Environment Committee, Staff and stakeholders:
It was an honor to present to you at Wednesday’s hearing on HB1105.
And I thank you for the opportunity to submit recommendations in
writing. Bottom line is that our State incentive program which has
already created many Washington State jobs is has the potential to
be truly GREAT. The Community Solar element could be a model
program for others and ignite positive public-private partnerships
that leverage citizen investment to make capital improvements on
taxpayer owned facilities in every district in Washington State.
It is a win/win/win/…
- a Win for communities, rewarded for collaborating to be part
of a clean energy solution
- a Win for local governments that host quality renewable energy
systems and save on their power bill for decades
- a Win for WA State workers through job creation for installers
and producers and the ripples that radiate
- a Win for WA State equipment producers as it creates momentum
and enough security in the market to establish themselves and
develop products competitive across the globe
- a Win for the State economy and State budget with increased
- and a Win for the environment and climate.
- and it should be an easy Win in the Washington State
Legislature with everyone creating benefit to constituents
without incurring further costs.*
But, to be truly GREAT, we must shake off the complicating elements
which have become painfully apparent in the last three years.
Remember: K.I.S.S. – keep it stupid simple. The secret is to
making this FANTASTIC is to simplify, simplify, simplify. (HB 1301
violates this law of success and will likely raise more problems
than it solves.)
The below recommendations are the result of multiple stakeholder
meetings and dozens of hours of interviews. As you might have been
able to tell by the testimonies, we are all (utilities, installers,
producers, municipal hosts, and community activists are cheering for
you to make it easier for us to do good things across the State.
In collaboration for the public good,
* As the funding for this incentive was allocated when the law was
created, the only fiscal note is currently exclusively for staff
time at Dept. of Commerce or Washington Housing Finance Commission.
Won’t there be saving at Dept of Revenue to reallocate? Beyond
that, there should not be a fiscal note required as changes are
merely making the funds already accessible by pruning a tangled
These are the basic amendments I suggest For
Top Tier Amendments:
- As HB 1105 expands eligible properties to include tribal
properties, please amend to include all properties owned by
tax-payers such as community colleges and city buildings
in municipalities that have their own utilities
- Amend HB 1105 so that in order to qualify for the highest
incentive program, an automatic transfer of ownership to public
host is required. [This should help ensure public benefit from
public incentive, help reduce DFI involvement, decrease
operating costs like lease/rent/insurance and administration for
the community solar organizers].
- PLEASE make simple amendment that the $5000 (Or whatever
amount you decide upon – as it may make sense to increase it for
some aspects of the program to $10,000 or more) cap on
incentives is per person, yer year, PER PROJECT
(Not program wide). This will eliminate a source of much
confusion at DOR and uncompensated and unnecessary burden on
utilities which have been forced into tracking system wide
participation – which is impossible for them and thus has
resulted consequentially in unnecessary limits on who can
participate in projects to only those who are that utility’s
electrical customers. This amendment should fix that issue.
- 5/25/70 % allocation of incentive pool is problematic because
LLC limit is squelching participation while the utility portion
is under utilized. Consider fixes to that ratio, perhaps
lumping utility and company owned together for a 30/70 split.
- PLEASE REMOVE “owner and” and the mentions of “other” from
the definition of “Administrator so that a non-owners, such as a
nonprofit organizations, community associations, and community
organizers can server as an “administrator” without being an
“owner.” [This was especially a problem when it was required
that all owners be account holders at the utility within whose
service area they were organizing. Many nonprofits rent office
space, not do not have an account with the utility. It is
another example of where DOR was making rulings, and then
exceptions, then exclusions trying to interpret words in the law
that were relatively arbitrary.]
Sec. 1, (1)
“Administrator” means an owner and assignee
of a community solar project as defined in subsection
(2)(a)(i) of this section that is responsible for applying for
the investment cost recovery incentive on behalf of the other
owners and performing such administrative tasks on behalf of
the other owners as may be necessary, such
as receiving investment cost recovery incentive payments, and
allocating and paying appropriate amounts of such payments to
the other owners.
Secondary amendments to consider:
Consider removing this sentence from the definition of “Customer
Generated Electricity”: Except for community solar projects, a
system located on a leasehold interest does not qualify under
this definition. The reason being is that this excludes
small business owners with long-terms leases who may want to
install a PV system (e.g. contractors, restaurants, etc.) from
getting production incentives, since they do not own the building.
I believe HB1301 Sec. 3 (2) (b) remedies this by simply requiring
that the customer have an existing meter/account with the utility.
Note that this has nothing to do with “solar leasing” – it
would still require the utility customer to own their own system.
need to extend the current program so as to keep the industry from
going in to a coma until the new program takes effect. If this
passes as-is, most if not all PV customers will want to hold off
on buying a system until the new program takes effects. Possible
solutions are changing the date from 2020 to 2023, or allowing
customers who enrolled in 2012 or 2013 to re-apply for the new
In regards to HB 1301:
Please let me know If you end up needing input on HB 1301, the
below is a beginning, but I am compiling other input from
stakeholders, which includes making changes to Phase 2 that are
not listed below
for HB1301 in order to:
- Keep community
organizers, organizations, and associations engaged as
administrators and organizers of competitive projects into
Phase 2 AND the Green Jobs Competitive Pool phase.
- Remove the
obligation of utilities to track participation and incentive
cap across the State
- Allow for
weighing community benefit as criteria to be considered
- Remove confusing
and potentially problematic and arbitrary language from the
definition of “Administrator”
Do we have
assurances from DFI that the 10 year contract, or other
community-based projects from extensive legal costs to
satisfy DFI requirements?
- Allowing broad
participation in community projects without limiting
participation to “qualified investors,” i.e. millionaires?
- Do not require
onerous non-profit and other claims of exemption that limit
investors to “members only”?
PLEASE ADD: “PER PROJECT” AS SEEN BELOW
Section 2, #6a
(6)(a) No individual, household, business, or local 38
governmental entity is eligible for incentives provided
under…for more than five thousand dollars per year, PER
PLEASE ADD At Section 4, #3, Please add (vi) The
degree to which the installation of the system promises public
benefit through savings on power costs paid with taxpayer
money over the life of the system.
A. Will the system will be located on a public property?
B Will ownership of the system will be transferred to the
public host ownership at the end of the incentive period?
C. Will ownership be transferred by sale or donation?
Sec. 4, #3c. PLEASE ADD (+/-) (IF you are going to
prioritize the considerations, then please prioritize public
benefit by inserting these considerations at the highest level:
i. Whether the system will be located on a public property.
ii. If “yes” on (i), whether ownership of the system will be
transferred to the public host ownership at the end of the
iii. If “yes” on (i) and (ii) by what means that ownership will
be transferred, i.e. sale or donation.
Sec. 6 #1 PLEASE REMOVE “and owner” and the 2 mentions of
“other” from the definition of “Administrator so that a
non-owners, such as a nonprofit organizations, community
associations, and community organizers can server as an
“administrator” without being an “owner.” [This was especially
a problem when it was required that all owners be account
holders at the utility within whose service area they were
organizing. Many nonprofits rent office space, not do not have
an account with the utility. It is another example of where DOR
was making rulings, and then exceptions, then exclusions trying
to interpret words in the law that were relatively arbitrary.]