Rhone Resch, the head of SEIA, the U.S. solar industry's national trade association, joined a panel at today's sold-out and standing-room-only solar event in San Francisco, California. The organization is looking to focus more on the state level and to speak with one voice across multiple platforms.
Resch spoke of how the solar industry must be even more organized with the increasing number of people and organizations like The New York Times or the oil industry pushing back against the greater use of solar. The head of SEIA informed the crowd of solar executives that:
- The U.S. will be a 10-gigawatt solar market in 2015
- Not all smart meters are enabled for net-metering. (Resch observed this on his own not-so-smart meter.)
- SolarWorld is filing a trade claim in the EU as well as the U.S.
- SEIA believes that there is a good chance of getting the 1603 cash grant program extended. He said that "1603 is a big deal and we need to let our voice be known." He noted that it went through last year and if it goes through this year, it will happen in classic Washington, D.C. fashion as part of a tax-extender bill. Resch noted that the Super Committee is going to support a tax extenders bill that applies across 100 different taxes supported by Republicans and Democrats. "We'll see an extenders bill created in December and possibly passed early next year," along with a retroactive grant, according to Resch.
Resch commented that in addition to the potential loss of the tax grant, the lack of tax equity, and the stink of Solyndra, another threat to the U.S. solar industry is "a suite of market-access issues," including caps on wholesale DG, net metering caps, as well as a shift on how utilities will work with solar from interconnection delays to charging for grid-connected solar. "What if homeowners have to pay $60 per month to generate their own power?" asked Resch.
Resch said that Congressman Cliff Stearns, one of Solyndra's inquisitors, sees solar as "interesting."
Resch said that presidential candidates will yell about taking an aggressive stance with China, while an actual statesman like President Obama has to be more measured and consider the U.S.-China relationship. Resch also said that there was room in the trade case for the two countries to negotiate.