On July 31, 2016

Why Solar Roofing Won’t Advance As Fast As It Should

You already know solar roofing offers many benefits. From saving money on your electricity bills, to promoting an energy efficient roofing option, solar roofing, as most people see it, is the way of the future.

It appears that state and federal governments agree. With numerous tax credits and incentives, homeowners who might have been hesitant, have been encouraged to try solar roofing.

But with only 1 percent of American homes currently generating any solar energy, the question becomes, why isn’t solar roofing spreading faster?

The answer, unfortunately, has to do with numbers – and perhaps some corporate backed political lobbying.

For as long as the solar industry has been growing, utility companies have been fighting against it. The argument? When solar customers use solar energy predominantly, they buy less electricity from the utility companies. Yet, they still buy electricity (mostly in the evening, or dark months of the year). According to the utility companies, this equates to solar customers not “paying their fair share” of the costs of enjoying electricity, such as line maintenance, tree trimming, and emergency crews.

In Nevada, for example, the Nevada Public Utilities Commission, voted to cut the credit that solar homeowners get by two cents per kilowatt hour. The average savings lost for a solar customer over twenty five years would effectively be $11,000. Some states, such as California, imposed a one-time connection charge for solar customers of between $75 to $150. Several other states are following suit with some even proposing increasing the fixed charges for all residential customers, arguing that increased revenue is necessary to sustain the two way flow of electricity resulting from more solar customers.

However, according to a February 2016 study by the Consumer Union – the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports – raising fixing prices disproportionately affects low-income households and doesn’t promote energy conservation. In fact, the report found that raising energy prices often results in less conservation, which, down the road, would only require new power plants – and you guessed it – more profit for utility companies.

If this doesn’t paint a rosy picture for you, you are not alone. Joshua Pearce, a solar expert at the Michigan Tech Open Sustainability Technology Lab, says that fighting to make residential solar power less viable for consumers is actually a huge tactical mistake for utilities to make. The truth, says Pearce, is that the day when more customers can unplug from the grid for good is not too far in the distant future.

That is, providing that the utility industry doesn’t attempt to block the way.

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  • By Joe Carroll  0 Comments 

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