INSIGHT: “The Big Question: What is your greatest concern for your industry in 2016?” by Camilo Patrignani
Where will the industry stumble and where will it thrive?
Since the ITC was extended, we’re shifting focus to state-level fights over the valuation of solar electricity through net metering policy. Efforts to artificially devalue distributed solar output by reducing net metering incentives or limiting future growth by preventing net metering cap expansion made news during 2015 in states as diverse as Florida, Hawaii, Arizona, and Massachusetts — and considering solar’s projected growth, we will face renewed assaults in 2016.
Utilities and regulators are just starting to shape the future of valuing solar electricity, and unless solar owners are accurately paid the true worth of the clean (and free) power they contribute to the grid beyond their on-site demand, many projects aren’t economically viable for customers. Policymakers in states like California and New York should be applauded for their forward-looking efforts to set rate structures acceptable to utilities and customers, and resources like the annual Freeing the Grid report or the quarterly 50 States of Solar summary provide helpful lessons for regulators looking to find a middle ground which allows utilities, solar developers, and customers to all benefit from the power of solar energy.