moreover, any excess energy that comes from that system during the day, will spill onto the grid, where they will be credited at retail rate for those kilowatt hours. This relates to areas where net metering is available,

And at nighttime when they need energy, they can pull from that solar bank of credits. The business owner’s utility bill at the end of the month will be the amount of kilowatt hours used by the utility, minus the kilowatt hours produced by the system, and a customer’s goal is to be net zero, which is totally possible.

(Amount of kWh used from the utility) – (kWh produced by their system) = (Goal net Zero)

Green roof solar policy

Green roof policy intends to maximize the collective benefits of green roofs. Collective benefits are those which benefit the public at large, such as reduced storm-water runoff, climate moderation and thermal cooling.

In 2017, San Francisco became the first city in US to mandate this as a policy with either including solar or living roofs on new construction. This concept has spread across many cities across the country. Furthermore, people adapt ,more to it in metropolitan areas across the US.

Utility created procurement programs

This policy is where utilities create programs to procure energy from renewable sources. These typically are often optimizing programs that ratepayers can access through their utility. Moreover, they often come at a premium. You pay an extra few cents per kilowatt hour. This is to ensure that your utility is buying green power per renewable source. The benefit of these programs is that they are easy to sign up for anyone. More people participate, it ensures more clean energy adds up to the grid.

However, there is no real financial benefit to the customer and in fact you are paying more for that energy. So, ask yourself, would you rather pay extra to your utility or if you had to become your own power producer, save money, and the planet. If your state does not provide solar incentives to businesses, you will miss out on a valuable investment. So, get involved to influence a beneficial solar policy in your state. Moreover, the solar energy industry association (SEIA) advocates for solar legislation on a national level, and there are often local chapters as well, which may assist you in navigating particular local utilities and developing initiatives to help companies take benefit of adopting solar.

Read here about the federal solar tax: https://engineerinc.io/what-is-the-federal-solar-tax-credit/

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