DC citizen wins increase in net metering limit to 200% of past usage

Author: William Driscoll               Published: 8/12/2020          PV Magazine

States like California whose laws say net-metered solar must be “intended primarily” for self-consumption could join Washington, D.C. in increasing their net metering limit, says D.C. resident David Roodman.

David Roodman shopped for the largest allowable solar installation for his Washington, D.C. home because, he says, “I wanted to push whatever limit was there.”

He found D.C.’s net metering law permits rooftop solar that is “intended primarily” for self-consumption—a limit that was interpreted as 100% of past usage.

Maryland’s net metering law uses the same phrase, yet its regulators set the limit at 200% of past usage, which reflects “a reasonable reading of the word ‘primarily,’ as being something more than half the output,” staff lawyers for the state regulatory agency explained.

So when the local utility denied Roodman’s plan for rooftop solar to provide 120% of his past usage, Roodman filed a formal complaint with the D.C. Public Service Commission. A hearing examiner ruled against him, but in a lucky break, an attorney suggested he could file a comment in an ongoing regulatory docket.

“So I did my best to write something that looks like the sorts of documents that the lawyers representing utilities write, with the right kind of footnotes and the right font,” said Roodman. “You know, I did my research and I just tried to make the argument as well as I could in five or six pages.”

Last week the D.C. Public Service Commission agreed with Roodman and a regulatory working group that he had joined, issuing a ruling that will increase the net metering limit by 20% per year for five years, reaching 200% in 2024. A customer whose generation exceeds consumption will be compensated for the excess generation at the wholesale price per kWh. The Commission may suspend an annual increase due to concerns over reliability, safety, or cost impacts.

Worth it?

For a D.C. solar owner, most of the financial benefit comes from the sale of renewable energy credits, Roodman says. So he’s fine with earning compensation only at the wholesale rate for his excess generation, because that generation will still create valuable credits, and besides, “we have do everything we possibly can to make the energy supply cleaner.”

In other states, renewable energy credit prices “are much lower or zero,” Roodman says. “Still, I think there are plenty of people who can afford to push the limits of their roofs even if the excess earns them nothing, and who would be happy to do so. It’s a small contribution to protecting the atmosphere.”

As panel efficiencies increase, enabling them to generate more energy per square foot, D.C.’s increasing limits to 200% will help the city’s future solar buyers fill their rooftop with solar, including those who plan to buy an electric vehicle or electrify their heating. And to the extent they do, the increased limit will help D.C. meet its 100% by 2032 renewables mandate.

California’s chance

Roodman says that California, where regulators have also interpreted the net metering phrase “intended primarily” as 100% of past usage, should consider raising the limit as D.C. has done.

California is “a really big state with a huge amount of residential solar potential. I don’t want to exaggerate the immediate benefits from raising the ceiling. But we’ve got to do everything we can.”

Other states that may have the same opportunity include Illinois, Kansas, Missouri and Ohio, according to research Roodman conducted last year.


Roodman’s experience led him to reflect on the value of different kinds of advocacy. Net metering laws were achieved in the first place by activists, he said, who organized and communicated to convey the policy’s value. For his part, “I’m an analyst, an explainer, a dissector of arguments, and in this particular case, that was useful,” he said. “So it makes me appreciate that there’s value in different approaches.”

Dominion Energy Announces 11 Schools to Benefit from $35 Million Higher Education Equity Initiative

Author: Dominion Energy                      Published: 7/23/2020          PRNewswire


“HBCU Promise” Program Supports Schools in Virginia, South Carolina, Ohio and North Carolina

RICHMOND, Va.July 23, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Dominion Energy (NYSE: D) today announced that 11 historically black colleges and universities in VirginiaOhioNorth Carolina and South Carolina will receive support through a $35 million initiative aimed at promoting higher education equity. The six-year “HBCU Promise” program will provide $25 million in funding to select institutions. Additionally, a $10 million scholarship fund will support African American and underrepresented minority students across the company’s service territory.

Said Thomas F. Farrell, II, the company’s chairman, president and chief executive officer:

“We have all been witness to our country’s evolving conversation on race and social justice. The country is changing, and we have been looking for ways that we can make a difference. Investing in these important institutions – which serve as a springboard for social and economic mobility for so many – is one way we can help. We have actually partnered with HBCUs for nearly 40 years, offering volunteer and financial support. As I have said before, we are humbled and honored to continue supporting them with this current initiative.”

In selecting the institutions, the company looked at a range of factors, including locations with a significant customer presence, past partnerships and opportunities to make immediate impact. In structuring the partnerships, the company will focus on four general areas: operating needs, urgent capital needs, endowment and scholarships. Some details remain to be worked out. But Dominion Energy plans to tailor packages to the needs of each institution. The schools are:

Hampton University, Hampton
Norfolk State University, Norfolk
Virginia Union UniversityRichmond
Virginia State UniversityPetersburg

South Carolina
Allen UniversityColumbia
Benedict CollegeColumbia
Claflin University, Orangeburg
South Carolina State UniversityOrangeburg

Central State UniversityWilberforce, OH
Wilberforce UniversityWilberforce, OH

North Carolina
North Carolina A&T State UniversityGreensboro

Details about the Dominion Energy Educational Equity scholarship fund will be provided later.

