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01.06.16 Solar Media Update

January 6, 2016

By Clara Schopf, Incentive Coordinator, SoCore Energy

How the National Solar Lobby Passed the Investment Tax Credit

  • SEIA’s planned campaign consisted of five components: hire more lobbyists, grow its political action committee and donate to more candidates, work with state chapters to build local support, sharpen communications, and use research to show lawmakers where installation growth and job creation is occurring.
  • The crux of the campaign: build Republican solar champions.
    • The organization hired three well-connected Republicans through the law firm Squire Patton Boggs.
  • In early October, House Republicans passed a bill eliminating the 40-year ban on oil exports.
    • While the controversial proposal didn’t have enough support from Democrats in the Senate, North Dakota Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp proposed linking long-term extensions of renewable energy tax credits to the ban.
    • That provided an opening for groups lobbying for wind and solar tax credits.
  • Many factors aligned all at once to make the deal possible, but limited Republican opposition to the credits was one reason the bill moved forward.

SolarCity Confirms Over 550 Jobs to Go in Nevada

  • The largest residential solar installer in the US SolarCity has confirmed the potential loss of over 550 jobs located in Nevada after the state’s Public Utilities Commission (PUC) announced new policies that would restrict net metering credits and create extra charges against those having deployed solar.
    • The company was known to have employed over 2,000 people in Nevada before the PUC decision.
    • Around 6,000 people across Nevada were said to be employed by companies involved in the solar industry.
  • SolarCity previously announced in late December, 2015 that it would stop selling and installing PV systems in Nevada with immediate effect, highlighting at the time that job losses were inevitable.
  • SolarCity also noted that it also been forced to closed a training facility in West Las Vegas that it opened only in November 2015.
  • Nearest rival, Vivint Solar had also threatened to pull-out of doing business in Nevada after the PUC decision.

Hawaii Court Upholds PUC Order Ending Retail Rate Net Metering

  • Hawaii Circuit Court Judge Gary Chang ruled last week that the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) followed proper administrative procedure for rule-making in ordering major changes in the state’s net energy metering (NEM) policy and did not violate Chapter 91 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes.
  • In October, the Hawaii PUC ended retail rate net metering in the state, reducing payments rooftop solar customers can receive for excess energy they export to the grid. Advocacy group The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC) filed suit, arguing that the commission’s order violated state and federal laws because it was made without public hearings preceded by 30 days’ notice.
  • Leaving the commission’s order terminating the NEM retail rate credit in place, Judge Chang ruled there was “no abuse of discretion in the PUC’s decision to proceed by way of order rather than rule-making.”​

Google’s Project Sunroof Expands Online Evaluations of Solar Potential to 20 Metro Areas

  • Google’s Project Sunroof now analyzes home and building rooftops for their solar-readiness online in 20 U.S. metropolitan areas in Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, and North Carolina.
  • The just-expanded Project Sunroof online service, similar to those that compare air fares and hotels, uses the resources of Google Earth and a solar data base to assess weather patterns, shading, and local solar prices and incentives to present a homeowner or building occupant with a cost-benefit analysis of rooftop solar installation.
  • Project Sunroof also compares the options of direct ownership and leasing through a third party ownership (TPO) finance plan for the site and provides contact information for local solar installers.

In Other News…

SunEdison is taking steps to shore up its balance sheet, announcing a pair of deals on Dec. 30, 2015, to reduce debt and sell its stake in a 336 MW portfolio of solar farms. See article here

Dynapower, a manufacturer of energy storage inverters, ended 2015 with a 75-MW backlog, according to Energy Storage Report. See article here

An Illinois city is hoping that by making solar more affordable for its residents it can help meet its own goals of reducing greenhouse gases. See article here

Rocky Mountain Power is seeking to shorten the 20-year contract length for qualified facilities (QFs) under the federal Public Utility Regulatory Policy Act to 2 or 3 years, the Salt Lake Tribune reports. See article here

Production and deliveries of Tesla’s stationary storage systems have now begun, while a company spokesman said it welcomes new competitors such as Faraday Future to the EV space – in line with Tesla’s stated values to accelerate clean energy deployment. See article here

California biomass energy plants are folding in rapid succession, unable to compete with heavily subsidized solar farms, many of which have sprouted up amid the fields and orchards of the San Joaquin Valley. See article here

Gulf Power Company has partnered with the US Departments of the Navy and the Air Force to develop three solar electric generating facilities across Northwest Florida. See article here

New From BNEF

SunEdison Falls a Second Day Amid Concern on Financing Talks

SunEdison Inc. fell for a second day after an analyst raised concern that negotiations over about $650 million in financing could dilute the value of existing shares.

Sun King Li Sees $14.6 Billion Vanish Amid Wild Ride for Hanergy

This year’s wild ride for Hanergy Thin Film Power Group Ltd. ends with the solar equipment maker a shadow of its former self, about $14.6 billion in paper losses for its chairman, the departure of key executives, a lawsuit over unpaid rent, canceled contracts and a regulatory investigation.

GE to Create Renewable Energy Segment, Realign Distributed Power

General Electric said Wednesday in e-mailed statement that it will split out its renewables business, principally onshore wind, from its Power Segment to create a new segment named Renewable Energy.

Canadian Solar Slides on Plan to Sell $100 Million in Shares

Canadian Solar Inc., the world’s third- biggest solar manufacturer, slipped the most in six weeks after announcing plans to sell as much as $100 million of common shares through an at-the-market equity offering.

Goldman Upgrades First Solar On ‘Strongest Balance Sheet’

First Solar Inc. climbed to a 52-week high after Goldman Sachs Group Inc. analysts raised their rating and price target and said the company has “the strongest balance sheet” in the industry.

 

*Article descriptions and summaries in this update consist of direct quotes from the referenced articles.

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