Show Me the Numbers: A Framework for Balanced Distributed Solar Policies

Consumers Union
Project completed 2016

Jurisdictions across the country are grappling with the challenges and opportunities associated with rapidly increasing adoption of distributed solar resources. While distributed solar can provide many benefits – such as increased customer choice, decreased emissions, and decreased utility system costs – in some circumstances it may result in increased bills for non-solar customers. Utility regulators and state policy-makers face the difficult task of striking a balance between ensuring that cost-effective clean energy resources continue to be developed, and avoiding unreasonable rate and bill impacts for non-solar customers.

This report, prepared by Synapse for Consumers Union, provides a framework for helping decision-makers analyze distributed solar policy options comprehensively and concretely. This framework is grounded in addressing the three key questions that regulators should ask regarding any potential distributed solar policy:

  • How will the policy affect the development of distributed solar?
  • How cost-effective are distributed solar resources?
  • To what extent does the policy mitigate or exacerbate any cost shifting to non-solar customers?

Answering these questions will enable decision-makers to determine which policy options best balance the protection of customers with the promotion of cost-effective distributed solar resources.

For more on this project, read the press release and Medium post from Consumers Union.