About Dominion Energy
More than 7 million customers in 20 states energize their homes and businesses with electricity or natural gas from Dominion Energy (NYSE: D), headquartered in Richmond, Va. The company is committed to sustainable, reliable, affordable and safe energy and is one of the nation’s largest producers and transporters of energy with more than $100 billion of assets providing electric generation, transmission and distribution, as well as natural gas storage, transmission, distribution and import/export services. The company is committed to achieving net zero carbon dioxide and methane emissions from its power generation and gas infrastructure operations by 2050. Please visit DominionEnergy.com to learn more.

SOURCE Dominion Energy

For further information: Ohio/Virginia: 804-771-6115, North Carolina/South Carolina: 800-562-9308


Author: Dana Givens          Published: 7/29/2020             50Black Enterprise Magazine

Mackenzie Scott

Last year, it was reported that Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos, was divorcing his wife of 25 years, MacKenzie Scott as the two engaged in a court battle for assets. Scott ended up walking away with a $38 billion settlement from the divorce and now the author and philanthropist has continued her own career, reportedly donating over $1 billion since the split. It was announced this week that Scott donated $160 million to various HBCUs.

In an unassuming post on Medium published this morning, humanitarian MacKenzie Scott today announced more than $1.7 billion in philanthropic giving to 116 institutions. An estimated $160 million of that giving is believed to have been given to several historically black institutions and two HBCU advocacy organizations.

The Thurgood Marshall College Fund, United Negro College Fund, Hampton University, Howard University, Morehouse College, Spelman CollegeTuskegee University, and Xavier University of Louisiana each announced “transformational gifts” today, with Tuskegee and Xavier officials citing gifts of $20 million.

For several of the schools, the gifts are the largest in their respective histories.

“This pure act of benevolence is clearly a game-changer and it could not have come at a better time,” said Hampton President William R. Harvey. “I speak for the entire Hampton University community when I say we are grateful to Ms. MacKenzie Scott, who has chosen to support us during this unprecedented period of uncertainty.”

“I would like to thank Ms. Mackenzie Scott for her investment into Howard University and our 153-year mission of serving a diverse community of dynamic scholars who come here for an education and leave here with purpose to serve the world,” said Howard President Wayne A.I. Frederick. “We plan to immediately put this eight-figure gift to good use to support components of our 5-year strategic plan to help students graduate on time, retain our talented faculty, enhance our campus infrastructure and support academic innovation and entrepreneurship.”

The gifts are also believed to be the largest private donation from a single donor to the historically black college and university sector in U.S. history, and each unrestricted gift has been paid in full to each institution. It continues a historic era of giving for HBCUs over the last two years, which has resulted in several record-breaking donations to HBCUs across the country.

Scott said that each of the organizations received support due to sustained leadership, and cultural impact.

“Every one of them is tackling complex challenges that will require sustained effort over many years, while simultaneously addressing consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. And every one of them would benefit from more allies looking to share wealth of all types and sizes, including money, volunteer time, supplies, advocacy, publicity, networks and relationships, collaboration, encouragement, and trust,” Scott said.

Hampton University, Tuskegee University, Howard University, Spelman College, and Morehouse College are among the names that have received some of the largest donations in their history from Scott’s estimated $160 million donation distributed to  several historically black institutions and two HBCU advocacy organizations.
“I would like to thank Ms. Mackenzie Scott for her investment into Howard University and our 153-year mission of serving a diverse community of dynamic scholars who come here for an education and leave here with purpose to serve the world,” said Howard University President Wayne A. I. Frederick, M.D., MBA in a press statement. “We plan to immediately put this eight-figure gift to good use to support components of our 5-year strategic plan to help students graduate on time, retain our talented faculty, enhance our campus infrastructure and support academic innovation and entrepreneurship.”

“This pure act of benevolence is clearly a game-changer and it could not have come at a better time,” said Hampton President William R. Harvey according to HBCU Digest. “I speak for the entire Hampton University community when I say we are grateful to Ms. MacKenzie Scott, who has chosen to support us during this unprecedented period of uncertainty.”

Scott says she made the donation in recognition of the institutions contribution to educating marginalized communities. ““Every one of them is tackling complex challenges that will require sustained effort over many years, while simultaneously addressing consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic,” she says according to HBCU Digest.

Every one of them would benefit from more allies looking to share wealth of all types and sizes, including money, volunteer time, supplies, advocacy, publicity, networks and relationships, collaboration, encouragement, and trust.”


Author: ADRIENNE FRANK         Published:  8/11/2020           American University Magazine / Summer 2020

dinosaur in front of Mary Graydon Center proclaiming that fossil fuels are extinct at AU

It took millions of years for prehistoric plants and organisms buried beneath layers of sediment and rock to morph into carbon-rich deposits. But it only took six years for AU to divest from fossil fuels.

On April 20—the 50th anniversary of Earth Day—the university announced it had sold $350 million in commingled funds and index funds to complete the divestment. Nonrenewable fuels—coal, oil, and natural gas—supply 80 percent of the world’s energy and are the number one contributor to the carbon emissions that cause global warming.

