Others in the audience pointed out that this mechanism has had some flaws in states like Pennsylvania, and even in New Jersey.
There is some legislation on the horizon that would address such issues. It’s potentially called the States’ Rights Clean Energy Bill, said Craig Lewis, Executive Director, Clean Coalition.
“It’s a one-page bill changing one line of Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act. It allows some flexibility for states to put the price of solar energy where it needs to be,” he said.
“Why do we, as Americans, have to make everything so complicated?” Geesman said. “It’s not complicated.”
People in the U.S. are paying 20 percent more for solar than people in Germany.
“Why don’t we simply adopt the German tariffs, and not get rid of what we already have?” he said.
There’s also an issue of popularizing solar among more homeowners in the U.S., and for that matter—everywhere.
“Far too few people [consider a] system on their rooftop for their investment purposes,” said Weber. “It’s a 20-year guaranteed return.”
In Germany that’s fostered by banks, which consider photovoltaics as an asset class, lowering the cost of interest rates to support such development, something that U.S. banks aren’t doing.
SEIA is working to support a bank that would address that, a clean energy development bank, Resch said.
“It would service all markets from utility-scale, almost to residential,” he said.
Such a mechanism taken to the residential market could help more homeowners go solar, Geesman said.
“A clean [energy] market looking at the credit strength of a utility versus a homeowner,” he said. In such an environment, banks would be able to offer lower interest-rate financing based on the security of the utility’s revenue stream, rather the homeowner’s credit rating.
Basically, it’s a complex issue that can’t be remedied in one meeting. However, Resch encouraged the audience to remember that the first step to change is getting involved and staying involved.
Pictured: Resch speaking at the 2011 PV America expo in Philadelphia.