Solar news: Bipartisan legislation to repeal solar tariff, third-party solar at record-low levels

In this week’s Solar News Roundup, a group of bipartisan lawmakers introduce a bill to block Trump’s solar tariffs, and GTM Research reports that third-party ownership of solar systems is at its lowest since 2011.

New legislation takes aim at Trump’s tariff on imported solar products

This past week, a group of bipartisan lawmakers introduced a bill to eliminate Trump’s 30 percent tariff on solar modules made overseas. The new bill would cause the duties and tariffs implemented by Trump to revert back to their original levels, and would allow companies that were affected to receive a retroactive reimbursement for any affected products.

The legislation, introduced as The Protecting Solar Jobs Act, is backed by representatives Jared Huffman (D-CA), Mark Sanford (R-SC), Ralph Norman (R-SC), and Steve Knight (R-CA). “A tariff is a tax, and I don’t know what good can possibly come as a consequence of stifling the growth of solar power,” said Sanford, a Republican representative from South Carolina. “Solar power is one of the cheapest and fastest-growing renewable energy sources, and if we are really focused on becoming energy-independent, now is no time to slow its growth.”

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) reported that Trump’s tariff could cause up to 23,000 American jobs to disappear in 2018, in addition to the loss of billions of dollars in solar investment. While the solar tariff won’t entirely cripple the solar industry, it is a roadblock manufacturers and installers must contend with. Any legislation looking to repeal or fight back against the solar tariff can only be positive for the U.S. solar industry, and will help save jobs in the solar industry for years to come.

Third-party solar ownership hits lowest levels since 2011

According to GTM Research’s new report on residential solar financing, 2017 was the first calendar year since 2011 that had more solar energy systems purchased through cash or loans than installed with leases or PPAs. Third-party ownership was down to 41 percent of all residential installations in 2017, from a high of 72 percent in 2014. GTM projects that third-party ownership will continue to fall to 33 percent by 2023.

Allison Mond, a senior solar analyst at GTM Research, says that the fall in third-party ownership is likely due to three main factors: a shortage of third-party ownership suppliers, increasing availability of loan products, and Tesla’s and Vivint’s shift away from third-party financing.

As fewer homeowners are choosing third-party leases or PPAs, loan providers are expanding their share of the market. Mosaic became the number-one residential financing provider in 2017, just beating out Sunrun. Sunlight Financial and Dividend Solar have also experienced recent growth thanks to their relationships with large installers and competency with smaller installation companies, respectively.

Consumers can expect to see loan rates becoming more and more competitive as loan providers fight for market share. Loan providers are also beginning to expand their offerings into areas like energy storage, according to GTM. Additionally, GTM Research expects that O&M plans will increase in adoption as lenders begin to offer more products in an attempt to match their competitors.

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