Thursday, March 3, 2016

Will HB 2346 Lower Washington’s Solar Incentives?

Screen Shot 2016-02-24 at 1.47.59 PM

The ECOreport looks at the amended HB 2346 and asks, Will Washington residents get lower solar incentives?
By Roy L Hales
Washington’s solar incentives will expire on June 30, 2016. Though new legislation was introduced to the House in January, it went through considerable amendments before passing to the senate. In its’ present form HB 2346 gives consumers the assurance their solar incentive payments will remain fixed for years to come, but leaves many asking should Washington residents get lower solar incentives?

Will Washington Residents Get Lower Solar Incentives?

The Solar Installers of Washington (SIW) points to a study prepared by the Centre for Economic and Business Research for Western Washington University, that found, “Every dollar the state invests in production incentive payments generates approximately $7 in payroll and $16 in local economic activity. The majority of the incentive is actually returned directly to the state in the form of taxes.”
Though HB 2346 co-author Rep. Jeff Morris (Dem) acknowledged there is room to “shape the rates differently,” he appears to believe the subsidies are too high.  They are creating so much demand that  consumers can recoup their investment in four years.
“What I hear from the people that do the installations is that it is really the amount of recovery in the first six years that may have the biggest price point decision, whether folks get the system or not. I think we could up the rates in those first six years, It may be that we lower the recovery from 100% to a lesser amount,” he told the Senate Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee on February 24.
SIW wonders if the lower rates could stall the growth of Washington’s ’s solar industry.
HB 2346 co-author Rep. Norma Smith believes the state’s solar industry will be self sufficient when the incentives end in 2020.

Hazardous Materials

Her primary concern appears to be handling the hazardous materials that are in solar panels. Smith acknowledged this is changing,  “But until we get to the next generation … (solar panels) have a lot of materials that cannot go into a regular landfill.” Washington needs to have a recycling program in place.
“It is important that we do not leave to our children the price tag of our consumption,” she said.
SHB 2346 is now in the senate’s hands.
Photo Credit: Screen Shot from Washington State Senate Committee Meeting


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