More American homes than ever before — nearly 31,000 — had solar panels installed on their roofs in the third quarter of 2013, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) announced Tuesday. Combined with utility scale projects, the U.S. gained a total of 930 megawatts of photovoltaic solar capacity, a 35 percent gain from the the previous year. And we’re set to nearly double that amount.
The increase was lead by large projects, but residential installations, which increased by 49 percent from 2012, showed the most rapid growth. According to SEIA, this was driven by state renewable energy initiatives. And indeed, the top markets were California, Arizona, North Carolina, Massachusetts and Nevada, all of which offer incentives for going solar.
That’s good news indeed, unless these wingnuts have their way…
“What we saw in 2013 was an attempt to repeal RPS laws, and when that failed … what we are seeing now is a strategy that appears to be pro-clean energy but would actually weaken those pro-clean energy laws by retreating to the lowest common denominator,” he said.
One way ALEC is doing this is by entering the fight against net metering, which utility companies argue is an unfair subsidy for solar that doesn’t take into account fixed costs like grid maintenance and labor. Net energy metering policies allow solar owners to get credit for energy they feed back to the grid.
43 states and the District of Columbia currently have net metering policies, and they have played a large role in the growth of rooftop solar nationwide.
The ALEC draft document for this week’s Energy, Environment, and Agriculture Task Force Meeting encourages state policymakers to recognize the value the electric grid delivers to all and to update net metering policies to require everyone who uses the grid, such as distributed solar users who feed into it, to pay for it.