(Also see Solar- Grow Up and Pay Up!)
The growing number of rooftop solar installations are efficient enough and large enough to garner the owners a tidy revenue stream and/or generation credit from the utility.
Says the Wall Street Journal: “Well-meaning—but ill-conceived—federal, state and local tax incentives for rooftop solar give back between 30% and 40% of the installation costs to the owner as a tax credit. But more problematic are hidden rate subsidies, the most significant of which is called net metering...”
The article goes on: The California Public Utilities Commission projects that net metering will cost the state $1.1 billion a year by 2020. Arizona Public Service Company calculates that if the current rate of rooftop-solar installations continues through mid-2017, its nonsolar customers will pay close to $800 million in higher rates to subsidize rooftop-solar customers over the next 20 years. The total costs nationwide are unknown.”
In response to these and other studies and growing awareness of the craziness of rooftop solar economics, there is a move afoot to restructure NEM and increase the fixed connection charge.
Depending on how you jigure the figures, this change alone could double the payback time for a rooftop installation.
But don’t we need subsidies to pay for solar “research”, to make better panels? Not really. Economies of scale and location (Florida rather than Maine) will drive near-term PV solar economics, not more technology.
All this begs the question - does solar need to be continually subsidized in some form to keep this resource viable and growing? Or is it time for solar to start paying, as the popular challenge goes – its fair share?