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Solar installers concerned about losing market in Michigan

Courtesy of Kate Madigan

An industry group says some solar panel installers are thinking about leaving Michigan. That’s because they believe sales will drop dramatically because of a cap on how much residential and commercial solar a utility must allow.

A 2016 law sets a cap on some outside renewable energy sources  based on one percent from of a utility’s average peak demand. Consumers Energy is close to hitting that peak.

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Laura Sherman is the President of the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council. She says solar panel installers think that will mean residential and commercial solar power installations will end in much of Michigan.

“They’re trying to figure out how that can shift their business to other places because they don’t see there’s a market in Michigan anymore,” Sherman said.

There is bi-partisan legislation that would remove the caps and restore a higher rate of compensation that ended with the 2016 law. Consumers Energy opposes that legislation.

“We’ve been pushing the legislature to fix this. We can have a longer conversation about how much that solar is worth down the road. But it doesn’t seem reasonable to us to just curtail a market entirely,” Sherman said.

A statement from Consumers Energy if the cap is met, it doesn’t mean solar installations have to stop or that they can’t be hooked to the grid and paid for excess power. But, reaching the cap means the utility will not pay as much. Some estimates indicate solar power will get about half the rate currently paid.

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Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Public from 1998-2010.
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