In case you missed it, two recent developments clearly demonstrate why America remains “bullish” on solar energy. But they’re also vivid reminders of why we need to remain vigilant. As an organization, and as an industry, too much is at stake for us to become complacent. As the old saying goes on Capitol Hill: “What Congress giveth, Congress can taketh away.”
This week, a new report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) predicts that most new electric generation capacity in the United States through 2040 will come from natural gas and renewable energy. Of the 83 gigawatts (GW) of renewable capacity additions being forecast, nearly half is expected to come from photovoltaic (PV) systems.
Today, solar is the fastest-growing source of renewable energy in America – and, as this report bears out, it will continue to be for years and years to come. The rapid deployment of solar nationwide will create thousands of new American jobs, pump hundreds of billions of dollars into the U.S. economy and help to significantly reduce pollution. Just as importantly, it will also provide Americans with the freedom to decide how to power their homes, businesses, schools and government facilities in the future. This report predicts that 60 percent of all new PV installations in the years ahead will be rooftop solar, creating significant savings when it comes to future energy costs.
And there’s more good news. In a setback to the utility monopoly model, the Iowa Supreme Court has ruled that a power purchase agreement (PPA) between the city of Dubuque and Eagle Point Solar does not violate state law. Regulated utility companies had fought the arrangement, claiming to have exclusive rights to sell to customers in their service areas. Iowa’s high court disagreed.
This is an important milestone for solar energy in Iowa. It undoubtedly will help to jumpstart solar installations across the state, creating new jobs, pumping money into the economy and reducing pollution. But just as importantly, this is a victory for freedom of choice, affirming the right of Iowans to decide how they want to power their homes and businesses in the future. We commend the court for doing the right thing.
But all of this progress could be jeopardized in the future if smart public policies, such as the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), net energy metering (NEM) and renewable portfolio standards (RPS) – policies which SEIA has fought hard for – come under renewed attack by deep pocketed, entrenched fossil fuel interests. Of immediate concern, we’re strongly urging Congress to adopt “commence construction” language this year, allowing project developers to take full advantage of the highly-successful solar ITC and give Americans access to new, affordable clean energy sources.
You can help by calling your elected representatives in Congress and urging them to support HR 2502, HR 3017 and S 2003. All of these bills would allow projects covered under Section 48 to quality for the ITC if construction begins prior to Dec. 31, 2016.
Please pick up the phone and make those calls. Working together, we can keep solar growing!
This post appeared on Renewable Energy World.