Community Renewables Model Program Rules

IREC's Model Program Rules for Community Renewables are focsed on best practices and are presented to facilitate co-investment in local renewable power facilities. The Model Rules consider many of the basic issues facing community renewables programs. These include: renewable system size, interconnection, eligibility for participation, allocation of the benefits flowing from participation, and net metering of system production. IREC developed the these Model Rules working closely with The Vote Solar Initiative, a California-based not-for-profit working to bring solar energy into the mainstream.

Two key principles greatly influenced the development of the Model Rules, and IREC’s consideration of the various policy choices available in designing a community renewables program:

1.     Participants in a community renewables program should have an experience that is as similar as possible to that of customers investing in on-site renewable energy; and

2.     Community renewables programs should not undermine successful on-site renewable energy programs. Rather, they should expand options for participation.

The Model Rules incorporate comments from diverse stakeholders, including utilities, industry participants and other stakeholders, as well as information from community renewables efforts at the municipal and state levels in Massachusetts, Colorado, California, Washington and Utah.

Some highlights from the 2010 Model Program Rules for Community Renewables include:

  • Using virtual net metering (VNM) to allocate benefits of participation onto a customer’s monthly electric bill;
  • Allowing kWhs generated by a community renewables project be given a monetary value that can be applied to a participant’s bill;
  • Valuing kWh credits received by customers who are on the same distribution circuit as the community renewables project at the participant’s full retail rate;
  • Requiring utilities to include system purchase costs, operations and maintenance, necessary investment returns and other costs related to a utility-owned system in their offerings to potential participants; and
  • Allowing utilities to administer a community renewables program.

The Model Rules also include definitions, general provisions and net metering provisions.