SEIA lays out local solar advocacy agenda at PV Conference in Boston

PV conference SEIA

Now freed from the unenviable task of lobbying Congress and actually getting them to do something (ahead of a deadline), the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) is readying its post-ITC agenda, and the PV Conference & Expo in Boston was the perfect location to kick it off.

The reason is the big solar battles today have moved from macro to micro as states and local jurisdictions consider (and some utilities fight for) new policies regarding net metering and fixed rates that could be detrimental to the solar industry and its customers – and the Northeast, especially Massachusetts, is a region to watch.

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RELATED: Solar vs. the state: Net metering, rate battles are heating up around the country 

As Rhone Resch, president and CEO of SEIA, pointed out in his opening remarks, the Northeast portion of the country (Maine to New York) is forecast to install about 7 GW of new capacity by 2020. But none of this is assured. Just look at what happened in Nevada. Or, look at what’s happening in Massachusetts. Since it was an early and often adopter of solar technology (ranking fifth in the nation at 1 GW), it is perhaps a glimpse into the Northeast’s future, where early capacity limits get hit and early rate and subsidy decisions get reexamined.

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“If we don’t get it right, Nevada will happen here, and it will get just as ugly,” Resch told the PV Conference attendees.

By getting it right in Massachusetts, he meant by supporting and lobbying for the right bill to raise solar capacity in the state. Currently there is a state Senate bill and a state House bill to address this, both mostly stagnant, with the Senate bill being more solar friendly and the House bill being more utility friendly. On top of that, the state’s SREC II program is nearly filled out, and SEIA is advocating for those capacity limits to be raised to act as a better bridge to the SREC III program.

Anyway, although many of the specifics during the keynote were Northeast related, the overall message applies to every solar nook and cranny around the country. First, SEIA will be applying the pillars it used to extend the ITC at the local level — advocacy, PACs, research (on jobs data) and grassroots support. And if you are talking to your local leaders and trying to explain the value of solar and what practical steps make the most sense for all, here is the roadmap SEIA laid out:

1. Better integration of sources onto the grid.
2. Better customer communication.
3. Help think about future business models.
4. Diversify energy portfolios.

The presentation ended by awarding Projects of Distinction in the area, which you can read about here.