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Rooftop solar dims under pressure from utility lobbyists

Posted by   /  July 9, 2017  /  No Comments

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Brian McCormack, a former top executive at the Edison Energy Institute, a prominent utility lobbying group, is now chief of staff for Energy Secretary Rick Perry. /Credit Southern States Energy Board, via Flickr

By Hiroko Tabuchi | The New York Times

ver the past six years, rooftop solar panel installations have seen explosive growth — as much as 900 percent by one estimate. That growth has come to a shuddering stop this year, with a projected decline in new installations of 2 percent, according to projections from Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

A number of factors are driving the reversal, from saturation in markets like California to financial woes at several top solar panel makers.

But the decline has also coincided with a concerted and well-funded lobbying campaign by traditional utilities, which have been working in state capitals across the country to reverse incentives for homeowners to install solar panels.

Utilities argue that rules allowing private solar customers to sell excess power back to the grid at the retail price — a practice known as net metering — can be unfair to homeowners who do not want or cannot afford their own solar installations.

Their effort has met with considerable success, dimming the prospects for renewable energy across the United States.

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