July 10, 2017

If you were to read only one thing…

NYT – Rooftop Solar Dims Under Pressure From Utility Lobbyists – Hiroko Tabuchi 7/8

  • “Over the past six years, rooftop solar panel installations have seen explosive growth — as much as 900% by one estimate.”
  • “That growth has come to a shuddering stop this year, with a projected decline in new installations of 2%, 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.”
  • “Prodded in part by the utilities’ campaign, nearly every state in the country is engaged in a review of its solar energy policies. Since 2013, Hawaii, Nevada, Arizona, Maine and Indiana have decided to phase out net metering, crippling programs that spurred explosive growth in the rooftop solar market. (Nevada recently reversed its decision.)”
  • “Many more states are considering new or higher fees on solar customers.”
  • “’We believe it is important to balance the needs of all customers,’ Jeffrey Ostermayer of the Edison Electric Institute, the most prominent utility lobbying group, said in a statement.”
  • “The same group of investor-owned utilities is now poised to sway solar policy at the federal level. Brian McCormack, a former top executive at the Edison institute, is Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s chief of staff.”
  • “Four years ago, the Edison institute, an industry group made up of the country’s largest investor-owned electric companies, declared that the business of generating electricity was in danger of being sucked into what has since become known as a ‘utility death spiral.’”
  • “As more consumers switched to rooftop solar and bought less electricity from the grid, the trade group worried in a 2013 document, the costs of running conventional coal, oil, gas or nuclear power plants would be shared among an ever-smaller customer base. That could cause rates to spike, chasing even more customers away.”
  • “Since then, the utilities have targeted state solar power incentives, particularly net metering, which credits solar customers for the electricity they generate but do not use and send back to the grid. That offsets the cost of electricity they may still buy from their local utility during cloudy days and at night, reducing or even eliminating their electricity bills.”
  • “Utilities argue that net metering, in place in over 40 states, turns many homeowners into free riders on the grid, giving them an unfair advantage over customers who do not want or cannot afford solar panels. The utilities say that means fewer ratepayers cover the huge costs of traditional power generation.”
  • “Utilities found a receptive audience in many states.”
  • “Arizona legislators voted in December to move away from net metering, lowering the credit solar customers receive for the excess energy they generate and limiting how long customers keep their favorable rates.”
  • “In Florida last year, the utility industry contributed more than $21 million to an ultimately unsuccessful ballot initiative to ban third-party sales or leasing of rooftop solar panels. A leaked audio recording appeared to reveal that the utility campaign deliberately misled pro-solar voters into voting for an anti-solar policy, a tactic one consultant called ‘political jujitsu.’”

Worthy Insights / Opinion Pieces / Advice

Bloomberg View – Has Asia Learned From the 1997 Crisis? – Michael Schuman 6/15

Economist – 3D printers will change manufacturing 6/29

WSJ – So Long, Hamburger Helper: America’s Venerable Food Brands Are Struggling 7/6

Markets / Economy

WSJ – Daily Shot: Gold Eagle – Most Googled Car/Truck by State 7/7

Bloomberg – These U.S. States Still Haven’t Fully Recovered From Recession – Steve Matthews and Catarina Saraiva 7/5

Finance

WSJ – Daily Shot: UK 5yr Government Bond Yield 7/6

  • The world is turning hawkish.

WSJ – Daily Shot: German 10yr Government Bond Yield 7/6

WSJ – Daily Shot: US 10yr Government Bond Yield 7/6

WSJ – Daily Shot: Canadian 5yr Government Bond Yield 7/6

WSJ – Daily Shot: Japan 10yr Government Bond Yield 7/6

Middle East

WSJ – Daily Shot: Saudi Arabia Bank Lending Growth 7/7

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