Last week a new report anticipated that the solar industry will grow nearly $120 billion by 2018. Part of that might be because of China’s decision to dramatically increase it’s use of solar domestically. But in the states net-metering policies are facing some challenges. Those are among last week’s leading solar news.
First off, a new report from ResearchMoz anticipates that the solar industry will grow to $118 billion in 2017. That’s more than four times what it was in 2010, making it one of the fastest growing industries in the world. The new report contributes the skyrocketing in the industry to surge in production which has led to dramatic PV price drops. Both of which have led to many more people going solar.
Meanwhile in the U.S., solar net-metering is coming under attack, particularly in Arizona, where the state’s largest utility, APS, recently filed with the Arizona Corporate Commission to reduce its net-metering rates. Since it made the filing, however, at least two organizations have introduced TV ads against net-metering that may be tied back to the utility. All three organizations, APS, Prosper and 60 Plus, have ties to the same consultant, Sean Noble. Noble has also been accused of funneling money from companies to campaigns in California, and is under investigation there.
Since utility companies like APS are worried about solar’s impact on their bottom line—particularly distributed solar, since they’re making suppliers out of customers, the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) introduced a primer last week to discuss net-metering in a constructive way for all players. Hopefully the primer can help more states enact good net metering policies in a way benefits all players, home and business owners as well as utility companies.
Long Island’s Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) is bucking that trend however. It recently announced its CLEAN Solar Initiative-II (CSI-11), which will provide a feed-in tariff for 100 megawatts of solar projects between 100 kilowatts and 2 megawatts. The FiT will offer a premium price for PV power. While the 100 kilowatt threshold is much more than most homes can have on their rooftops it still represents an approach that supports distributed generation. LIPA also supports solar with other programs and is planning to issue requests for proposal for another 300 megawatts of renewable energy.
Last week the Senate finally confirmed Gina McCarthy as the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which could help increase interest in solar among utilities. McCarthy was assistant administrator of the and was appointed by Obama to lead the agency in March, but her nomination wasn’t confirmed because Republicans in the Senate fought against her.