The Board of Trustees established a fossil-free fund with the university’s endowment in 2014. Since then, AU has carefully divested its public endowment portfolio, replacing fossil fuel holdings with investments with similar performance and comparable or lower fees. The university currently has no Carbon 200 companies in its private investment portfolio but may have small and short-lived positions in the future.

“For more than a decade, AU has been on a campus-wide sustainability journey—something that’s not just part of our mission, but our DNA as changemakers,” says President Sylvia Burwell. “Our actions, from reaching carbon neutrality to the board’s commitment to evolving our investments, will continue to serve as a model for sustainability, further demonstrating our leadership on the issue and how our community can make an impact in the global fight against climate change.”

The announcement came almost two years to the day after AU became the first university in the country to achieve carbon neutrality, and a week after a student referendum encouraging the board to divest from fossil fuels passed with 93 percent of the vote. Students passed a similar referendum in 2013.

“This action underscores our leadership on sustainability while exercising our fiduciary responsibility for ensuring the fiscal health of a great university that has served our nation for more than a century,” says trustee Jeff Sine, SIS/BA ’76, chair of AU’s finance and investment committee. “Our board wants to acknowledge the important work happening throughout the campus to protect the environment and those in our AU community who are taking action on climate change.”


dinosaur in front of Mary Graydon Center proclaiming that fossil fuels are extinct at AU

DC raises size limit on net-metered systems

Author: Herve Billiet                Published: 8/6/2020                  IPSUN Solar


Ipsun Solar Logo

A couple of hours ago the DC Public Service Commission issued an order to raise the size limits on net metered systems—which mostly means rooftop solar, in practice.


 The order becomes effective upon its publication in the DC Register, which might come tomorrow (the Register comes out on Fridays). My reading is that as soon as it takes effect, the size limit will rise from 100% to 120% of historical usage. It will rise again, to 140%, on January 1, and then 160%, 180%, 200% over the following years. A few points:

  • There’s an opportunity to pause the increases if adverse effects are found for the power distribution system. The order directs the working group that generated this rule change to monitor for such effects. I doubt this will amount to much since Maryland has been at 200% for about a decade without apparent problems.
  • As Kyle has pointed out, “historical usage” is not defined in the rules. This gives Pepco discretion in defining it, and in principle gives customers discretion in challenging Pepco’s definition. But Pepco has long had that discretion, and I think sometimes has used it in favor of customers who are, say, planning on buying an EV. Presumably Pepco will, for a baseline, continue equating each kW of nameplate inverter capacity (not panel capacity) to 1200 kWh/year of production, and define historical production based on bills over the last 12 or 24 months. We should watch what Pepco does.
  • The rule change also stipulates that customers who generate a surplus on an annual basis will get a payout at the end of the year for the excess, at the wholesale/”generation” price per kWh.

 As I’ve written before, this change originated in a fight I picked with Pepco a couple of years ago. After almost 30 years of doing policy-relevant research and writing in my day job, without clear policy impacts, I’ve helped change policy in my spare time, which is nice.

 Many others contributed: Ipsun Solar was game for slowing our installation so I could pursue the original complain; Pepco lawyer Andrea Harper, after fending off my complaint, suggested I file a comment with the PSC in ongoing proceedings; patient staff at the PSC handled the comment, inserted the issue into the already weighty agenda of a new working group, and wrangled that working group over nearly two years; solar industry people and DC officials contributed energetically to the process; folks on this list files supportive comments.

 And the working group actually spent much of its time on smoothing the process for connecting Community Renewable Energy Facilities, work that was at least as important, but which I don’t understand as well.

 Power. Fully Yours.

Herve Billiet

Herve Billiet

Co-Founder and CEO

Management | Ipsun Solar

Power. Fully Yours

866 484 7786 | 703 260 6028

DC Chamber of Commerce Launches Initiative for DC Businesses Applying and Seeking Support with U.S. SBA Paycheck Protection Program Loans

Author: DC Chamber of Commerence                    Publishe: 8/8/2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically impacted small businesses throughout the U.S. Fortunately, federal and state policymakers have responded by creating The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) implemented by the Small Business Administration (SBA) to provide relief. This program is specifically designed to help small businesses maintain payroll and benefits for employees and cover overhead costs like rent, utilities, and mortgage interest.
Small businesses with fewer than 500 employees (subject to certain limited exceptions); independent contractors; and sole proprietors in business on February 15, 2020, can qualify.
The DC Chamber of Commerce (DCCC) has partnered with the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) to educate, connect, and provide technical assistance to support the small business community who are in pursuit of a PPP loan. DCCC will provide training sessions, and support businesses in need with bookkeeping and accounting services to aid in the economic recovery, and ensure that local businesses remain viable during this recession.
This resource is designed to help you understand the program and walk you through the steps you need to take to apply for this loan – and what you need to do to get the loan forgiven, so you don’t have to pay it back!
DCCC will connect small businesses with our partners in the accounting, CPA, and financial industries that are standing by ready to help.
For assistance, please contact Linda Currie (202) 379-1897 or lcurrie@dcchamber.org.
For Spanish interpretation, contact Maria Melendez (202) 699-2606 or mariacrismelendez@gmail.com
Missed our last training session on what you need to know to apply for the PPP loan?
Don’t worry, the virtual seminar was recorded and is available to review on-demand. Just click the link for the English session and check out our business resource page for other information.
Don’t forget to check out the presentation slides and other business resource materials on our COVID-19 resource page linked below.

