-Electricraft, Inc. a leading San Luis Obispo solar company, has released a report that summarizes the impact of COVID-19 on California’s solar industry. A recent survey by the California Solar and Storage Association (CALSSA), reports that while 92-percent of solar and energy storage businesses are reporting negative impacts on their operations as a result of COVID-19 interest in solar energy as a viable economic and green energy source is soaring.
The interest is spread across a wide breadth of residential, government and commercial consumers looking to save money and benefit from reliable clean energy. According to a CALSSA survey, as of May 2020, COVID-19 has contributed to a reduction of 15,600 solar related jobs in California during the first six weeks of the pandemic. At the same time California solar companies were reporting projects waiting to get underway. The critical component is taking steps now to that will support the California solar industry.
The Solar Energy Industrial Association (SEIA) reports that as of 2019 California was still leading the nation in solar energy. The most impressive statistics include:
- Enough solar installed to power 7.8 million homes
- Over 20-percent of California’s electrical energy comes from solar
- The solar industry contributed to almost 75,000 jobs
- Solar investments in California topped $67 million
- Prices fell over 40-percent in the past five years
- Over 1.1 million solar installations
These statistics indicate a strong forecast for solar energy jobs and a continued savings benefit to the consumer. The critical step, at this juncture, is how to move forward in a manner that guarantees Californian’s a return on their investment in solar energy and that will rebound solar energy jobs to the benefit of local economies.
CALSSA has developed an eight-point plan of action aimed at informing and guiding policymaking with short and longer-term steps including:
- Expanding and extending the Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC): United States Congress must extend the ITC beyond its current sunset dates to allow consumers to take advantage of clean energy. Currently, the ITC provides consumers with a 26% credit for solar and energy storage systems in 2020, steps down to 22% in 2021, and expires for residential systems in 2022 and lowers to 10% for commercial systems that same year.
- Launching the Resilient Schools Initiative: Petition the state to create a program that would equip K-12 public schools with clean and resilient solar-charged batteries. The initiative would be funded through state revenue bonds for energy storage at schools, which the state can issue without ballot approval. Bonds will be repaid by energy savings in school utility costs and energy market revenue. Revenue bonds will not have a state budget impact in the first five years of the program while immediately financing as much as $900 million in construction.
- Cutting red tape through “no touch” permitting, which would provide local building departments with technical support and grants to adopt virtual (no touch) permitting for solar and other clean energy technologies. No touch technology already exists from free online portals such as the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s SolarAPP, that provides instant and standardized permitting, as well as virtual inspection practices. “No touch” permitting is not only safe during a pandemic as it is “no touch” but it also cuts soft costs for permitting and inspection agencies, for installers, and ultimately for the consumer, adding to the affordability of solar energy.
- Launching the “One Million Solar-Charged Batteries Initiative:” Fourteen years ago California embarked on an initiative that led to California producing three time the amount of clean energy that was originally anticipated. California must once again spearhead an initiative for energy storage. The California Energy Commission must administer a new statewide program to incentivize battery installations that will lead to a million customer-sited batteries. The funding can be included in a stimulus bond on the November ballot. a simple tax credit for consumers, or a program funded by federal stimulus dollars. The estimated program budget is $700 million over three years, with additional funding needs assessed at a later date.
- Unleashing the power of existing ratepayer storage and equity programs: Simplify the current Self Generation Incentive Program (SGIP), managed by the California Public Utilities Commission so that its complicated procedures no long deter consumers to invest in energy storage and other clean energy technologies.
- Removing utility barriers for connecting solar and storage systems: Streamline utility companies review of proposed installations for grid safety, or remove the review altogether. The current process often creates unnecessary delays and the utility companies’ agreement to make changes has been slow.
- Increasing efforts to reduce the dependency on natural gas in buildings: Give consumers an incentive to invest in technology neutral and zero-carbon technologies such as heat pumps and solar hot water systems as well as all electric appliances The framework already exists for the Building Decarbonization Pilot Programs administered by the CEC and the CPUC, but there is not enough funding in those pilots for consumer rebates.
- Protecting clean energy from unnecessary local taxes by ensuring financed distributed solar and solar storage systems for new buildings and building retrofits that qualify for the state sales and use tax exemption and retain the maximum rate of ad valorem tax on real property to 1% of the full cash value even if there is a subsequent change in ownership.
The San Luis Obispo solar company, Electricraft, is committed bringing the best electrical and solar installation services to the California Central Coast. A local company since it was founded in 1984, by local resident Jon Treder, the company and all of its team has been to provide superior quality of service based in experience and expertise in the latest technologies. The mission is to ensure complete satisfaction to our customers for the long term. Through continued education, hands-on experience and staying in tune with ever-changing electrical technologies Electricraft continues to excel in the solar energy industry.
200 Suburban Rd., Suite A
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401