There is never a dull moment in the U.S. solar industry.
Topping the news this week, troubled microinverter pioneer Enphase announced that it would lay off 11% of its global workforce, as part of a $20 million cost reduction initiative. The company has been reporting losses for several quarters, following a strategy to reduce prices to below the cost of production in a bid to gain market share.
Also this week, pv magazine USA revealed more details about the congressional investigation into cash grants and the federal Investment Tax Credit. Lawmakers in the House and Senate have sent letters of inquiry to eight companies, to look at whether or not U.S. companies were encouraged to sign leases regardless of the credit-worthiness of signatories, as well as investigating potential inflation of costs to obtain more funding.
But while this could portend future trouble for the solar industry, there was better news in other areas. Mortenson began work on 11 MW of community solar in Minnesota, as part of a long-awaited boom in community solar construction in the state. Additionally, Vote Solar, Earthjustice and local solar advocates are taking a fight over PURPA contracts to federal regulators, hoping to reopen land of the Big Sky to solar.
This week also revealed several big installations which have come online in the Mountain West, two of which have been kept secret for some time. In another PURPA contract in the Mountain West, pv magazine USA revealed that a previously under-reported 40 MW-AC PV plant in Idaho has come online, as the first large utility-scale project in the state to date to do so.
Meanwhile, in Arizona Apple announced the commissioning of a 40 MW plant which it had kept secret, which is selling power to utility SRP. And in Southern California, Tenaska put online its 150 MW Imperial Solar Energy Center West, which will sell power to SDG&E.
In the downstream space it was a good week for mounting companies, with SnapNRack announcing that it has supplied a cumulative 1 GW of solar projects, and GameChange racking reporting a deal to supply 100 MW of mounting systems for a utility-scale project.
Finally, Elon Musk dropped a bomb on Twitter by announcing that the new Tesla/SolarCity “solar roof” BIPV product will be unveiled in San Francisco on October 28.