Diversity in Utility Regulation

Author: Scott Hempling Attorney at Law LLC           Published:  July 2020    Enery Democracy Initiative

Dear Colleagues,

Readers of my monthly essays know that for the period February 2020 through March 2021, each month’s essay will digest a chapter from my forthcoming book, Regulating Mergers and Acquisitions of Public Utilities: Industry Concentration and Corporate Complication. It seemed right, however, to offer this month a reprint of an essay I wrote several years ago, about utilities’ and regulators’ responsibility to make our industries diverse and nondiscriminatory—not just economically but societally.


We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.

— Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929–1968)

* * *

          When utility regulators talk about diversity and discrimination, they usually mean fuel types, supplier mix, and transmission access.  But it also means societal relations.  As our nation becomes more diverse, so do the customers of our regulated utilities.  What is a utility’s responsibility to reflect this diversity in its employees and contractors?  What is the regulator’s role?

There are many voluntary utility efforts, some encouraged through the admirable Utility Market Access Partnership under the auspices of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners.  But voluntary means voluntary—non-mandatory, if I care enough, when I get around to it, if it doesn’t cost too much.  If the goal is to eliminate the gap between utility workforce diversity and societal diversity, “voluntary” isn’t enough.  The gap, I’m told, persists.  Suppose we made the question tougher:  Should diversity be mandatory?  Should a utility franchise—a government-granted, government-protected, government-supported right to operate a profitable business free of competition—include an obligation to create a diverse work force and contractor base?  And an even tougher question:  Does that obligation exist already?  Does a commission’s traditional legal authority include any authority to mandate particular efforts or results?

Thirty-six years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court examined a toenail on this question—answering it mostly negatively.  The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (the “NAACP”) had asked the Federal Power Commission (“FPC,” FERC’s predecessor) to issue a rule prohibiting utilities from discriminating against their employees based on race.  Their proposed rule would have required the Commission to “(a) enumerate unlawful employment practices; (b) require regulatees to establish a written program for equal employment opportunity, which would be filed with the Commission; and (c) provide for individual employees to file discrimination complaints directly with the Commission” (as summarized in Chief Justice Burger’s concurring opinion).

Citing the Federal Power Act and Natural Gas Act, the NAACP argued that (a) the FPC’s substantive statutes declare the businesses of selling electricity and natural gas to be “affected with a public interest,” and (b) racial discrimination by utilities conflicts with the public interest.  The FPC therefore was both authorized and obligated to bar racial discrimination by its licensees.

The FPC rejected the request, saying, in effect, “Not our department.”  Both the Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the FPC.  As the Supreme Court explained:

“[T]he use of the words ‘public interest’ in a regulatory statute is not a broad license to promote the general public welfare.  Rather, the words take meaning from the purposes of the regulatory legislation. … [T]he principal purpose of those Acts was to encourage the orderly development of plentiful supplies of electricity and natural gas at reasonable prices.  … The use of the words “public interest” in the Gas and Power Acts is not a directive to the Commission to seek to eradicate discrimination, but, rather, is a charge to promote the orderly production of plentiful supplies of electric energy and natural gas at just and reasonable rates.”

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People v. Federal Power Commission, 425 U.S. 662 (1976).  Sympathetic to the Petitioners’ purpose, the Court stressed that if a utility’s discriminatory practices triggered fines, backpay awards, litigation fees, or “illegal, duplicative[,] or unnecessary labor costs,” the Commission should disallow them when setting “just and reasonable” rates.  Those actions fell within the agency’s domain; regulating employment practices did not.

Are diversity-promoters limited to voluntarism, or does the decision leave room for mandates?  (Technically the opinion binds only FERC, but its reasoning could resonate with any regulatory statute.  We need some workarounds.)  Here are some thoughts:

          1.  Assume a state commission finds that a utility’s hiring or subcontracting practices discriminate by race, ethnicity, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, or age.  Could the commission find that this discrimination reduces the utility’s responsiveness to the public?  Or that it inflates the utility’s cost structure because its employee and contractor corps was deprived of high-quality people?  These findings would require factual investigation, comparisons among workforces, and real cause-and-effect linkages between workplace discrimination and utility performance.  But an affirmative answer is plausible.  Armed with these factual findings, a commission could solve two legal problems left unaddressed by the NAACP opinion.  First, the commission would not be exercising some “broad license to promote the general public welfare”; it would be carrying out its core purpose:  policing the operational and cost performance of public utilities, and setting rates accordingly.  Second, the commission would have rooted its decisions in factual findings rather than in a general desire to improve society.  Remember that courts defer to factual findings when based on substantial evidence.

