This is your SolarWakeup for July 28th, 2017
Have a great weekend!
A Few Of My Favorite Things. There is an irony in seeing solar skeptics get into solar. Many times this is done quietly until they are successful. I welcome them to the solar industry and I am happy to see a change in perspective. In this case, Calpine won a solar project in Texas.
Something To Ponder. The Kochs have been confusing me recently. Of course, anti-solar (except when it comes to protectionism) but in this case apparently anti-EV. This could be based on the reduction of use of oil. But being anti-EV also means being anti-natural gas becase NG is the fuel of choice for the utility which needs EVs to grow. Maybe it is now a tactic of being anti-Elon Musk.
Arizona Settlements. Regulators recommend accepting the Arizona solar settlement. Next week you will hear from the Arizona SEIA Executive Director on this topic. Stay tuned.
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This is your SolarWakeup for July 27th, 2017
Now West Virginia Is In The Game! Telling a story is more than having it. We talk over and over again about how solar can be a way out for coal miners that through no fault of their own are out of work. A hundred years ago coal meant an industrial revolution, energy that drove the economy into the 20th Century. Today we have solar, a distributed source of power that will drive us through the 21st Century. I applaud the team for putting together this amazing video. It’s short, less than 4 minutes long, but the message needs to be heard. Please forward this on, so that your friends, colleagues and family can see what our industry is capable of.
Tesla Will Fight 201 Petition. Privately, many solar people have asked me who I think is behind the 201 petition, some throwing out the Tesla name because of the Buffalo Gigafactory. I was always skeptical given the support SolarCity had put early on into the ITC extension when some could have argued that killing off competition could be in their favor, same with net metering. A Tesla spokesperson confirmed to Axios, on the record, that they will be fighting against the 201 petition even with a US manufacturing facility. Heritage is against it, ALEC is against it, SEIA is against it, Tesla is against it. Who is for this except for two bankrupt companies, one owned by Chinese and one drowning in debt from Qatar? How is this good for America and Americans?
Ratebasing It. If your business depends on deploying capital to supply energy to a growing demand, the absolute last thing you want to see is lower demand. Even taking into account the growth of population, energy sales in the US are down 3% since 2010. If you look at it per capita, sales are down 7%. This is very much a lightbulb problem and not a solar problem but it will soon become an EV solution. Utilities have to think about demand and the largest place they’ll get it is in transportation. If I were a utility CEO, which I would love to be (Recruiters: call me, I am available), I would be taking a massive initiative to put charging stations across my territory and incentivize EV purchases. I may even propose a pilot to use my cheap debt to finance EV purchases for Uber and Lyft drivers. (Call me!)
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This is your SolarWakeup for July 26th, 2017
The Industry’s Eternal Shadow. Reuters does a good job of summarizing the current shadow over the solar industry. It seems that there is always something going on, ITC, net metering, or tariff for the second time. Based on what I heard about InterSolar, the show was smaller (by a whole level), no manufacturers and a general sense of pessimism. More importantly than the tariffs themselves, I think most solar contractors/developers would like some stability in the rules. The delays and unknowns cause more disruption than most policy decisions even when the policy decisions cause a reduction in market size.
The Impact of EVs. Assuming that the full scale of EVs does not include the ability to move energy from the car to the grid, power markets will have to adjust to the needs of transportation fuels. For the first time in the industrial age, utilities will compete with oil companies, two industrial sectors that have kept clear of each other for over a century. More importantly the grid operators will need to create the right price signals so the EVs and generators can adjust to the needs of the customers. If the customers don’t get the right price signals to turn on/off their demand, the market will not be able to brute force supply the needs of a transportation sector.
Well Wishes. Eric Wesoff wrote his good bye letter from Greentech Media. This publication has covered many of the articles over the years and we wish Eric well. There is no doubt that Eric was an editor with an opinion, if you pitched stories to him or his team you have encountered it first hand. We did share the tendency to hide in the press rooms in jeans and boots!
Panda, Panda, Panda!
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This is your SolarWakeup for July 25th, 2017
The Power Of Policy. After major policy shifts and changes in Nevada and Florida, permitting for solar is through the roof. While the baseline is obviously low and percentages are skewed, a shift up is definitely due to the combination of lower capital costs, reduced cost to install and regulatory frameworks that allow solar to compete. For the contractors that stay out of policy in their States, look at this and ask yourself. “What can I do for Vote Solar or my State SEIA chapter to help my business grow?”
First For Everything. The City of Tallahassee has its own power company. Not driven by shareholders, the City is looking to lower the cost of their energy by (wait for it), swapping solar for their existing hydro plant. At $85/MWh, Tallahassee sees $50/MWh solar being a better deal for the customers.
Pushing Back On Rate Increases. Normally a ratecase goes to the regulators and the Office of Public Counsel pushes back. It is becoming more and more politically acceptable and positive for politicians to make rate increases political. Prior to the availability of distributed generation that is cheap, politicians didn’t have a second option. The conversation is now changing.
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