A solar home

Week in Review: A Cloudier Week for Solar

While solar power continues to press forward overall, it hit some bumps last week in a number of states including Arizona and Minnesota. Still, there was some positive news for the industry last week, like a new pilot program for cooperatives. In addition, another report confirmed that solar is expected to reach grid-parity across the globe by 2020.

Last week, the Arizona Corporation Commission ruled that Arizona Public Service (APS) could impose a service fee on its solar users. The case has had national significance as the solar industry and utilities watched to see whether the commission would impose fees on solar users, and if so, how much they would be. Ultimately, despite spending millions on campaigns in the state, APS was not able to impose a fee for the amount the company had wanted. In the meantime, the solar industry and solar supporters have called for an investigation to determine whether or not APS used customer payments for the ad campaign.

In Minnesota, the state’s new solar garden law is running into issues as Xcel Energy’s filing for solar garden incentives is less than what the solar industry was hoping for. Solar developers have said the proposed incentives would make it very difficult for solar gardens to be a feasible option in the state. Under its proposal, the utility would only pay between 6 cents to 10 cents per kilowatt for the power produced by solar gardens in its grid.

Neighboring Illinois’ solar incentive programs were hampered by another issue last week. The state’s renewable energy portfolio requires the state to source 18.4 percent from renewables by June 2014. The state’s program to purchase renewable energy credits has a flaw, however. The money that utilities are supposed to spend on solar power isn’t being spent and there’s now a $53 million pool of funds to support solar that hasn’t been used.

On a more positive note for solar, particularly for solar gardens, Vermont is piloting a new community solar program for electric cooperatives. The new program is supported by a SunShot Initiative grant and 15 co-ops across the U.S. are participating through the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA). Unde the program, the Vermont Electric Cooperative (VEC) will build Vermont’s largest PV array, a 5-megawatt project.

Another report has come out that confirms solar is coming into parity with other energy sources in the near future. A recent report from Navigant Research, its Solar PV Market Forecast, projected that by the end of this decade, solar will be at parity with other electric sources. The parity will come from a variety of factors, including the falling prices of solar, as well as other rising energy costs.