          2.  Having found utility performance impaired by discrimination, what steps could the commission take?  Could it disallow costs deemed excessive due to the discrimination?  Impose penalties for the performance shortfall?  Condition the utility’s continued franchise right on immediate actions to solve the problem?  Revoke the franchise in favor of a company less likely to discriminate?  If the commission linked these consequences factually and reasonably to the forbidden activities, and linked the activities to performance shortfalls, would the commission be safe from legal challenge?  Better yet—might the possibility of financial consequences spur more “voluntary” efforts, so that the gap would close more quickly?  And having found an indisputable link between discrimination and performance, could the commission now require the utility to take specific actions aimed at eliminating the discrimination, such as active recruiting, training human resource staff and supervisors, implementing whistleblower processes, and employing other practices used by model companies?

By basing the regulator’s actions on utility performance rather than some “broad license to promote the general public welfare,” we may have created some space for a commission mandate.

I admit that this approach could generate backlash from those wishing to cite Chief Justice Burger’s concurring opinion (somewhat sourpussy, in my view) to the effect that the alleged costs of some types of discrimination “could not be quantified without resort to wholly speculative assumptions that would be unacceptable for ratemaking purposes.  It would be quite impossible, for example, to measure or determine with any exactitude ‘the costs of inefficiency among minority employees demoralized by discriminatory barriers to their fair treatment or promotion.’  Nor is it likely that ‘the costs of strikes, demonstrations, and boycotts aimed against [a utility] because of employment discrimination’ … could ever be determined with sufficient reliability.  … [I]t would not be in the public interest to allow intervenors to delay the orderly progress of rate proceedings in the vain hope that such costs might, after protracted litigation, be quantified.'”

          3.  If we know that racial discrimination can cause utility inefficiency, what bars a commission from acting affirmatively to prevent it?  Rather than wait for discrimination to occur, make findings, and then impose penalties, could a commission require all utilities (not only utilities accused of discrimination) to (a) report periodically on their hiring and promotion practices and results, (b) explain any lack of progress, and/or (c) institute best practices as determined by the commission?  If these requirements are linked to operational performance, what could be the legal arguments against them?  How would they differ from standards for outages, dropped calls, or water quality?

Unlike running the Girl Scouts or the Red Cross, regulating utility performance is not about asking for volunteers.  Effective regulators mandate quality standards and base compensation on performance.  We do it for outages, dropped calls, and water quality.  As long as we link it to performance, we can do the same for diversity.

DCPSC seeks public comment in Pepco multiyear rate plan and 202 area code plan

Author:  Kellie Didigu        Published: 8/4/2020                        DCPSC

(Washington, D.C.) The Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia (Commission) has issued a public notice scheduling a virtual community hearing to receive comments on two matters:  the Pepco Application to Implement a Multiyear Rate Plan for electric distribution service (Formal Case No. 1156), and the Petition of the North American Numbering Plan Administrator (NANPA) for relief for the 202 numbering plan area (Formal Case No. 1165). The virtual community hearing for the formal cases is scheduled for September 1, 2020 at 2:00 p.m. 

 Comment is requested on the 2019 Pepco Application requesting the Commission to authorize an increase in rates and charges for electric service through the implementation of a Multiyear Rate Plan. The plan is for Pepco’s electric distribution service in the District of Columbia for the years 2020 through 2022. 


Comment is also requested on the NANPA Petition. To ensure that the District of Columbia has enough telephone numbers for wireline and wireless telecommunications service customers, the Commission is requested to approve an implementation schedule to transition to a second area code in the District. The new area code would be implemented six months prior to the exhaust of the 202 area code numbers as required by industry guidelines.


Those who wish to testify at either or both portions of the virtual community hearing should contact the Commission Secretary by the close of business, five business days prior to the date of the hearing by sending an email. Representatives of organizations shall be permitted a maximum of five minutes for oral presentations.

Individuals shall be permitted a maximum of three minutes for oral presentations. Additional instructions will be provided before the hearing to persons who have provided notice of their intent to participate.

 If an organization or an individual is unable to offer comments at the virtual community hearing, written statements can be submitted electronically by email or on the Commission’s website.

 For special accommodations and interpretation services, please call the Commission Secretary’s Office at 202-626-5150.

 The Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia is an independent agency established by Congress in 1913 to regulate electric, natural gas, and telecommunications companies in the District of Columbia.


 Kellie Didigu

Communications Officer

The Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia


1325 G Street, N.W., Suite 800

Washington, D.C. 20005


National Community Solar Partnership

Author: Solar Energy Technologies Office             Published: 8/4/2020                     SETO

Energy dot gov Office of Energy Efficiency and renewable energy

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) is hiring a full-time management and program analyst to serve as the National Community Solar Partnership program lead.This role is a federal supervisory position at the GS-14 level.

Responsibilities include managing complex, multi-partner technical assistance programs; coordinating a team of solar energy technical experts to plan and carry out these programs; developing concepts for new programs and funding mechanisms aimed at reducing the non-hardware, or soft, costs of solar; and more.

Apply by August 12.

