Feature Image for 11.25.15 Solar Media Update

11.25.15 Solar Media Update

November 25, 2015

By Clara Schopf, Incentive Coordinator, SoCore Energy

Sunnova Sends a Letter to Members of Congress Asking Them Not to Extend the Investment Tax Credit

  • According to ITC advocates, tens of thousands of jobs will be cut and billions of dollars in investment will be lost without the full tax credit.
  • Last week, Sunnova CEO John Berger sent a letter to top lawmakers outlining his opposition to an extension of the ITC.
    • This is the first time a major solar company has lobbied Congress and publicly contradicted the messaging of national and local lobbying groups.
  • Berger called claims about job losses “extreme” and said the industry is prepared to reduce costs in order to thrive in a post-ITC world.
  • “The solar industry is increasingly an established industry that no longer needs government subsidies to survive,” Berger wrote, “while we understand that some fear it could be difficult and even disruptive to transition away from such a significant subsidy, we do not believe this is a crisis for the industry.”
  • “Unequivocally, solar economics for the U.S. industry will be worse without the ITC, which means some markets will certainly roll back and those on the cusp may be set back by years,” said MJ Shiao, the director of GTM’s solar research practice.

BLM Charges Exorbitant Rent, Fees for Solar, Energy Storage Compared to Fossil Fuels

  • Solar energy developers on public lands pay rents ranging from $16.50- $6,897.20 to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), while the nationwide rent for oil and gas leases has been set at only $1.50 per acre per year since 1920.
  • “It’s almost embarrassing what we charge,” said Dick Bouts, Energy Program Analyst at BLM, “it’s certainly pocket change for these companies that will spend millions of dollars developing a lease to get it in production, and the rent is almost nothing.”
  • The oil and gas lease rates were set in law by congress in the 1920s under the Mineral Leasing Act and remain essentially the same today.
  • In addition to land rent, all energy sources pay a fee- for oil and gas, the fee is 12.5 percent of the cost the oil and gas sells for at wholesale while solar has a per-MW fee.
  • “There is no free ride for solar or wind,” Bouts said, “you often will hear people say that somehow they get a free ride. Well it is actually the opposite.”

The Top 5 Trends in Distributed Energy Policy and Rate Design

A NC CETC paper, published in partnership with Meister Consultants Group, examined distributed resource policy issues across the nation from the third quarter of 2015 and compiled five developments as the most significant:

  1. Expansion of utilities into rooftop solar, including initiatives by APS and TEP in Arizona, CPS Energy in Texas, Con Edison in New York and Georgia Power
  2. Challenges to NEM by California IOUs Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas and Electric that could impact the entire U.S. rooftop solar market.
  3. Numerous proposals from utilities for substantial increases in residential fixed customer charges, the most frequently proposed policy change
  4. Proposals from utilities in Arizona, California, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas for a demand charge for residential solar owners based on their highest period of usage in a billing period
  5. A proposal by NV Energy to eliminate retail rate NEM credits and impose a successor tariff that creates a new rate class for net metered customers with both time-of-use (TOU) rates and demand charges.

100 MW of Massachusetts Commercial Solar at Risk from Failure to Reach Net Metering Compromise

  • Massachusetts lawmakers failed last week to extend the cap on the state’s net metering rules for commercial solar installations, and after a conference committee were unable to reach a compromise when the legislature adjourned until January.
  • While residential solar, which is not subject to the net metering cap, is expected to flourish in Massachusetts, Greentech Media estimates commercial developments could be reduced by about 100 MW next year.
  • The Massachusetts Senate voted over the summer to raise the cap, but the House waited until the session was nearing a close to pass a measure which raised the cap while also deeply cutting the rate paid to solar developers.

In Other News…

The Alliance for Solar Choice, an advocacy group representing rooftop solar companies, is losing one of its anchor members: SolarCity. See article here

Michigan lawmakers will likely vote next month on two proposals that renewables advocates say will do nothing to boost green energy because the goals are voluntary, and will likely kill the state’s choice program with a hefty load of restrictions and rules. See article here

Madison Gas and Electric Co has outlined an “Energy 2030” strategy it says advances local community goals and will allow the utility to reach 30% renewables in the next 15 years. See article here

A new report finds enormous value to drones over truck rolls for utility-scale PV maintenance and data collection. See article here

A team at the University of Delaware is developing materials to harness portions of the sun’s spectrum that in today’s conventional solar panels are largely wasted. See article here

In the New England states of MassachusettsVermont and New Hampshire, net-metering battles are well underway. See article here

New York Governor Cuomo plans to issue a mandate, called the Clean Energy Standard, to require that New York Stateachieve 50 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2030. See article here

New From BNEF

SunEdison Building 6.2 Megawatts of Solar for Los Angeles County: SunEdison Inc., the world’s biggest renewable-energy developer, agreed to build 6.2 megawatts of solar power for Los Angeles County.

Google First to Buy Clean Energy Under North Carolina Program: Google, the world’s largest corporate buyer of renewable energy, is the first customer to sign on with a North Carolina program that lets the company purchase clean power directly from local utilities.

Las Vegas Going Green in Deal to Run City With Only Clean Power: Las Vegas is going green. The city is planning to run municipal buildings, fire stations, parks, streetlights and other facilities exclusively with renewable energy, under a deal announced with the Berkshire Hathaway Inc.-owned utility NV Energy Inc. The agreement doesn’t cover the famously bright casinos on the Las Vegas Strip.

SolarCity Promotes Serra to President as CFO Buss to Retire: SolarCity Corp. promoted Chief Operating Officer Tanguy Serra to the newly formed position of president as Chief Financial Officer Brad Buss said he plans to retire in February.

SunEdison Replaces CEO of Two TerraForm Businesses in Shakeup: SunEdison Inc., the worst-performing solar company, is reorganizing the structure of its three interconnected companies, affirming its support for Chief Executive Officer Ahmad Chatila and giving more authority to Chief Financial Officer Brian Wuebbels.

View All Blog Posts