Household Solar Popularity Builds, As Does Utility Industry Discomfort

Utilities and regulators should be looking forward, not backward, to find ways to invest in progress, rather than trying desperately to cling to yesterday's business model, which is based on encouraging consumption of polluting sources of energy.

2 minute read

May 12, 2015, 5:00 AM PDT

By Hazel Borys

Kaid Benfield offers up a review of what's happening with net metering of solar in the United States, and cautions us that it's getting political. "'US solar power grew by 6.2 gigawatts in 2014, a 30 percent increase over the previous year and representing nearly $18 billion in new investment,' according to data released last month by the Solar Energy Industries Association and GTM Research, reported by Daniel Cusick for ClimateWire and reprinted in Scientific American. A similar amount of growth is projected for 2015, adds Cusick, because of 'falling costs for solar panels and modules, business model innovation that allows for more flexibility in ownership, favorable political and regulatory environments, and increased access to low-cost capital.' Solar accounted for nearly a third of the nation’s new generating capacity in 2014, more than either coal or wind (though less than natural gas)."

"Unfortunately, it seems that whenever there is progress, there’s opposition. Some fossil-fuel-based utilities are getting uptight about losing market share, according to an article written by Joby Warrick and published in the Washington Post. Determined to slow the growth of solar, the companies have persuaded authorities in Arizona and Wisconsin to slap a monthly surcharge on consumers for the practice of 'net metering' described by Peter Murtha. They are targeting additional states, and Warrick reports that 'in some states, industry officials have enlisted the help of minority groups in arguing that solar panels hurt the poor by driving up electricity rates for everyone else.'"

Monday, May 11, 2015 in PlaceShakers

Chicago Intercity Rail

Amtrak Ramping Up Infrastructure Projects

Thanks to federal funding from the 2021 infrastructure act, the agency plans to triple its investment in infrastructure improvements and new routes in the next two years.

September 25, 2023 - Smart Cities Dive

View of Interstate 205 bridge over Columbia River with Mt. Hood in background.

The Unceremonious Death of a Freeway Expansion Project

The end of an Oregon freeway project didn't get much fanfare, but the victory is worth celebrating.

September 19, 2023 - Streetsblog USA

Google maps street view of San Francisco alleyway.

Ending Downtown San Francisco’s ‘Doom Loop’

A new public space project offers an ambitious vision—so why is the city implementing it at such a small scale?

September 26, 2023 - Fast Company

Aerial view of coastal development and bright blue ocean in Kaua'i, Hawai'i.

Kaua’i County Uses Long-Range Models to Mandate Resiliency Standards

The county requires builders to assess potential flood risks using models that account for sea level rise projected as far out as 2100.

September 28 - Smart Cities Dive

Semi truck driving down freeway with twilight sky in background.

California Governor Vetoes Autonomous Truck Ban

Gov. Newsom called the new law unnecessary, citing existing efforts by state regulators to develop new rules around autonomous trucking.

September 28 - Wired

Roadside motel with turquoise room doors in Tucumcari, New Mexico.

Low-Barrier Motel Shelter Is a Success—But Not an Easy One

Many guests at Motels4Now are on their second or third stays—but staff say that's doesn't equal failure, and the numbers bear that out.

September 28 - Shelterforce Magazine

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.