National Community Solar Partnership

The National Community Solar Partnership™ (NCSP) is a coalition of community solar stakeholders working to expand access to affordable community solar to every American household by 2025. Partners leverage peer networks and technical assistance resources to set goals and work to overcome persistent barriers to expanding community solar access to underserved communities. DOE announced the program on Wednesday, September 25, 2019.


The three goals of the partnership are:

  • Make community solar accessible to every U.S. household
  • Ensure community solar is affordable for every U.S. household
  • Enable communities to realize supplementary benefits and other value streams from community solar installations


To meet these goals, NCSP provides an array of national and local stakeholders — state, local, and tribal governments, utilities, businesses, nonprofit organizations, and others — the tools and information they need to design and implement successful community solar models. The partnership will provide these through three major activities:

  • Network Infrastructure: Partners have access to an online community platform, virtual and in-person meetings, webinars and other tools to engage with U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) staff and each other.
  • Technical Assistance: Partners have access to technical assistance resources from DOE, its National Laboratories, and independent third-party subject-matter experts for support on unique local challenges.
  • Collaboration: Structured groups of partners, called collaboratives, form around specific goals to address common barriers to solar adoption by learning from each other and sharing resources.

List of Partners

Partners as of July 9, 2020 (click to expand)

Upcoming Webinars

There are currently no upcoming webinars.

Technical Assistance

The application deadline for the first round of Technical Assistance Applications was Friday, May 29, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. ET and is now closed. To apply for future technical assistance opportunities, you must first join the partnership by registering with the community platform. Application instructions can be found on the community platform, and more details about the opportunity can be found in the technical assistance webinar slide deck.


Collaboratives are a group of similar organizations working to advance community solar in a particular market segment. Collaborative members set community solar goals, learn from their peers, and receive technical assistance over two years as they work to achieve their goals and create replicable solutions. DOE will launch new collaboratives in the future based on NCSP partner interest.


The Municipal Utility Collaborative seeks to demonstrate replicable models for solar energy deployment that offer low or no-fee subscriptions and result in energy bill savings for low-income residents. Download the Municipal Utility Collaborative fact sheet.

Members: Austin Energ, BrightRidge, City of Colton Electric Utility, Seattle City Light, Snohomish County Public Utility District Number One, Town of Marblehead Municipal Light Department


The Multifamily Affordable Housing Collaborative seeks to demonstrate replicable models for solar energy deployment that reduce resident’s monthly electric utility bills by at least 10 percent. Download the Multifamily Affordable Housing Collaborative fact sheet.

Members: Boulder Housing Partners, City of Boulder, Denver Housing Authority, Fifth Avenue Committee Solar, Meriden Housing Authority, National Church Residences, New York City Housing Authority, Preservation of Affordable Housing, Seattle Housing Authority, Wesley Living

NCSP Resources



The U.S. Department of Energy broadly defines community solar to include any solar project or purchasing program, within a geographic area, in which the benefits flow to multiple participants (individuals, businesses, nonprofits, etc.). According to analysis by the DOE National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), nearly 50% of households and businesses are unable to host rooftop solar systems. Expanding access to community solar options helps connect more Americans with clean energy for the first time. Community solar allows renters, tenants, and residents to access solar energy regardless of where they live or the suitability of their rooftop. This allows more people to offset monthly energy bills while increasing their community’s resiliency, enhancing workforce opportunities, and spurring economic development.


Certain underserved markets, including low- and moderate-income (LMI) populations, nonprofit organizations, and other community-serving entities, such as municipal governments, still face significant barriers to affordable solar deployment. A report from NREL that analyzed the recently competed Solar in Your Community Challenge identified three main takeaways from the challenge:

  • Clearly understand how federal, state, and local policies enable local solar projects.
  • Build durable and long-term partnerships with community members and solar stakeholders.
  • Develop a creative portfolio of financing solutions for small- and medium-size solar projects.

NCSP builds on the successes of the Solar in Your Community Challenge to support the replication of new and existing community solar models by partnering with diverse stakeholders across the country that are interested in expanding affordable access to solar. Learn more about the origins of NCSP here.

SETO Community Solar Timeline

Additional Resources

Solar in Your Community Challenge – This webpage contains resources assembled during the Solar in Your Community Challenge on issues like project development, customer acquisition, financing, permitting and interconnection, system design, and low- and moderate-income participation.

Community Solar – This webpage has the latest information from NREL about community solar, including links to recent reports.

Up to the Challenge: Communities Deploy Solar in Underserved Markets – This NREL report describes the Solar in Your Community Challenge and the top technical challenges the participating teams faced, and outlines some key takeaways.

Solar For All Data Explorer – This is a web application from NREL to help LMI rooftop solar technical potential at the tract level, including overlays for opportunity zones and other geospatial datasets.

Clean Energy for Low-Income Communities Accelerator (CELICA) – The U.S. Department of Energy’s CELICA toolkit provides an overview of tools, resources, and models for developing low-income energy efficiency and renewable energy programs, including community solar. The information is based on CELICA’s two-year partnership with over 30 stakeholders from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.

Low-income Energy Affordability Data (LEAD) Tool – This is a web application, developed by the U.S. Department of Energy, to help make data-driven decisions on energy goals and program planning by improving understanding LMI household energy characteristics.

