Solar Energy Boot Camp

8/30/2016
Aug. 24-25, 2016 | Denver

Solar panels.The Solar Energy Boot Camp provided attendees with tools to evaluate the state solar energy landscapes and the opportunity to gain an understanding of emerging policy developments. In collaboration with the National Association of State Energy Officials, NCSL brought together legislators, legislative staff and state energy officials for this two-day meeting that explored a number of important topics including: solar technology and recent growth, solar market potential, tools for valuing solar energy, community and shared solar models, solar integration and energy storage. Attendees also toured the Solar Technology Acceleration Center, a world-class test facility where the solar industry researches, tests, validates and demonstrates solar technologies.  This meeting occurred Aug. 24-25, 2016, in Denver, Colo. 

Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016 

Solar Outlook

The solar landscape is changing rapidly due to falling prices, consumer demand and market dynamics. Solar technology, hardware and soft costs, and market opportunities are also shifting. The session explored these changes and investigated the state and federal solar policy environment, including tax credits, renewable portfolio standards and emissions reduction policies.

Speakers

  • Sean Gallagher, vice president, State Affairs, Solar Energy Industries Association | Presentation
  • John Sterling, senior director, Research and Advisory Services, Smart Electric Power Alliance | Presentation

Valuing Solar Energy

Debates on the costs and benefits of solar energy are active in states across the nation. A number of legislatures and utility commissions are investigating how the contributions of distributed solar energy should be valued and how producers should be compensated. This session discussed approaches to assessing the compensation for solar electricity producers, ratemaking processes, net metering, and next generation distributed energy valuation policies.

Speakers

  • Andrew Mills, staff research associate, Electricity Markets and Policy Group, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | Presentation
  • Christopher Villarreal, director of policy, Minnesota Public Utility Commission | Presentation

​Community and Shared Solar Models

A growing number of states have adopted models for “community” solar energy projects, which allow new demographics to benefit from solar energy. This session explored state policy approaches to community solar and virtual or community net metering, as well programs for low-income consumers.

Speakers

  • Jason Coughlin, project leader, Market Partnerships and Tools Group, National Renewable Energy Laboratory | Presentation
  • Joe Pereira, director of low-income energy services, Colorado Energy Office | Presentation

Solar Integration and Storage

Technological advances have allowed utilities to integrate larger quantities of solar onto the electric grid but concerns remain about balancing variability and the impacts to the distribution grid. This session explored technologies and utility practices that can ease solar energy integration challenges, and a discussion was held about the impacts of energy storage, resiliency and microgrids.

Speakers

  • Seth Mullendore, project director, Clean Energy Group | Presentation
  • Ryan Matley, product development Team Lead, Xcel Energy | Presentation

Tour

NASEO and NCSL attendees toured the Solar Technology Acceleration Center.

Solar group tour photo.

Speaker

  • Al Choi, manager, Emerging Technology R&D, Xcel Energy | Presentation

Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016

Increasing Access to Solar

Affordability is playing a major role in the adoption of solar power. This session explored the role of financing, third-party entities on residential and community solar policies. Consumer protection concerns and low-income considerations were also included in the discussion.

Speakers

  • Mike Mendelsohn, senior director, Project Finance and Capital Markets, Solar Energy Industries Association | Presentation
  • Joe Pereira, director, Low-Income Energy Services, Colorado Energy Office | Presentation
  • Sara Baldwin Auck, director, Regulatory Program, Interstate Renewable Energy Council | Presentation

Lowering Soft Costs

This session explored opportunities for legislatures and state energy offices to facilitate greater adoption of solar energy by decreasing siting, permitting and “soft cost” barriers. Workforce development was also discussed.

Speakers

  • David Rench McCauley, senior program associate, U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative | Presentation
  • Kristen Ardani, project leader, Market Partnerships and Tools Group, National Renewable Energy Laboratory | Presentation

The Utility of the Future

New technologies, declining growth in electricity consumption and the expansion of distributed generation is driving discussions in legislatures and utility commissions across the country. How will utilities remain profitable and serve their customers’ changing wants and needs in this new environment?  This session included a broad discussion on this topic and explored solar energy’s role in this transformation.

Speakers

  • John Shenot, senior associate, the Regulatory Assistance Project | Presentation
  • Ed Comer, vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary, Edison Electric Institute | Presentation
  • John Sterling, senior director, Research and Advisory Services, Smart Electric Power Alliance | Presentation