Renewable Energy Industries Association of New Mexico

Renewable Energy Industries Association of New Mexico REIA advocates on behalf of those jobs and hundreds of New Mexico companies and individuals who are actively engaged in the business of renewable energy.
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Mission: To advance the use of renewable energy in New Mexico.

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06/28/2020

Solar Specific Solutions in Economic Recovery Plans
Lawmakers push for relief for solar industry support in next pandemic relief package

Thursday, Jun 25 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today the House Ways and Means Committee introduced the Growing Renewable Energy and Efficiency Now (GREEN) Act as a part of the $1.5 trillion House infrastructure package released earlier this week.

Notably, the bill includes direct pay and outlines a 5-year extension of the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) at 30% through 2025, followed by a two-year stepdown period. The stepdown would begin in 2026 at 26%, move to 22% in 2027 and then drop to 10% for commercial and utility-scale solar projects and 0% for residential solar in 2028.

“We’re heartened that members of Congress are stepping up to fight for American jobs by growing solar energy at this critical moment,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “These leaders recognize that we can achieve our economic goals while also tackling longstanding issues in our country such as climate change and the inherent inequalities of our energy economy. It’s time for us to translate these good intentions into action.”

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the solar industry has already lost 72,000 jobs and continues to experience financing challenges associated with tax equity markets drying up. Adding a direct pay option will enable solar companies to take the ITC as a cash payment, supporting companies that need immediate relief so they can hire back/keep workers on the payroll. While the proposed value of the new direct pay provision is 85% of the ITC value, this provision is a starting point for conversations about the policy.

The legislation also creates an investment tax credit for energy storage and includes an additive measure that would increase the value of the ITC by 10% for companies that meet certain labor requirements.

The Growing Renewable Energy and Efficiency Now Act focuses on the ITC, the primary vehicle used to incent clean energy deployment in the United States. The ITC is a proven policy that is responsible for adding $140 billion in private investment and creating thousands of new businesses and job opportunities for Americans across the country.

Over the next few days, the House will review the infrastructure package and propose amendments to the landmark bill.

06/14/2020

Utility-scale solar to soar in 2020, despite COVID, while coal decline accelerates, SEIA, EIA project

PUBLISHED
June 12, 2020

Catherine Morehouse
@cmorehouse10

Dive Brief:
Coal production is anticipated to fall 25% in 2020 due to slowed industrial production under the current economic recession, according to the U.S. Energy Information

Administration's short-term outlook released on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the U.S. solar market hit a record in Q1 of this year, installing 3.6 GW, according to a Thursday report from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Wood Mackenzie. Though overall installations are expected to fall in 2020 compared to 2019, utility-scale solar's strong performance is expected to boost the sector's growth by 33% this year, SEIA and WoodMac found.

EIA forecast solar and wind energy will be the "fastest-growing source of electricity generation in 2020," projecting the installation of 23.2 GW of new wind capacity and 12.6 GW of utility-scale solar capacity, slightly less than SEIA and WoodMac's estimate of over 14 GW.

Dive Insight:
The coronavirus pandemic and ensuing economic recession have led to dramatic shifts in power demand across the electricity sector this year, while supply chain and labor disruptions have impacted power resources across the board.

Coal-fired generation was previously in decline due to poor economics compared to the growing wind, solar and natural gas industries, but a drop in industrial demand will lead the coal sector to take a large hit this year, according to EIA. Commercial electricity sales are expected to drop 9.1% in 2020 and industrial sales are expected to dip another 6.7%.

Coal is expected to make up 17% of the electric power generated in 2020, down from 24% last year. However, the fuel is expected to bounce back slightly in 2021 as power loads return to normal, likely making up 23% of the U.S. electricity mix that year, according to EIA.

Natural gas, wind and solar will largely make up the 2020 gap, the agency predicts.

Natural gas will supply 41% of U.S. electricity this year, up from 37% in 2019, and then taper off to 36% in 2021 due to higher prices. Wind and solar supply are expected to see a steady increase from 17% in 2019, to 21% in 2020 and 23% in 2021, EIA predicts.

But solar will still take a hit this year due to the COVID-19 crisis. Solar additions in Q1 represented 40% of all power sector additions that quarter, according to SEIA, but nonresidential storage markets are expected to drop anywhere from 25% to 38% this year due to delayed construction, reduced customer demand and issues with tax credit qualification.

"This year was expected to be a banner year for residential solar PV before the coronavirus pandemic hit," according to the report. 810 MW were installed in Q1 "bucking the historical trend of seasonal cyclicity" in which rooftop solar installations drop in winter months, the report found. Stay-at-home-orders near the end of the quarter likely prevented the sector from adding even more capacity, according to SEIA and WoodMac.

Overall, residential installations are expected to drop 25% in 2020 compared to 2019, with a 26% growth in 2021, "as the market begins to experience a tepid recovery." Relative to the sector's 2019 review, the solar industry is expecting a 3.6 GW loss through 2025.

