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Utility Companies’ Masochistic Policies

2016 was a good year for solar.

The year saw a five year extension of the federal solar Incentive Tax Credits (ITC), allowing homeowners to write-off up to 30% of the costs of a home solar installation.

Then there was a record number of solar installations, which beat 2015 by 191% according to a SEIA and GTM Research paper.

Add to this the enjoyable stat that in 2016 a handful of countries saw the price of solar drop drastically below the price of gas and coal.

Taking into account all of the solar industry’s positive achievements over the year, it’s no wonder that many of America’s state sanctioned utility companies have had a knee jerk reaction, pushing to increase their “fixed charges” fees up to 80% in some states.

A 50 States Solar report for 2016 shows that utilities in 18 states outlined such proposals, attempting to charge customers more for fixed charges, despite the fact many of them consumed less energy either by switching to renewables or installing energy saving appliances.

These backwards and short sighted tactics to subtly and dissuade people from switching to solar might have short term financial benefits for utility companies, but harmful long term consequences.

As solar technology exponentially improves, and KW per hour energy prices decline, utility companies are turning a blind eye to the global trend of switching to renewable energies.

As utility companies try and pressure consumers to stay by increasing fixed costs, these companies are only hurting themselves. Building new coal plants is a 30-50 year investment costing millions and one that is likely to pay less and less dividends in a future fueled by renewable energies.

 

Author: Harold Tan

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