The Paris Agreement – a result of the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, COP21 – establishes a long term, global framework to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. This global framework builds on the participation of 187 countries that submitted post-2020 climate action targets to keep global temperature rise less than 2°C and to pursue efforts to limit temperature increase to 1.5°C.

All countries will publically share climate targets every five years, starting in 2020. Targets must be submitted 9 to12 months before they are finalized, creating time for other countries and civil society to seek clarity about the targets submitted. In addition to achieving climate objectives the plan intends to create new jobs, raise standards of living, and lift millions out of poverty. www.whitehouse.gov

Solar tax extension approved

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, signed in December 2015, extends the expiration date of the Business Energy Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for photovoltaic (PV) and solar thermal technologies and introduces a gradual step down in the credit value for these technologies.

Established by The Energy Policy Act of 2005, the federal tax credit initially applied to solar-electric systems, solar water heating systems, and fuel cells. The Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008 extended the tax credit to small wind-energy systems and geothermal heat pumps.

Solar-electric, solar water-heat credits

  • 30% for systems put in service by Dec. 30, 2019
  • 26% for systems placed in service after Dec. 30, 2019, before Jan. 1, 2021
  • 22% for systems placed in service after Dec. 31, 2010, before Jan. 1, 2022
  • Equipment must be certified for performance by the Solar Rating Certification Corp. (SRCC) or a comparable entity endorsed by the government of the state in which the property is installed
  • At least half the energy used to heat the dwelling’s water must be from solar
  • Does not apply to solar water-heating for swimming pools or hot tubs www.energy.gov
Solar financial credit extension in California

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) proposed a successor program to the Net Energy Metering (NEM) program which allows a customer-generator, such as those who have installed solar photovoltaics (PV), to receive a financial credit for power generated by their on-site system and fed back to the utility.

The proposed decision would continue the existing NEM structure while making adjustments to align the costs of NEM successor customers closer with non-NEM customers.

New programs are established to drive renewable distributed generation among residential customers in disadvantaged communities. One program would provide financial incentives to install solar photovoltaic systems, the second would allow customers to participate in NEM even if they aren’t able to install a renewable energy system on their premises.

The new program would take effect for new customers after existing program participation caps are met, or by July 1, 2017. The proposed decision was scheduled for Jan. 28, 2016. The proposal is available at http://goo.gl/BPhY45. www.energy.gov