"While the utility segment shows promise with sustained levels of procurement so far, lower energy demand due to productivity loss and wholesale electricity market price drops will add to the uncertainty," Ravi Manghani, head of solar at Wood Mackenzie, said in a statement.

"All in all, the pandemic and the ensuing economic slowdown will weigh heavily on the solar industry in the coming months if the economy is slow to recover and financing dries up."

The solar and wind industries have been vying for the federal government to implement changes to the federal investment tax credit and production tax credit that give the sectors more flexibility on deadlines and allow those industries to secure financing more easily.

The Internal Revenue Service last month released guidance granting renewable energy projects that began construction in 2016 or 2017 another year to meet safe harbor deadlines for the production and investment tax credits, as well as a safe harbor extension for the solar investment tax credit.

06/08/2020

Calling all REIA members! The next meeting of the Board of Directors will be tomorrow, Tuesday, June 9, 2020 from 3:30 - 5:00 PM. All members welcomed to join.

Interested in becoming a REIA member? Email [email protected] for information

05/19/2020

Solar power can boost your home’s value — especially in these 10 states

PUBLISHED SAT, OCT 5 201910:30 AM EDT
UPDATED SUN, OCT 6 20197:54 AM EDT

Valentina [email protected]

KEY POINTS
Solar rooftop panels can boost your home’s value and lower an electricity bill.
Real estate information provider Zillow found that New Jersey, Pennsylvania and North Carolina offer the highest solar premiums in the country.
California became the first state in the U.S. to require all new homes to have solar panels on their roofs starting in 2020.

California will be the first state in the U.S. to require solar panels on all new homes starting 2020, but the legislation’s passage did not end the debate over a key question: Does the cost of installing solar pay off for homeowners?

Some developers are not even waiting for 2020 and are pressing ahead with solar-powered homes for what they say is the best reason: it is simply what best serves the homebuyer market matching energy demands to efficiency and cost. The state estimates the new solar power rule will help homeowners save about $19,000 in a 30-year period. Others say the mandate will push up housing costs too much for many homebuyers.

There’s another way to look at the question: Does adding solar power increase a home’s value at time of sale? According to real estate information company Zillow, in some states the answer already is yes. Zillow’s research indicates that in the same way homeowners are willing to pay thousands of dollars for renovations like a new kitchen or finished basement, they need to evaluate the return on investment from investing in solar energy.

Installing solar panels in a home not only helps to reduce current monthly utility bills; it can potentially increase the home’s value by up to 4.1% more than comparable homes with no solar panels, according to recent solar research done by Zillow — or an additional $9,274 for the median-valued home in the U.S.

Green houses
Recent natural disasters like the California wildfires, heat waves throughout Europe and extreme melt events have inspired many to seek more eco-friendly lives, including home buyers.

“There is increased demand for green living. More than 80% of buyers now say energy-efficient features are important in selecting their home,” said Sarah Mikhitarian, Zillow senior economist. “We are increasingly finding that these attributes are important to prospective homebuyers. This is part of the reason that there is a premium associated with it. The other piece is that there is true value provided by solar panels — namely, future energy savings.”

The energy savings depends in part on how a specific home consumes energy. For example, a home that features heated floors might see a greater premium from the addition of solar (though this was not a correlation Zillow specifically researched).

“For homeowners who know they consume a lot of power, those future savings are worth spending a bit more money up front,” Mikhitarian said.

To identify the solar premium in each state, Zillow compared the sale prices of homes with and without solar-energy systems listed for sale and sold within the research period — March 2018 and February 2019. The company examined all transactions that occurred and identified which homes featured solar panels in their listing descriptions, controlling for observable attributes including size, age, location, and market value at the time it was listed for-sale. Zillow also controlled for local market dynamics and the time of the year that the home sold.

In New Jersey, homes with solar panels can sell for 9.9% more than homes without solar-energy systems. That is a profit of $32,281 for the median-valued home in that state.

Here’s the top 10 states with the highest solar premiums, according to Zillow’s findings:

New Jersey: 9.9% or $32,281 for the median-valued home.
Pennsylvania: 4.9% or $8,589 for the median-valued home.
North Carolina: 4.8% or $8,996 for the median-valued home.
Louisiana: 4.9% or $7,037 for the median-valued home.
Washington: 4.1% or $15,916 for the median-valued home.
Florida: 4% $9,454 for the median-valued home.
Hawaii: 4% or $24,526 for the median-valued home.
Maryland: 3.8% or $10,976 for the median-valued home.
New York: 3.6% or $10,981 for the median-valued home.
South Carolina: 3.5% or $5,866 for the median-valued home.
However, solar premiums can vary within state lines.

While the solar premium for the state of Florida is 4%, it increases to 4.6% in Orlando, Florida.

