Energy Policy Program
The N.C. Solar Center’s Energy Policy Program conducts research and analysis to provide a better understanding of how renewables and energy efficiency are best promoted through public policy.
Financial incentives and regulatory policies are important components of a strong market for renewable energy and energy efficiency. However, the availability of incentives and policies that encourage renewables and energy efficiency varies tremendously across U.S. states and utilities. DSIRE – the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency – serves as the nation’s most comprehensive source of information on financial incentives and policies that promote renewables and energy efficiency at the federal, state, local and utility levels. This public resource, which includes summaries of more than 2,600 incentives and policies, is used by around 180,000 different people each month. Established in 1995, DSIRE is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.
At the request of private clients, the N.C. Solar Center has developed several customized research and data services. These include:
- Customized DSIRE data feeds
- Customized DSIRE RSS feeds
- State legislation tracking reports
- Customized policy and market research
The N.C. Solar Center is part of a broader partnership that will implement a five-year, $10 million technical outreach effort for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar America Communities program. This partnership will conduct outreach to thousands of local governments across the United States, sharing best practices for increasing the use of solar energy in and by communities. The International City/County Management Association (ICMA) and ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability USA were competitively selected by the U.S. Department of Energy to conduct technical outreach to local governments across the United States, enabling them to replicate successful solar practices and quickly expand local adoption of solar energy. The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC), the N.C. Carolina Solar Center, Solar Electric Power Association, The Solar Foundation, and The Meister Group are members of the ICLEI team, while the American Planning Association, the National Association of Regional Councils and several independent consultants round out the ICMA team.
Other Policy Research Projects
The N.C. Solar Center’s Energy Policy Program also collaborates with other organizations on related policy research efforts. The Power through Policy project included an assessment of best practices to promote distributed wind energy in the United States in partnership with eFormative Options, LLC, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Learn more about this project.
In partnership with IREC, policy analyst Justin Barnes lead an analysis of net metering in the United States with competitive electricity markets. In regulated states, net metering is a fairly straightforward process, involving a transaction between a utility and customer. In complex competitive markets, however, retail choice providers and distribution utilities must communicate in order to provide net metering for their customers. The final report (published in December 2010) aims to provide clarification on how net metering works in these complex environments. Download the report