Is TASC splintering the rooftop solar industry?
A leading solar advocacy group is drawing criticism from its own industry
st as the utility sector begins to embrace solar, the solar industry itself appears to be splintering, with once-allied companies being divided by contentious electricity policy issues on both the national and state level.
Earlier this month, Sunnova, a leading residential installer, sent a letter to congressional leaders advocating for the expiration of the current 30% investment tax credit (ITC) for solar projects, putting it at odds with the Solar Electric Industries Association (SEIA), the main national solar trade group that has launched an aggressive campaign for ITC renewal.
That divide in the industry was widely reported in national business press, but many of the issues at the state level regarding utilities and solar valuation have driven wedges into the industry just as deep as the ITC disagreement. The behavior of one national advocacy group – The Alliance for Solar Choice – has come under special scrutiny lately.
While the new contention is a sign the industry is maturing, internal divides could weaken the sector’s ability to win favorable public policies – a capability crucial for a sector that still only supplies about 1% of U.S. electricity generating capacity.
TASC and distributed solar split
From Maine to Hawaii, dozens of states have regulatory proceedings open that concern the value of solar, whether it be a net metering docket or an attempt to find a more comprehensive valuation mechanism.
The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC) has been a major intervenor in a number of such proceedings since its founding in April 2013, aggressively lobbying for the preservation of retail rate net metering and other pro-solar policies.
TASC’s backers say its tactics get results, but others decry its behavior in regulatory dockets as counterproductive to utility-solar dialogue.
TASC did not reply to repeated requests for comment from Utility Dive on the allegations raised throughout this piece.
The tension engulfing solar is widely thought to have begun in the 2013 Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) debate over a fixed charge for solar owners.
“TASC was instrumental in that debate and all the efforts after 2013,” observed Nancy LaPlaca, who was an ACC Policy Advisor at the time and is working for the North Carolina clean energy advocacy group NC WARN.