Energy decentralization in California and New York: Conflicts in the politics of shared solar and community choice
Hess, David J.
This study reviews the development of shared (community) solar and community choice aggregation in the U.S. states of California and New York. Both states are leaders in energy-transition policy in the U.S., but they have different trajectories for the two forms of energy decentralization. Shared solar is more advanced in New York, but community choice is more advanced in California. Using a field theory framework, the comparative review of the trajectories of energy decentralization shows how differences in restructuring and regulatory rules affect outcomes. Differences in the rules for retail competition and authority for utilities to own distributed generation assets, plus the role of civil society and the attention from elected officials, shape the intensity of conflict and outcomes. They also contribute to the development of different types of community choice in the two states. In addition to showing how institutional conditions associated with different types of restructured markets shape the opportunities for decentralized energy, the study also examines how the efforts of actors to gain support for and to legitimate their policy preferences involve reference to broad social values.