The Sun is Rising on a New Era for the DOER SREC Program

Important changes are coming for the Massachusetts DOER Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SREC) program.  As expected, the DOER is in the process of shifting from the existing SREC-I regulations to a new phase suitably called SREC-II.  A final policy design of the new SREC-II program was released on December 13, 2013.  The DOER Commissioner has released some highlights.  These changes are described in greater detail on the SRECTrade website.

What Changes are Expected?

Most importantly, the Patrick-Murray Administration has revised its cumulative installed solar power capacity goal from 400 MW to 1,600 MW by 2020.  Currently, just under 400 MW of solar power have been installed since the inception of the program.

SREC rates will vary depending upon project size and other considerations – this will allow smaller projects to receive more SRECs on a per MWhr basis than larger projects.  The SREC factor will range from 1 SREC per MWhr produced for residential and community scaled projects to 0.8 SREC per MWhr for larger landfill or brownfield sites.  The SREC factor for certain atypical projects that do not meet specific Market Sector criteria could drop as low as 0.7.

Solar Credit Clearinghouse Auction (SCCA) prices and Alternative Compliance Payment (ACP) rates will continue to decline over the next 10 years with the SCCA price dropping from $300 to $199/MWhr and the ACP rate declining from $375 to $257/MWhr.  The SCCA is the Massachusetts market’s floor value established on a yearly basis for the semi-annual SREC clearinghouse auctions.  The ACP is the SREC compliance rate established on a yearly basis for electricity producers who do not purchase required SRECs from providers in order to maintain their energy portfolio requirements.

Other changes that are anticipated include a provision for no forward SREC minting for residential properties.  Previously, the DOER allowed residential projects to create or bank up to 10 years worth of SRECs from the onset of the project.  Also, no competitive SREC factor adjustments will be allowed for larger scale projects.  All assigned SREC factors will remain fixed.  Finally, the Grant Program for Directly Owned Residential Facilities will remain in place.  The original August 2013 SREC-II draft did not allow for a continuation of this grant program.  However, the program has survived the cut and will continue to allow for residential owners with 3rd party leasing or PPAs to move towards system ownership.

So What Does this All Mean?

Although changes to the SREC program have been anticipated for some time, these changes will ensure that the Massachusetts SREC program will remain among the nation’s best and at the forefront of the global push for greener, healthier energy.  Expanding the goal solar power installed in Massachusetts from 400 MW to 1,600 MW by 2020 will only stabilize SREC values and rates moving forward. Now that that Final Design document has been released, a public hearing and comment period will follow.  The DOER anticipates that SREC-II will become effective by the end of the first quarter of the year.

Tower School Solar PV Production Exceeding Expectations

Tower School PV Array

Electricity produced from Solar PV is the whole point of installing the solar panels, right? What can you do to maximize the production from your small commercial or residential PV system? Maybe you should talk to Achieve about designing your system with micro-inverters. The Tower School solar array went live in August of 2012 and we now have performance data for the first year. Achieve built this 25 kW Solar PV system with individual Enphase Micro-inverters for each of the 105 solar panels. The micro-inverters are designed to minimize impact due to shading. Micro-inverters also allow each solar panel to start producing electricity at the first sign of morning light. This maximizes solar PV production. Having each solar panel independent has great advantages over more common central inverters. Central inverters that connect solar panels like strings of old-style Christmas Tree lights — if one has a problem they all have a problem. Using standard industry software, the Tower School array was predicted to produce 28 mega-watt hours per year. In the first year, Tower School produced 32 MWh. That is over 14% more than predicted. Tower benefited with the extra 4,000 kWh produced and with an extra 4 Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs). That’s about $1,550 in extra cash due to increased solar PV production. Was it the micro-inverters? Hard to say for sure. We do know using micro-inverters make monitoring and troubleshooting a breeze. The graph below shows solar PV production predicted for the Tower School array and the actual production. Not every month exceeded the predicted output. The lower winter half of the year (October to March) had several months with lower than predicted PV production. All of the summer half of the year (April to September) had higher output.

Chart showing monthly Actual and Predicted Solar PV Production at Tower School