Solar Industry Analyst Mike Corso Interviews Green Solar Technologies To Gain Insights On Developing trends In The Solar Industry.
USA OCTOBER 16, 2017 – These are heady times for the solar industry. Rooftop solar power has been breaking records and booming across the country – but as more homeowners take advantage of this exciting technology the electric utilities are making less money and that’s disrupting their business model.
Similar to Uber and the taxi Industry or Amazon and the retail Industry – solar power is creating a tectonic shift in the energy business.
Also in the news was a recent trade ruling in which the ITC (International Trade Commission) voted 4-0 to impose tariffs (amount to be decided in November) on foreign-made panels. Industry insiders claim that the cost of solar power systems could increase by up to 50%, effectively killing the solar industry.
Industry analyst, Mike Corso, traveled to the Los Angeles headquarters of solar industry giant, Green Solar Technologies (GST), to dig deeper into current trends in the solar industry . GST has been in the news recently as the only national solar installation company to testify at the ITC hearing on behalf of American solar panel company SolarWorld.
Below is an excerpt from a conversation with one of GST’s solar advisors, Jerry Leifer, who speaks to customers dozens of time per day in multiple states:
MC: What are you telling your customers about the changing landscape of solar today? Why should they buy now and not wait it out?
JL: We educate our customers from the beginning about net metering and how it allows them to sell back the excess energy created to the utilities (Solar Renewable Energy Credits) via the grid. It makes the systems financially attractive and workable .
Presently, 41 states are offering net metering but there is a battle looming because utility companies like PG&E here in California want consumers to contribute to upgrading to a modern 21st century electric grid. They want to pay less and add restrictive new monthly fees. We tell our customers to take advantage of the packages currently in place alongside the federal 30% tax credit. It is good to be grandfathered in when there are so many changes swirling around.
So to be clear, and what we cannot stress enough, now is definitely the best time in the history of renewable energy to get on board the solar train.
MC: What specific examples of states can you cite of policies potentially changing this dynamic?
JL: Well, in Indiana, they have shredded incentives with a new law that changes the purchase of SRECs from the retail rate (11 cents per kW) to little more than the wholesale rate (4 cents). They are also ending net metering in 2022. They are adding additional fees for “energy delivery costs”. Arizona and Georgia have changed laws in the same vein. On the positive side, in Nevada they reinstated net metering and even more significantly they have established customers’ rights to self-generate and store electricity at the retail rate assuming it is affordable enough. It is important to understand that some of these states are undermining consumer choice and hurting solar jobs.
MC: What do you think about the claims that the upcoming tariffs on foreign panels could kill the industry because the cost of going solar will increase significantly.
JL: We think these claims are overblown. For sure, if the tariffs are imposed, the cost of solar energy systems will go up. However, the increase will not be significant enough to make solar an unattractive investment. Even the highest estimates are that panel prices could increase 50% but even then, the prices would just be the same as they were two years ago – when solar demand was still enormous.
On that note, we feel very lucky that from the beginning, we’ve partnered with SolarWorld, the biggest and best American solar panel company that will not be affected by the tariffs. Other companies that use cheap foreign panels will likely be hurt by the tariffs but we’ll be in a great position.
MC: Can you sum it up for us?
JL: Sure Jack. Panels are cheaper than they’ve ever been but this looks to be ending soon. Right now, customers have the best of both worlds – low costs for materials and the best economic credit from the utility companies. If anybody wants to go solar, there has never been a better time to do it.
It is in the market’s best interest to help secure resource-efficient low-carbon growth while creating jobs and protecting the environment. We here at Green Solar Technologies are honored and excited to be leading the charge.