ORIGINAL REPORTING: Solar Surging, States Responding
As the solar industry matures, business gets a little more complicated; While solar got a much-needed boost when Congress extended the 30% ITC, state policy changes are slowing down growth in the residential market
Herman K. Trabish, October 6, 2016 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: Since this story ran, the new administration in Washington has provoked a completely new look at the role of states in the future of New Energy.
The solar industry is quickly maturing and moving with unprecedented speed into the mainstream energy world. But while business is getting better, it’s not getting any easier. Growth in the residential solar market continues to slow. Solar got a much-needed boost when Congress extended the 30% investment tax credit (ITC) at the end of 2015, but state-level policy changes are impeding the market. Reducing solar’s net energy metering (NEM) and other incentives have damaged thriving solar markets like Hawaii and Nevada. California policy changes are fundamental to the slowed growth, setting the stage for potential implications as similar policy changes continue to be debated in many other states.
California’s eventual transition to time-of-use rates as part of its NEM 2.0 proceeding is one major policy change. Explaining how rates can vary by times of the day and how they will affect the return on new systems complicate the rooftop solar sales discussion with homeowners. Such complications also make it difficult to set the right price for loans and leases. “The more there has to be policy in the sales pitch to the homeowner, the more complicated it becomes," said GTM Research Senior Solar Analyst Cory Honeyman. Complications could be harder to overcome if potential new customers are no longer the more easily convinced early adopters, Honeyman added. The addressable market in sunny California is still big but the “low hanging fruit” may have already been picked… click here for more