ORIGINAL REPORTING: Big Utilities Like Solar’s Future
Top 10 solar utilities see growth through declining prices, favorable policies; SCE, PG&E and Duke took home top honors for the most solar capacity deployed by utilities in 2015
Herman K. Trabish, April 28, 2016 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: This trend has been driven by economics and state level policies and will not likely be undone.
Utility-scale solar boomed in 2015, deploying a record-setting 4 GW of capacity throughout the year, over half of the 7.3 GW of solar that came online. That growth is expected to continue into the 2020s, especially after the extension of the 30% investment tax credit for solar at the end of the year. As the market continues to expand, the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) recognized two lists of top ten utilities: One for total installed solar capacity and one for installed watts of solar per customer. Southern California Edison (SCE) appeared to hit the sweet spot of favorable policies and declining costs as the investor-owned utility took the No. 1 spot on the list of overall solar deployment, knocking out fellow California IOU Pacific Gas and Electric for the first time in the six years since SEPA has done the survey.
Other major policy drivers were the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) and state solar incentive policies such as net energy metering reforms, that lower remuneration to solar owners for the electricity their systems send to the grid, and state policy-designed community solar programs. Changes to NEM that compromise the solar value proposition would affect the residential solar sector most. It could also drive more utility customers to community solar. The spread of the utility-scale solar market beyond the Southwestern states makes it increasingly clear utilities are not backing away from solar. States like Utah, Colorado, and Texas now have between 200 MW and 999 MW of solar and Indiana and Tennessee have between 50 MW and 199 MW… click here for more