To learn about these changes, join us for the next Wednesday Webinar! We'll talk about the extension of the Federal Investment Tax Credit, the status of SRECs in Virginia, and we'll share some news about community solar.
2021 is looking bright for a lot of reasons. As we look to the year ahead, we're feeling hopeful about the future of renewable energy, about the solar industry's ability to help get the country back on its feet with good paying jobs, and ultimately, about our children's future as the fight against climate change ramps up with a new administration.
Build Back Better
On the federal level, President-Elect Joe Biden's plan to Build Back Better has gotten a head start from the Covid-19 relief bill. The bill includes many provisions that will lift up renewable energy, its infratructure, and its workers. Our favorite is of course the extension of the 26% federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC), but the bill also includes an extra year for the wind production tax credit, and the creation of an offshore wind tax credit with a five year phasedown.
These tax credits are huge drivers for job growth, and are a critical part of the Build Back Better philosophy. In fact, the solar ITC alone has created hundreds of thousands of jobs and invested billions of dollars into the US economy. According to the Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA), the ITC has helped the solar industry see an average annual growth of 52% since 2006. And in the five-year period between 2014 and 2019, solar employment increased 44%, five times faster than job growth in the overall U.S. economy.
The bill also contains some big steps toward reducing emissions. Among them is a 15-year phase-down of hydrofluorocarbons, which an analysis by the Rhodium Group says will cut emissions equivalent to 900 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, more than the total annual emissions in Germany.
Changes for Solar in VA
On the state level, 2021 brings some great changes with the introduction of a market for solar renewable energy credits (SRECs) in Virginia, as well as the possibility of community solar coming to the Commonwealth this spring.
The passage of the Virginia Clean Economy Act, the Solar Freedom Act, and the Shared Solar bill last July paved the way for these programs, and the VA State Corporation Commission (SCC) has now finished its rulemaking to finalize the details. The programs officially started on January 1st, but there are still a few hoops to jump through before they will be functioning.
Community Solar in VA
The recently released SCC order for Shared Solar (Delegate Jay Jones) creates a working group to determine the "minimum bill" for shared solar customers. The shared solar program is true community solar, which will allow three or more subscribers to sign up to get their power from solar, no matter where it is sited.
The Multi-Family Solar program (Delegate Mark Keam) is focused on multi-family buildings, like apartments and duplexes. It doesn't have a minimum bill, but instead an administrative fee, which the SCC will set. The bill credit rate (the amount customer will be charged) for Multi-Family will also be published soon by the SCC, based on "publicly available data."
Solar companies can register to participate in either program starting June 1.
We'll talk about the details of these programs, and much more, at our webinar tomorrow—Wednesday the 6th at 12pm. Hope you'll join us!