Housing Complex

Solar Bits: Move the Bill, Lease a Panel, Skyline Wins!

Hey, the sun's out these days! And the news about it has been piling up. Here's the digest:

  • My favorite picture of a solar thingy. (Darrow Montgomery)

    SUNBURN: So, remember that bill that's supposed to structure the market for solar renewable energy credits so that people can pay back their investment in no time flat? Even with little discernable opposition, it hasn't moved since getting a hearing in early March–not much else happens down at the Wilson Building during budget season–and solar advocates are panicking a little bit. Councilmember Yvette Alexander's office tells Housing Complex they expect to hold a markup on the bill in May. Until then, without confidence from consumers or lenders that the issue will get sorted out, industry folks are shifting their operations to neighboring states–and certainly aren't hiring like they might otherwise. "I would argue that 2011 is in some ways a lost year for the solar community here in D.C.," says Yuri Horwitz, of SREC aggregator Sol Systems. "The lack of legislative clarity is really starting to push this market to a point where jobs are going to be lost."

  • LEASE UP: With a long waiting list and reduced grants, D.C.'s solar incentives may not cover the full cost of buying a photovoltaic system for your roof. But the District Department of the Environment has just told new market player SolarCity–which recently bought CleanCurrents–that it will also pay for solar leases. SolarCity is selling a 20-year contract for $6,000, which is about the size of grants that DDOE will be handing out in the future. You don't get revenue from the renewable energy credits you generate, but you can still basically go solar for free.
  • KUDOS FOR SMART PEOPLE: Skyline Innovations, the Adams Morgan-based firm I used as an example of the burgeoning D.C. solar industry, last week took home a Mayor's Award for Environmental Excellence. That came soon after they finally announced a deal for the biggest solar system in D.C., at American University. D.C. isn't enough for these guys anymore: They're headed west, starting up an office in Los Angeles.
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