— Christopher Martin (@cleantechchris) February 22, 2016
Despite the Supreme Court’s recent ruling to halt the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan (CPP), SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch is confident that solar will continue to surge.
In an interview with Bloomberg’s Chris Martin, Resch said the temporary stay of the CPP will neither hiccup the near-term growth of the solar industry (because the CPP would not have come into effect until 2020) nor its long-term growth.
“We feel confident that the Clean Power Plan with finally be approved by the Appeals Court and will be put in place. It’s just on a year or year-and-a-half delay,” he said. “Any long-term growth that will be driven by the Clean Power Plan will still be in place.”
As it looks to cut carbon pollution from power plants, the CPP will help solar to penetrate new markets because states will be forced to adopt cleaner energy like solar, wind or geothermal. States that are beginning to restructure their energy policies now will be better off when the CPP comes into effect, according to Resch.
“You still have 20 states who are going forward with the development of their state implementation plans,” said Resch. “Those states who aren’t, who decided we’re going to wait and see what happens, they’re going to get stuck with a federal implementation plan. I think most states would rather develop their own implementation [plan].”
While the CPP is on hold, certain state-owned utilities are fighting back against the solar revolution, quashing net metering policies that are crucial to the industry’s growth.
Net metering, essentially a mechanism that allows people with rooftop solar installations to sell excess energy back to the grid, is a threat to the utility companies who want to limit competition and monopolize the market. In December, Nevada’s Public Utilities Commission voted to change net metering rules that immediately jacked up prices for consumers, stopping new projects in their tracks and major solar installers to retreat.
“We as an industry are stepping up and we’re battling back,” said Resch. “Electricity customers … want to see more solar. They want to have the option for going solar, so we’re going to represent them even though the utilities aren’t listening to their own customers.”
Resch thinks it’s only a matter of time before the industry rebounds in Nevada.
“Nevada has incredible solar resources,” he said. “The decision that was made by the Public Utilities Commission I think is temporary for sure. We’re going to take steps to try to reverse it to make sure that consumers who want to go solar can do so in the state of Nevada.”
Whether state utilities willingly or begrudgingly incorporate solar electricity into their renewable energy portfolios, there is no doubt solar will be a mainstay in the future of American energy. By 2020, total solar capacity will surpass 100 gigawatts (GW), up from 25 GW today, and the amount of solar jobs will double.
“It’s absolutely remarkable,” Resch said. “Any projection that you see for solar is massive growth. All of these companies are going to benefit … It’s an indication now that those who are interested in investing in solar should consider it.”