Wednesday 7 December 2022
  • :
  • :
[adrotate group="1"]
[adrotate group="4"]

Solar Companies and Utilities Unite In Compromise In New York

An unlikely alliance has formed in New York between some of the nation’s biggest solar energy developers and the state’s utility companies. Their aim is to figure out just how much the solar power systems owners will be paid for electricity they sell back to the utility.

Right now, utilities claim that the payments are too high, but solar advocates say that the retail price is a way to encourage the development of solar energy. The compromise plan is expected to reduce payments but also place value on the environmental benefits of solar power, and its role in helping utilities avoid the expensive upgrades to the grid.

“Seeing joint comments between utilities and solar companies are pretty rare,” said Joseph Hally, the manager of energy transformation and solutions at Central Hudson Gas and Electric. “Now that we have a foundational proposal, I think it’s much easier to, at least, start the conversation and include those perspectives in the future.”

The main issue at hand is the regulatory policy called “net metering,” which has long paid solar power system owners the retail price for the power sold back to the utilities.

In the compromise proposal, which was filed in April with the state Public Service Commission, there is a plan that would gradually move New York away from the system where solar energy owners are paid the retail price for their excess power.

Indeed, regulatory movements like this could be making room for real growth in the sustainable energy fields. After all, the price of solar panels has dropped 60% since the beginning of 2011, and more and more technological advances are being made.

For instance, American solar panel manufacturer SunPower announced recently that it had made a solar panel that can convert 24.1% of the light it collects into energy, making it the most efficient solar panel in the world.

The claim was confirmed by the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The panel was made from solar cells, developed in SunPower’s labs. Most other solar panels convert about 15 to 18% of the light that hits them.