Published 2/8/18 @ 6pm EST
About Solar Power Northeast
I recently attended Solar Power Northeast. Solar Power NE is presented by the Solar Energies Association (SEIA) and Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA). These events strive to keep the industry moving forward by offering cutting-edge events centered around the trends, technology and research that power the industry. I had the opportunity to attend the 2-day conference and learn more about the innovative sustainable energy industry. Although there was a lot to learn, I wanted to share the key points and takeaways from Solar Power NE.
The solar industry is re-inventing itself, as experts believe it’s transitioning to an energy-focused industry. New trends such as energy storage, community solar, and electric vehicles are taking a big step forward, creating more alternatives to help grow the sustainable world. In fact, Bloomberg Business predicted that there will be 400,000 more EVs on the road by the end of 2018. Programs like Community Solar can help the 80% of Americans who aren’t viable for solar, go solar. The government is a big supporter of these programs and started working on plans to offer attractive rebates and incentives to help reach their clean energy goal by the end of 2018. Boston Solar has expanded their energy division, and we will soon be offering energy storage and EVs + chargers. Stay tuned to learn more about our new offerings!
There have been some setbacks in the industry this year (i.e. tariff, incentives, utility charge); however, solar continues to emerge. In 2016, the U.S. saw its first million solar installation projects, over a course of 40 years. In 2018, we saw the second million installs – in just two years!
Bringing Solar to Underserved Communities
As the solar industry continues to grow in the Northeast, it is important to bridge the gap between those who can and cannot access local, affordable, clean energy. In this segment, I learned about successful case studies of solar’s impact on low-income communities. In the Northeast, 40% of homes are considered low-income. Out of the 40%, only 5% are utilizing solar benefits. Creating unique opportunities for these communities to go solar can help lower the cost of electricity, lower taxes, and create more incentives and rebates.
Updates on the National Tariff
As you might imagine, the recent National Tariff on imported solar panels was a big topic of discussion. The Trump Administration imposed a 30% tariff, but organizations like SEIA say it’s not yet final. There are still revisions being made in the White House regarding product exclusions. As SEIA continues to fight for solar and gain more supporters, the case will be reviewed in two years. The good news is that the tariff cannot be increased, and the President can decrease it at any time.
Boston Solar worked closely with our distributor and solar panel partners to ensure we could receive the best pricing and enough availability to keep our prices low. The good thing is, we have ample solar panels at pre-tariff pricing, but only while supplies last. We do foresee solar panel pricing increasing at some point because of this tariff but aren’t sure of how much or when. We believe the residential solar sector will have the least impact.
Incentives and Utility Demands
Massachusetts will be transitioning their solar incentive program from Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SREC) to SMART. As of right now, I can tell you that it will be a monthly, generous fixed incentive with a payback of 10 years. The incentives may not be as lucrative as SRECs; however, it is a more concrete and immediate payback that guarantees a set amount each month, instead of quarterly. As for the utility charge from Eversource, experts believe that for now, no other company (i.e. National Grid) will follow through with implementing a similar demand charge.
We urge those that are researching solar to get a free estimate now and talk to one of our solar consultants. We know that solar is a financial investment, but we also know that payback is quick, for savings that last a lifetime. Boston Solar's installation guarantee under SRECs will end on May 31st, 2018. If your town is part of a municipality, we can no longer guarantee installations under SRECs.