A California Perspective

RE Outlook 2003 – The coming year promises to bring a number of opportunities and challenges to the solar industry.

RE Outlook 2003 – January 16, 2003 – The coming year promises to bring a number of opportunities and challenges to the solar industry. From a California perspective, these will include: · Working with the California Energy Commission to ensure a stable Emerging Renewables Buydown Program going forward, in a climate of staggering state budget deficits · Working with the California Public Utilities Commission to ensure continuation of the CPUC/Investor Owned Utility buydown program for PV and other renewable generation technologies over 30 kW in system size beyond its scheduled sunset at the end of 2004 · Working to craft a California buydown program for solar water heating technologies modeled on the successful Emerging Renewables Buydown Program and accessing funding from natural gas customers (virtually all water heating in California is provided by natural gas fired heaters) · Working with the new home construction industry to increase the utilization of solar water heating and PV by builders, with an eye toward the U.S. Department of Energy’s Zero Energy Buildings Initiative · Working on the federal level to help usher in a income tax credit for solar water heating and PV systems · Working with participants in the USH2O Utility Solar Water Heating Initiative to engage utilities around the country in new solar programs · Working with companies to increase the utilization of Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) technologies for electricity and heat production · Working to assure that states’ Renewable Portfolio Standards make room for solar technologies as well as lower-priced renewables I believe that the most effective avenue for positive change in the solar energy industry is through the pursuit of legislation on both the state and federal level. Legislation at the state level has resulted in net metering laws, buydown programs, tax credits, laws against restrictive codes and covenants, property tax exemptions and many other commendable policy changes. Legislation at the federal level holds the promise of changes, which can begin to engage all Americans in a homegrown effort to start using indigenous energy supplies, rather than importing a precariously large percentage of our total energy needs. (Making this point to the readership of this publication is obviously preaching to the choir.) In this, my 30th year in the solar energy industry, I can only assure you that unless we remain vigilant pursuing every opportunity for change, our growth will not meet our hopes and expectations. I remain committed to this course of action, and I hope that you do as well. About the Author: Les Nelson is executive director of the California Solar Energy Industries Association. He can be reached at lnelson@westernrenewables.com
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