Tuesday, May 24, 2011

NJ concerned as solar energy industry flares out in PA

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports today that Pennsylvania's solar-energy industry is "collapsing under the weight of its own good fortune." 

"Spurred by hundreds of millions of dollars in federal and state incentives, solar developers have built so many projects in recent years that they have created an oversupply of solar-energy credits, the market instruments that provide the developers with a critical income stream.
"The price of solar credits in the state has plummeted as much as 75 percent in the last year, dramatically shrinking the income-producing potential of new and existing solar projects."

Pennsylvania State Rep. Chris Ross (R., Chester County) expects today to introduce a legislative rescue for the industry that would increase the amount of solar energy that utilities must buy through 2015, propping up the price of solar credits. The bill also would close Pennsylvania's solar markets to out-of-state producers. Developers here say cross-border imports of solar power are driving down prices in Pennsylvania.

Watching what has happened across the Delaware River--and charging that the Christie Administration's 's foot dragging on a revised energy master plan had created perilous uncertainty in the market--New Jersey State Senator Bob Smith introduced legislation designed to prevent a similar fate for solar in the Garden State.

But at a hearing last week on the bill, numerous industry representatives noted that solar energy projects in New Jersey were still doing well--despite dropping prices for solar credits--and that the bill's tinkering with long-term financing might not be necessary if the state Board of Public Utilities were required to extend programs for utility solar projects beyond their current 2016 expiration date. Most parties, however, agreed with Smith's suggestion that the legislation be changed to establish a floor price for solar credits.

Have you installed solar on your business or home? Are you a solar installer?  We invite you to provide your opinion on the future of the solar industry in the response box. If one is not visible, click on the tiny 'comments' line below.
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