The solar industry had a record-breaking year in 2016. It looks like 2017 will continue that trend even with continued challenges to net-metering policies and a shift in federal policy regarding the fossil-fuel industry, according to Utility Dive’s panel of experts.
Energy storage and newer interactive efficiency technologies will help reduce costs for rooftop solar customers throughout 2017, according to Anne Hoskins, Sunrun’s chief policy officer. The continuation of regulatory reform in major and emerging markets like New York, Hawaii, Massachusetts and California, can “facilitate collaborative initiatives between distributed energy companies and regulated utilities which can bring enhanced value and reliability to the distribution grid,” Hoskins told Utility Dive.
“In 2017, U.S solar will continue to see strong growth in commercial and utility-scale installations. As for the residential sector, we are highly optimistic that it will also thrive in 2017 and beyond, despite a slowdown in 2016. Consumer awareness and interest in rooftop solar continues to grow and solar companies will respond by aggressively offering attractive solar economics and customer-centric solar programs,” said Vikram Aggarwal, CEO and founder, EnergySage.
In addition, state regulators and utilities will continue contentious discussions on net-metering policies in 2017, according to Autumn Proudlove, senior analyst for NC Clean Energy Technology Center. They will also address more sophisticated credit schemes for rooftop solar and grid-infrastructure updates in relation to local needs and politics. Negotiations of new net-metering policies or “net metering 2.0” will start developing common themes including time-of-day rates, and value of solar charges as a new regulatory system emerges, she said.
“States will necessarily serve as laboratories of democracy, taking diverse approaches to net metering 2.0 in 2017, which may or may not eventually trend toward a dominant successor policy after state experiences can be evaluated and shared,” said Proudlove.
As the shift from fossil-fuel produced electricity to renewable resources continues, utilities and corporations will make long-term commitments to developing renewable energy sources because as they continue to become cost-competitive with traditional sources of power, according to Amy Francetic, senior vice president of new ventures and corporate affairs at Invenergy. This will pressure utilities to diversify and adjust long-term growth strategies in 2017 facilitating utility-scale and commercial solar market growth.Tweet