“There are decades when weeks happen, and weeks when decades happen.” While no one is sure of the source of this quote, popularly attributed to V.I. Lenin, it is certainly true that there are times of more rapid change in the world, and the solar industry is no exception.
This week was a particularly intense one in the U.S. solar industry, with important developments on the regulatory front, a ton of second-quarter financial results, a new direction for SolarCity, and some bad news about coming losses and layoffs in Denver.
Topping the list: After dragging the matter out for three days, late last night Arizona regulators approved a proposed ruling that will allow net metering to continue to exist in the territory of UNS, with only minor modifications to rate structures, until a value of solar study concludes.
UNS is not a particularly large utility, but the case was closely watched as a potential precedent for other rate cases at larger utilities including TEP and APS. Advocates have described the ruling as a win for the industry and evidence-based policymaking.
Second, this week pv magazine USA learned that power company NRG is moving to acquire a substantial portion of SunEdison’s projects under development. The company’s offer will start a bidding process, but SunEdison’s new management seems eager to accept the NRG bid, which comes in at less than 10 cents per watt.
Even among these big developments, Elon Musk and the Rive brothers managed to stay in the headlines. SolarCity dropped a bomb in its quarterly results call this week, revealing that a “large part” of the production at its new gigafactory in Buffalo will go to making a BIPV solar roof product. Few details were available, however analysts note that the residential BIPV market is currently “non-existent”.
Unfortunately, this was not the only bomb that fell. SMA has revealed that it will close its inverter production facility in Denver and lay off 280 workers, and while SunPower’s layoffs will be in the Philippines, the high-efficiency module maker and developer is shifting operations in light of a reduced forecast and expected losses through the end of 2017.
These last three revelations came on quarterly results calls, as many of the industry’s largest companies reported Q2 financials. SolarCity’s headline-making BIPV news may have distracted from the company’s very uneven results, which show major cash burn and higher losses than revenues, as the company’s proposed merger with Tesla awaits the blessing of shareholders.
Meanwhile Sunrun for its part finished strong in the quarter, showing growth but still high prices in its installer network, and Vivint Solar bounced back with strong growth and improved operational results, as it struggles to overcome the damage done by the failed SunEdison acquisition.
And finally, AEE released a report which shows the barriers to corporate procurement of solar and wind, noting that California – yes, California – and Texas have the most potential to increase purchase of renewable power by business customers if they improve policies.
Check out these stories and more on the pv magazine USA website, and we look forward to seeing you next week!