Solar Energy News | Clean Energy News Sun, 29 Nov 2015 00:25:47 -0500 en-gb ( Utah PSC decision could squash rooftop solar in the state Utah was just another state where utility companies were fighting net metering regulations that support strong rooftop solar growth. Not anymore.

The Utah Public Service Commission ruled this week to measure the cost to utilities of net metering programs without weighing at all their benefits.

]]> (Amanda H. Miller) Solar Energy News Fri, 13 Nov 2015 18:25:36 -0500
Ballot initiative could help Sunshine State live up to its name The boldest rooftop solar ballot measure in the country was just green-lighted in one of the most unlikely states in the nation.

The sunshine state has hardly lived up to its name as the rooftop solar industry has blossomed and boomed all over the country, leaving Florida and its conservative southern neighbors in the dusky shadows.

]]> (Amanda H. Miller) Solar Energy News Thu, 05 Nov 2015 23:38:07 -0500
Solar Decathlon showcases amazing net-zero homes The world’s most innovative, livable, energy efficient homes of the future are on display in the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, Calif. this week.

The homes are the creations of teams of talented and dedicated college students from around the globe. The Solar Decathlon, sponsored by the US Department of Energy every other year since 2002, challenges teams of students to create homes that produce as much energy as they use while boasting beauty, functionality and mass market appeal. Teams are judged on 10 criteria – architecture, market appeal, engineering, communications, affordability, comfort, appliance efficiency, home life (livability), commuting (EV charging) and energy balance. All of the homes are outfitted with rooftop solar arrays.

]]> (Amanda H. Miller) Solar Energy News Wed, 14 Oct 2015 17:06:00 -0400
APS backs down from battle for new solar fees Arizona’s largest utility company has withdrawn its request for the state’s regulators to consider substantial new fees for solar customers.

The withdrawal – or rather the delay – comes on the heels of dramatic political battles and accusations of bias among the Arizona Corporations Commissioners.

Arizona Public Service, the utility company, proposed a new fee that would add $21 to the average monthly bill of its customers with rooftop solar installations. The commission approved a $5 fee in late 2013. This new proposal was meant to be a rematch that would have wrapped up just in time for the commission to begin hearing the utility’s rate case. The rate case is expected to include another proposed connection fee for solar customers and to take another year of hearing to decide.

]]> (Amanda H. Miller) Solar Energy News Mon, 05 Oct 2015 22:20:16 -0400
Will CA utilities blow out the solar flame or feed it? Could the utility war on solar be so catastrophically timed as to spur mass grid defection?

If California utilities had proposed slashing net metering benefits in half and tacking on an $18 monthly connection fee for solar customers three years ago, it might have stifled the growing industry. Instead, the proposal to the California regulators is timed to coincide with the release of the Tesla Powerwall.

]]> (Amanda H. Miller) Solar Energy News Thu, 01 Oct 2015 03:32:00 -0400
CA energy policy boosts solar even with rooftop exclusion California’s new energy policy will ensure the sun keeps shining on the state’s solar industry even if it’s not likely to benefit the residential rooftop market.

The new energy policy passed by California legislators last week and waiting for a signature from Governor Jerry Brown, will require utilities to get 50 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2030 and for building owners to double the efficiency of their properties by the same time.

The bill, which passed 51 to 26 in the Senate and 26 to 14 in the House, was not without controversy. The version that passed lacked some of the most aggressive measures included in the original proposal, such as increased fuel efficiency requirements for vehicles.

Solar advocates were disappointed that legislation won’t count rooftop solar toward utility goals. It means many of the incentives likely to emerge from utility companies following Brown’s signature won’t help to bolster that sector of the solar industry.

Of course, since well more than half of all solar installations in the state are already rooftop solar, excluding residential installations from the count also means utilities will have to invest more.

The legislation is expected to spur $8.6 billion in private investment in the state. From utility companies to real estate owners and developers, there will be a slew of new green economy jobs sprouting from required projects.  

While the mandates set goals, utility companies and building owners have the freedom to choose how they will meet those goals, which could spawn some creative and cost-saving solutions.

The benefit to the local new energy economy could exceed $10 billion, according to estimates from the California Solar Energy Industries Association, which heavily supported the initiative even though it excluded rooftop solar from the count.

“This is a huge win,” said Sean Gallagher, vice president of state affairs for California SEIA. The organization is still hopeful rooftop solar will get a piece of the pie. That remains to be seen when California regulators consider rules later this year about how residential and small business solar is sold back onto the grid.

Regardless, increased investment in clean energy and energy efficiency will create a culture even more conducive to solar installations than the already exists in the state with more installed solar capacity than any other.