Solar Savings to Investment Ratio (SIR) – This is a simple comparison spreadsheet tool, developed by NREL, that facilitates the calculation of the Savings to Investment Ratio, a metric used to measure the ability of a technology to recover the investment costs through savings achieved from customer utility-bill cost reduction.

Design and Implementation of Community Solar Programs for Low- and Moderate-Income Customers – This report draws on the experience of LMI solar developers and state LMI solar programs to gain insights into the successes and barriers of deploying community solar programs.

Modeling the Cost of LMI Community Solar Participation: Preliminary Results – This report seeks to understand the level of incentives needed to drive LMI customer participation in community solar.

Low-Income Community Solar: Utility Return Considerations for Electric Cooperatives – This report identifies project structures that make low-income community solar projects more cost-effective, replicable, and scalable for electric cooperative and municipal utilities.

Focusing the Sun: State Considerations for Designing Community Solar Policy – This report summarizes outcomes from the NCSP State Best Practices working group by identifying key differences in state policies that enable community solar and illustrating how various policy design approaches may impact the market.

Dems roll out sweeping environmental justice bill

Author:  Nick Sobczky             Published 2/27/2020            E&E News


Reps. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Don McEachin (D-Va.). Photo credit: Natural Resources Committee/Facebook

House Natural Resources Chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Va.), flanked by activists, introduced environmental justice legislation this morning.

House Democrats this morning unveiled a long-awaited environmental justice bill, a novel collaborative effort between lawmakers and local groups that have long been ignored on Capitol Hill.

Natural Resources Chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Va.) later today will lead introduction of the “Environmental Justice for All Act,” which would expand the National Environmental Policy Act and slap new fees on oil, gas and coal to fund communities transitioning away from fossil fuel economies.

The legislation faces an uphill battle in Congress this year, but it represents an unusual effort by lawmakers to reach out to communities affected by pollution to pull them into the larger congressional conversation about climate change and the environment.

Grijalva said environmental justice communities have always been an “afterthought” in those policy debates.

“What we wanted to do with this piece of legislation is interject this discussion into the center of the overall discussion about climate change and environmental policy going forward,” he said at a news conference this morning announcing the bill.

Grijalva and McEachin used an online platform called PopVox to allow disparate environmental justice groups around the country to comment on the legislation. During the last 18 months, the lawmakers have also met with hundreds of groups and hosted a daylong environmental justice summit on Capitol Hill.

The outreach meant that environmental justice organizations were no longer an afterthought, said Kim Gaddy, an environmental justice organizer with Clean Water Action in New Jersey.

“They brought us in early,” she said.

Grijalva said that when he introduced a separate environmental justice bill a few years ago, it garnered virtually no outside support because he hadn’t talked to communities.

“I wondered, why aren’t people buying into this wonderful idea?” Grijalva said. “Part arrogance and part ignorance.”

This time, he said, “the roles were reversed,” and environmental justice groups led the drafting process.

The bill would require federal agencies to offer greater input to environmental justice communities during the NEPA permitting process and mandate consideration of cumulative impacts under the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act.

It would also codify the 1994 executive order that set up the federal government’s existing environmental justice efforts and amend the Civil Rights Act to ban discrimination based on uneven environmental impacts.

All combined, this virtually ensures the measure has no chance of going anywhere in the GOP-controlled Senate, at a time when the Republican president is attempting to scale back NEPA reviews and expand oil and gas development.

But the bill also crosses several different House jurisdictions, meaning committees like Energy and Commerce, Judiciary, and Transportation and Infrastructure would have to mark it up before it comes to the floor.

Grijalva acknowledged that reality but said he had not started talking to the chairs of other committees, besides Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), in any real detail.

He said the Natural Resources panel may take up the legislation “sooner rather than later,” however, and Grijalva noted that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) gave remarks at the environmental justice summit he held with McEachin last year (E&E Daily, June 27, 2019).

Progressive Caucus co-chairwoman Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) is a co-sponsor of the legislation, and several other supporters also sit on Energy and Commerce, including McEachin and Reps. Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-Calif.), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.) and Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.).

Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.), another Energy and Commerce member who is challenging Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey in a tight Democratic primary race, has attached his name to the bill, as well.

Despite the likely Senate opposition, Grijalva said, “our job first is getting it through the House.”

“I think that would be a victory, because what I think is important is that we set a template for the American people,” he said. “All Americans.”

Oklahoma’s Rapid Medical Cannabis Ramp-Up

Author: Molly McCann, Ed.D., Director of Industry Analytics     Published: 8/2/2020       New Frontier Data

In July, the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) announced its new patient participation numbers, revealing 7.9% of Oklahomans as registered among medical cannabis patients. That rate is more than 2x any other state, and achieved within 24 months of medical legalization.

This blog is the first among a short series to examine lessons learned from the state’s accelerated successes with its legal cannabis programs. This week, the focus is on factors contributing to the rapid growth of its medical market.

Business Licenses – Quick and Accessible

Oklahomans legalized medical cannabis in June 2018 by approving its State Question 788 with 57% of the vote. Sales began 95 days later.

