Xcel has come to an agreement with the solar industry and is reinstating the system this coming Wednesday (March 23rd, 2011). For the small program (which is where most of the companies were doing most of their business) the rebate amount has been reduced to $1.75 (initially, and it will continue to go down over time) and the REC (Renewable Energy Credit) payment has been changed from an upfront payment to a performance based payment. To get more details, follow the link to COSEIA’s website (Xcel Energy article).
What does this mean to the solar industry? I can only put out directly what it has meant for Simply Efficient and speculate on where the solar industry of Colorado will go today. I am hopeful that this shake-up will allow for some serious weeding out of companies that are not committed to working in Colorado. A thinning of the number of companies is inevitable and needed, and hard to ignore any longer. As the rebate levels drop, I expect to see the largest players, the ones from out of state, close shop and move to more promising territories. Without the up-front payment, I have trouble seeing the leasing programs remain feasible. The bigger in state players (Namaste, Bella, SolSource) will be forced to grow into other more favorable solar states (if they haven’t already) and severally cut down their size in Colorado or close their doors. The smaller companies will also have to shrink and or close. The longtime established thermal companies will go on as they have all along before all of the Amendment 37 excitement came around.
Overall, these changes in the solar industry will leave Colorado with a few solar companies. The companies that do stay here, will ultimately have to be the stronger companies, so they should be here for the long-haul.
I’ve been in the solar industry for 12 years now. When I started there were only a handful of companies, most of them only did solar thermal systems. We will all have to wait and see what the consumer’s want and do our best to give it to them.