]]> (Amanda H. Miller) Solar Energy News Tue, 15 Sep 2015 20:59:35 -0400
Rooftop solar pushes solar capacity to new high Solar power surpassed 20 gigawatts of installed capacity in the United States during the second quarter of 2015 – thanks, in large part, to residential rooftop solar installations.

And that capacity could almost double again in the next year, according to a recently released report from the Solar Energy Industries Association. SEIA projects an additional 18 gigawatts of solar will be installed by the end of 2016. A huge portion of that will be small rooftop solar projects.

]]> (Amanda H. Miller) Solar Energy News Thu, 10 Sep 2015 12:32:52 -0400
Rooftop solar to surge with new financing options For the first time ever, residential rooftop solar installations outpaced non-residential solar in the US in 2014. That’s thanks, in large part, to more and more creative financing options for homeowners who want to generate their own electricity, according to a report from GTM Research.

The solar industry surged in 2012 and 2013 thanks to the new third-party ownership model that allowed homeowners to install solar with no or very little money out of pocket. Companies like SolarCity and Sunrun spurred that sector of industry growth. In 2014, that model is still dominating the solar scene with 72 percent of all new rooftop solar projects in stalled in 2014 being third-party owned.

]]> (Amanda H. Miller) Solar Energy News Mon, 31 Aug 2015 17:22:39 -0400
"Plonkable" CSP could change future energy consumption If you know what concentrated solar power plants are at all, you’re probably picturing a massive falice in the desert surrounded by a circular harem of mirrors. That’s not the kind of thing you could plunk down in your back yard for round-the-clock solar power – even if you could afford it.

But a group of South African researchers have announced a breakthrough on the road to “plonkable” CSP. The Solar Thermal Research Group at Stellenbosch University, headed by Paul Gouche, is experimenting with a new technology that makes CSP infinitely more accessible and, in the long term, more affordable.

]]> (Amanda H. Miller) Solar Energy News Tue, 25 Aug 2015 17:22:25 -0400
Solar v Utility battle resumes in Arizona After a year’s hiatus, the fight between Arizona’s biggest utility company and the state’s solar industry is in full swing again.

The Arizona Corporation Commission voted 3 to 2 this week to set a hearing on proposed rate hikes for solar customers of Arizona Public Service, the state’s biggest publically-traded utility company.

]]> (Amanda H. Miller) Solar Energy News Fri, 21 Aug 2015 05:14:48 -0400
Mass Gov's proposed solar legislation has pluses and minuses While Massachusetts boasts one of the strongest solar industries in the country – thanks in large part to good state policies – looming net metering caps could kill rooftop solar in the state if they’re not raised.

Legislators and Gov. Charlie Baker understand that all too well. The senate passed legislation in July to raise net metering caps. And the governor filed a bill to do the same last week. While solar advocates applaud the efforts, they also criticize the governor’s proposal as short sighted.


]]> (Amanda H. Miller) Solar Energy News Wed, 12 Aug 2015 22:07:35 -0400
California PUC considering the future of rooftop solar The California Public Utilities Commission received dozens of proposals from the state’s publicly-traded utility companies Monday night offering a glimpse into the future of rooftop solar in the state.

State legislation passed in late 2013 tasked the commission with revamping utility regulations regarding residential utility bills and solar tariffs. The legislation dictates that the PUC prioritize continued rooftop solar industry growth while aligning solar costs and benefits.

]]> (Amanda H. Miller) Solar Energy News Tue, 04 Aug 2015 17:55:16 -0400
Alabama Power's 500 MW of solar could brighten dim state While you might be able to count 500 megawatts of solar energy generation on residential rooftops in a single small California town, an Alabama utility’s proposal to add that much solar capacity is making big headlines.

Alabama Power proposed to the state’s public utilities commission earlier this month to build or contract to buy 500 megawatts of renewable energy.

]]> (Amanda H. Miller) Solar Energy News Wed, 29 Jul 2015 16:12:00 -0400
California decision means rooftop solar owners have choices A new California regulation that allows companies to package energy from small producers and sell it on the wholesale market is good news for the long-term viability of rooftop solar.

As utilities push back against paying the full retail rate for the power solar customers feed onto the grid, some expect the popularity of rooftop solar to wane. News outlets this week have noted that the meteoric rise of rooftop solar could slow when the 30 percent national investment tax credit declines in 2016 and as utilities reduce net metering payments.

]]> (Amanda H. Miller) Solar Energy News Wed, 29 Jul 2015 19:57:31 -0400