In New York City the solar premium is 1.8% more than it is statewide, which translates to $23,989 more in value for the typical home in New York.

And in California there are major fluctuations within metro areas: while the solar premium statewide is 3%, in San Francisco, it increases to 4.4%, in Los Angeles to 3.6% , but in Riverside, the solar premium declines to 2.7%.

Other states like Utah, did not have enough homes with solar-energy systems installed to identify the solar premium.

Homeowners who made the solar switch
Lisa and Jerry Chretien, a couple from Cape May County, New Jersey, decided to lease solar rooftop panels from Sunrun a year ago. High utility bills and the desire to live cleaner and greener lives inspired them to make the decision. Since going solar in June 2018, the Chretien’s electric bills have decreased, especially in the summertime.

“As soon as we would open the pool and turn on the air conditioners in May … our electric bills would run close to $800, sometimes more,” said Lisa Chretien. “Saving money, especially with kids in college, has been a big help and a big saving. And there are a lot of incentives, tax wise you get a break. It has just been a plus all the way around.”

For Kerrie Lane, owner and operator of a cleaning service and resident of South Jersey, the experience was similar. After moving into her new home, she received her first electric bill: a staggering $1,100. Kerrie knew she needed to do something to make her electric bills affordable.

“I’m 60 years old, so I’m getting up there. I do a physical job for a living but I can’t do it forever. … So having my bills being manageable was very important to me,” Lane said. “My first electric bill in this house was $1,100. I knew I needed to correct this situation and make it manageable and Sunrun gave me the consistency that I was looking for. ”

A Sunrun spokesman said that assuming annual utility rate increases —the current national average utility rate increase per year is around 3% — solar customers see an average utility bill savings of anywhere from 10% to 40%. Solar contracts include a fixed price of energy per kilowatt/hour that is typically lower than utility rates in most regions across the U.S.

The Sunrun spokesman noted that customers still must pay basic utility infrastructure charges separate from the power generation cost, for wire maintenance, for example, and may also still use some power generation from the utility’s sources, depending on the size of their home and level of energy use, as well as the season. Seasonality is an issue for utilities too. In the summer, for example, prices tend to be higher to meet the demand, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Depending on their deal with Sunrun — which offers service plans, loans, prepayments and cash purchases — customers may also pay monthly charges to the company. Sunrun says that more than 85% of customers do not buy the system outright but pre-pay a set amount and then make monthly service plan payments.

We saw that there was an opportunity here to try and give the best of both worlds to our home buyers.
Brandon De Young, EXECUTIVE V.P. OF NET-ZERO ENERGY HOMEBUILDER DE YOUNG PROPERTIES

Residential home construction company De Young Properties in California built its first net-zero energy building in 2013 — that means it has the potential to produce as much clean energy as it would consumer on a yearly basis.

De Young began redesigning its traditional home prototype in 2008 in order to find a way to build comfortable, energy-efficient homes, at an affordable price. “We wanted to build better homes. We didn’t want to stagnate and just build the same home that my grandfather used to build because we felt that it was important to continue to progress,” said Brandon De Young, executive v.p. of the company, which has three decades of history.

“Basically, you either have to sacrifice your comfort for your energy bill or your energy bill for your comfort. And we saw that there was an opportunity here to try and give the best of both worlds to our home buyers,” said De Young.

Caveats
Many homeowners lease solar panels from companies including Sunrun and Tesla, meaning at time of a home sale the seller needs to buy out the lease or the seller needs to find a buyer who is willing to take over that lease. Solar leasing companies do provide services for transferring the lease. If the previous owner was entitled to state or federal tax credits related to the solar project, that financial incentive would not transfer to the new owner.

Like any home improvement, solar energy systems have a limited useful life. After 20 years or more, solar panels do generally start producing less energy and that would take away some of the value associated with the solar panels, which would likely be reflected in its premium for a specific home. But Zillow noted that this is similar to many other attributes of a home. For example, HVAC systems often need to be replaced after about 10 to 15 years, but people still highly value having air conditioning and are willing to pay a premium for it.

Investment tax credits offered by the federal government to invest in renewable energy projects including solar are scheduled to be phased out for residential homeowners in 2022, but the lobbying fight over this tax credit — currently as high as 30% — is ongoing. If phased out, it would take away one incentive for a homebuyer to purchase a solar system, though costs are coming down at the same time. Bill Gates recently remarked that solar and wind no longer need the support that other sources of renewable energy do and government incentives should be phased out, and he added that solar and wind companies should now be large enough to drive down costs through economies of scale.

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Representing clean energy NM jobs, REIA advocates on behalf of those New Mexico companies who are actively engaged in the business of renewable energy.

REIA advocates for the technology, financial incentive programs, public interest, and environmental policies that support continued growth in the renewable energy industry, This synergy creates more jobs, and a stronger, healthier economic future for New Mexico

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