If you’re starting to believe that 2016 might just be the #YearofSolar, you’ll love the news out of the solar industry this week: IHS forecasted that solar installations will grow by 60 percent in 2016, Sunrun and SolarCity announced significant investor backing and Massachusetts unveiled $15 million of funding for solar in low-income households. Find these exciting developments and more in this week’s Solar News Roundup.
The Super Bowl, Now Powered By Solar
Football fans across the country are eagerly anticipating Super Bowl 50, coming up this Sunday at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. This year’s showdown between the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers is particularly special – it’s going to be powered by solar. The stadium, which officially opened less than two years ago, is one of the most sustainable in the NFL: it has more than 1,150 solar panels totaling 375 kilowatts (kW) of total solar capacity on-site, among other environmentally-friendly efforts. Levi’s Stadium is just the latest to take part in a growing trend of solar stadiums across the NFL, MLB, and other professional sports leagues.
Analytics Firm Predicts PV Installations Will Grow by 60% in 2016
New data published this week by analytics firm IHS predicts 60 percent growth for the solar industry in 2016. According to IHS, the majority of industry growth this year will come from utility-scale photovoltaic projects, and half of all newly installed PV between 2016 and 2019 will be utility-scale. Thanks in large part to the federal investment tax credit’s surprise six-year extension, the IHS projections reflect sustainable growth for the solar industry over the next several years.
Strong Financing for Sunrun Bodes Well for Distributed Solar
This week, Forbes was the first to comment on major funding developments for two of the biggest companies in solar: Sunrun and SolarCity. Two days after SunRun announced that they closed $250 million in secured bank financing, SolarCity revealed a $185 million securitization of distributed solar loan assets. For energy and business expert Peter Kelly-Detwiler, these two investments are positive signs for the solar industry, especially considering that both companies recently pulled out of Nevada as a result of changes to net metering in the Silver State (see next headline). Clearly, both solar giants are continuing what has been an aggressive expansion strategy, regardless of any setbacks from net-metering battles.
Nevada PUC May Amend Retroactive Net-Metering Changes
Senators Harry Reid (D-NV) and Angus King (I-ME) proposed new federal legislation this week that would regulate how utilities can alter net metering rates for existing customers with solar PV systems. The legislation is an effort to protect existing customers from retroactive net-metering rate increases, and was prompted by the Nevada Public Utilities Commission’s (PUCN’s) recent retroactive changes to its net metering policies. While it is strongly supported by solar industry stakeholders, regulatory utility commissioners are concerned that the new clause would hinder utilities’ ability to adjust rates for their customers. The PUCN will hold a hearing next week to consider alternatives to the retroactive changes, including grandfathering existing net-metering customers in under previous rates.
Massachusetts Governor Announces $15M in Solar Funding for Low-Income Homes
Massachusetts launched an initiative this week to fund solar panel and thermal heating systems for low- and moderate-income households. On Tuesday, Governor Charlie Baker announced $15 million in funding under a joint effort by the Department of Energy and Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. Championing the success of the Bay State’s clean energy economy, Governor Baker stated that local residents in poverty should have the same opportunity as the rest of the Commonwealth: to benefit from decreased energy costs and major tax breaks due to the incentives for going solar in Massachusetts.