Photon Magazine Focuses on State of NH Solar Industry
In the News | August 6, 2012 |Posted by Fred Greenhalgh
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International solar magazine Photon featured New Hampshire in their August issue in an ongoing series of how the solar industry varies from state to state in the US.
While it’s no surprise that the solar market of sunny California and New York differ quite profoundly, the article points out how even within the same region, the market can vary widely. The article’s headline “LAGGING BEHIND” pretty much sums up Photon’s analysis of the Granite State’s solar policies when compared to similar states.
Chris Warren writes:
Data from the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission (NHPUC), the 2011 energy year saw net-metered installations totaling 1.5 MW. By contrast, neighboring Massachusetts – which, admittedly, is much larger and a far bigger consumer of energy – in early June passed the 110 MW mark for its total installed PV capacity and the Bay State was expected to add an additional 60 MW in 2012 alone.
… The biggest missing ingredient – especially in comparison to Massachusetts, Vermont and even Connecticut – is consistent and predictable policy support … rebates have proven popular enough that available incentives are quickly depleted, resulting in a market that hums along when the rebates are available and more or less stops when they aren’t.
Despite the policy challenges highlighted in the article, New Hampshire’s solar industry is growing thanks to individual and businesses who are making the smart switch to solar energy – such as the several ReVision Energy customers highlighted in the article. Among them are Dan Sciacca, whose home has 6.4kw of solar, and Tom and Ben Southworth, a father and son duo whose family business is operating a hydro-powered sawmill, which now is being used to build materials for high-performance post-and-beam homes. Featured prominently on both Southworth houses are solar photovoltaic systems that lock in below-utility electric rates for decades, and offset CO2 emissions from nuclear, coal, and gas power plants in the process.
For what New Hampshire lacks in policy support, the increasing costs of grid electricity – and corresponding drops in solar panel costs – are driving the growth of the solar industry. In uncertain financial times, solar offers one of the few guaranteed returns on investment. And in a year with the hottest spring in recorded history, the staggering environmental costs of the “do nothing” approach are clear as well.
Photon also points out a New Hampshire landmark that reminds people of the way we currently make power:
Nearly 50 percent of [New Hampshire’s] electricity generation comes from nuclear power, and the majority of the population lives near the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant, which stands near the Atlantic Ocean. “We find there are people on the seacoast who are staring at a nuclear power plant on their way to work and saying, really, I don’t want to underwrite that,” says [ReVision Energy co-founder Fortunat] Mueller. “I’drather underwrite panels on my roof.”
Adjusting to concerns about the topsy-turvy nature of the state rebate, New Hampshire’s PUC announced a new solar photovoltaic rebate of $3,750 available for home systems up to 5kw in production. A state rebate averaging $1,500 for solar hot water remains in effect, and rebates up to $50,000 are available for businesses.