Last week, as both the tax reform plans from both Houses of Congress were scrutinized, it became apparent that the reforms could impact renewable energy. Meanwhile the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) proposal on coal subsidies could increase costs. Solar, as always, remains ready to help and recently launched Solar Saves Lives to help Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands recover from Hurricane Maria.
The new tax reform proposals from the Republican-led House and Senate would change the incentive programs for wind and solar power. The House proposal would impact wind much more significantly than the Senate proposal essentially ending the Production Tax Credit (PTC) used by wind much more rapidly. The House proposal also would reduce the amount of time the Investment Tax Credit (ITC), which is used for solar power is available.
The tax reform proposals aren’t the challenge renewable energy faces. The DOE has proposed subsidizing coal and nuclear power—further—allowing them to better compete with lower-cost energy sources, including wind, solar and natural gas. A diverse group of energy organizations has called on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to reject the proposal, calling it costly and unnecessary proposal. The group submitting their comments opposing the proposal include the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), grid operators and even American Petroleum Institute.
Solar has been instrumental in disaster recovery efforts for number of years including in Haiti but now The Solar Foundation and solar companies have launched Solar Saves Lives to aid disaster recovery efforts in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Already 20 solar companies have pledged $5 million in equipment to bring power back to food markets and medical centers in the island.
Solar power also continues to be used in interesting new ways. For instance, the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) created magenta-colored greenhouses with unique photovoltaic (PV) solar cells. The photovoltaic panels powered the greenhouses while allowing light to pass through the plastic panels of the greenhouse to grow crops. The light that filtered through the greenhouses also actually helped increase the rate of growth for some of the crops. The university did the research to study how greenhouses, which are increasingly being used for food production, could also be self-powered.
Meanwhile in a remote location in Idaho solar power was used as a cheaper means to keep a remote feeder line operational and providing voltage regulation for the line. By installing solar panels, the utility was able to avoid installing extra voltage regulation or replacing the power line with a newer, more efficient transmission line.Tweet