Acadia Center today released a study that quantifies the grid and societal benefits of solar photovoltaic systems (solar PV) in Rhode Island. Establishing the value of distributed resources is increasingly important as states explore ways to meet energy needs and deploy clean energy resources. Acadia Center has also released Value of Solar studies for Massachusetts and Connecticut, and Maine’s Public Utilities Commission recently completed a similar type of analysis to inform decision making processes in that state.
Acadia Center assessed the grid and societal value of six solar PV systems to better understand the overall value that solar PV provides to the grid. By evaluating an array of configurations, this analysis determines that the value of solar to the grid—and ratepayers connected to the grid—ranges from 19-25 cents/kWh, with additional societal values of 7 cents/kWh.
“Solar generation is a valuable local energy resource that provides significant benefits to ratepayers,” said Abigail Anthony, Director of Acadia Center’s Grid Modernization Initiative and Rhode Island Office. Solar PV provides unique value to the electric grid by reducing energy demand, providing power during peak periods, and avoiding generation and related emissions charges from conventional power plants. The overall grid value of solar is the sum total of these different benefits.
In addition to the value that solar provides to the grid, Acadia Center’s study finds that solar PV provides broader societal benefits, including environmental gains from reduced or avoided greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants. “Societal benefits should be included when assessing the overall costs and benefits of solar PV and determining additional incentives,” said Leslie Malone, Acadia Center Senior Analyst and an author of the report.
“The avoided costs and benefits add up and justify the compensation and incentives that solar PV receives through programs like the Renewable Energy Growth Program,” said Malone. Under the Renewable Energy Growth Program—which was launched in June 2015—National Grid will purchase electricity from eligible distributed generation projects in Rhode Island through a long-term contract at a guaranteed fixed price. Rhode Island also has retail rate net-metering for distributed generation, and the grid value alone supports this level of compensation.
In light of net-metering and in anticipation of the increasing amount of distributed generation in the electric system, the RI Public Utility Commission has opened a docket to assess distribution rate design and cost allocation. “We hope that having a better understanding of the value that solar provides to the grid and ratepayers will help inform this proceeding, which could be precedent-setting for other jurisdictions,” said Malone.
For more information and methodology see: https://acadiacenter.org/document/value-of-distributed-generation-solar-pv-in-ri
Leslie Malone, Senior Analyst
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