The ballot initiative specified time frames which the state would need to comply with, which influenced the market’s expeditious launch. The text specified that business license applications needed to be available within 30 days of the initiative’s passage, that a regulatory office be open to receive applications within 60 days, and that the state review and rule on applications within 14 days of their receipt. By comparison, most legalized state markets have required their implementation of a cannabis board or committee within a year (or two) to begin drafting initial regulations and determine application criteria, etc. Thus, while the average period for implementation across other state medical markets exceeded three years, Oklahoma’s was operational within three months.

Oklahoma’s medical program was also unique in that the state had no limit on cannabis business licenses. Furthermore, the cost of a license in the Sooner State is $2,500 – a fraction of that assessed in New York (80x more, at $200,000), Maryland (50x, at $125,000), and Illinois (40x, at $100,000), respectively. In Oklahoma, participating businesses are not required to be vertically integrated (significantly lowering the barriers to entry), and municipalities are prohibited from revising zoning laws which would “prevent the opening of a retail marijuana establishment”, both of which have helped create a competitive state market that is quickly becoming saturated.

Note: In Colorado, Alaska, Oregon, and Washington, business license counts include both medical and adult-use type dispensary retail licenses. Oklahoma numbers are current as of July 2020, the other states listed were last updated March 2020.

By Oklahoma’s requirements, at least 75% of members, managers, board members, and owners must be state residents. An August 2019 law (HB 2612, or the “Unity Bill”) clarified that residency be defined as having lived in Oklahoma for at least two years immediately preceding application, or at least five continuous years during the previous 25. However, as of July 22, OMMA suspended its enforcement of that residency requirement (pending a lawsuit which would remove the provision requiring anything more than current residency). If the two-year clause is lifted, Oklahoma’s market may see an influx of businesspeople and investors (including those anticipating adult-use legalization), which would attract additional demand from nearby states without legal cannabis markets of their own.

Patient Participation Made Easy

The speed and flexibility with which State Question 788 allowed both for patients to access the market and for participating doctors to recommend cannabis likewise contributed to the state’s explosive growth in legal demand.

Oklahoma does not require qualifying conditions for medical recommendations, which effectively permits any board-certified physician in good standing to recommend cannabis to a patient for any reason according to “accepted standards a reasonable and prudent physician would follow when recommending or approving any medication.” Given the broad range of conditions for which cannabis has reportedly been therapeutic, the provision allows for high rates of participation among nearly 4 million Oklahomans (the state’s unique characteristics as a medical market will be detailed in a later report among this series).

Another contributing catalyst for Oklahoma’s medical market development came from cannabis businesses’ proactive work increasing patients’ awareness and participation. Since late 2018, registration drives have been organized to register patients having a need for medical cannabis but perhaps unable to afford a full-price doctor’s visit, or others who were unaware how to apply with the state. The events bring in doctors to meet with prospective patients and write low- or no-cost recommendations for those who qualify. Often, volunteers also help prospective patients apply on the OMMA’s online patient application portal. Offering such assistance effectively increases public awareness while lowering barriers to participate, and doubtless has contributed to Oklahoma’s historic rate of patient participation.

Medical cannabis licenses in Oklahoma are valid for two years (unlike most states, which require annual renewals). As with Oklahoma’s business applications, its ballot initiative specified that applications be made available within 30 days of its passage, with submitted applications approved or specifically denied within 14 days.

While licensed out-of-state medical cannabis patients are not granted full reciprocity in Oklahoma, they may apply for a temporary (30-day) license. Last May, Oklahoma’s HB 3228 would have allowed out-of-state residents to apply for a 90-day license, but that was vetoed.

Any further loosening of restrictions for out-of-state residents could have massive implications for the market. In its geographically central location among the lower 48 states, Oklahoma might represent a cannatourism destination for millions of Americans from neighboring and other nearby states lacking legal cannabis markets. With the northern Texas cities of Dallas and Fort Worth, each less than a 90-minute drive from its border, Oklahoma could cater to a combined population of more than 2 million — more than 50% that of the state itself.

Newer markets are coming online faster, having learned from earlier markets

Each legal state market is unique offering lessons to operators and regulators about how various elements affect a market’s performance. Two decades ago, only theories existed about which factors might make for successful legal markets.

Now, there are 34 legal markets (i.e., 33 states plus the District of Columbia), each an experiment to learn from. Aided by those insights, newer markets are generally coming online and ramping up faster while avoiding some early regulatory pitfalls, whether they were product restrictions (in Pennsylvania), hurdles for physician participation (in New York), or exorbitant taxes pricing patients out of the market (in New Jersey).

For its part, Oklahoma has been an example of acting quickly while lowering barriers to entry. Legally mandated, two-week turnaround times on business and patient applications made available just weeks after legalization greatly expedited establishment of foundational elements for the state’s industry. Likewise, affordable and unlimited business licenses – along with no requirements of qualifying conditions – promoted broad participation in the state’s market from both its supply and demand sides. Furthermore, businesses have led coordinated efforts to raise awareness and facilitate access, culminating in arguably the most successful launch of any state medical market yet seen.