Ballot Win in Florida Emboldens the Solar Industry: ‘Voters Have Spoken Very Loudly’
Florida’s utility industry steered more than $20 million of its profits into a failed constitutional amendment to impose new barriers to the expansion of rooftop solar energy generation, but developers say that as the cost of installing solar panels drops, the state could quickly become a leader in private solar energy expansion no matter what the energy giants do.
The Florida Solar Energy Industry Association estimates that over the next five years, Florida homeowners, businesses and utilities are projected to take advantage of the falling prices and install 2,315 megawatts of solar electric capacity — 19 times more than the amount of solar installed in the last five years.
“Solar prices are in free-fall, and no one knows where the bottom is,” said Chris Delp, an attorney with the Tampa law office of Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick.
The coming weeks offer big new showcases for the humble electric vehicle.
Automakers, rushing to meet tightening emissions standards, are unveiling new battery-powered vehicles at the Los Angeles Auto Show this week, mirroring last month’s flood of such cars from European companies. These curtain-raisers will be followed by first shipments of General Motors Co.’s Chevrolet Bolt, a $35,000 Tesla fighter that goes on sale next month.
What’s missing are consumers, however. Automakers are suffering from a glut of U.S. sedan and coupe inventory amid strong demand for light trucks. The coming addition of electric-vehicle capacity could worsen that oversupply if shoppers continue to prefer pickups and sport-utility vehicles to plug-in cars.
Disappointed by the outcome of the U.S. election? If moving to Canada isn’t practical, Barclays Plc suggests an alternative: parking your money in utilities based there.
Shares of U.S. power suppliers have tumbled on speculation that interest rates will climb now that Donald Trump has won the presidency, limiting the appeal of the sector’s steady dividends. Rates in the Great White North will probably stay low in comparison, making Canadian utilities like Emera Inc. a better value, Barclays analysts Ross Fowler and Daniel Ford wrote Friday in a research note.
There has been a lot of angst in the renewable power sector over what the Trump presidency will mean, but according to a Trump insider, renewable energy will not be in the new president’s sights when he takes office in January.
The day after the election, shares of solar power companies like SolarCity, SunPower and Vivint Solar cratered, as did wind turbine maker Vestas, while shares of coal company Peabody Energy jumped more than 50%. But those drastic movements may not prove to be an accurate reflection of the realities the energy sector will face under Trump’s presidency.
“Energy is not one of the top five agenda items” on Trump’s to-do list when he takes office in January, according to a major Trump financial contributor who said he is a member of the transition team and spoke on the condition of anonymity.