- By the middle of 2014, Missouri’s installed solar capacity will jump from last year’s 39 megawatts to near 110 megawatts. Growth has been driven by a 2008 voter-mandated utility rebate program that also created a 15%-renewables-by-2021 Renewable Energy Standard. The $2 per watt rebate, with the 30% investment tax credit and rapidly falling solar module prices, drove growth so fast that legislators, with solar leaders’ backing, cut the rebate for this year to $1.50 per watt as part of a six-year phase out.
- When growth still threatened to exceed the 1%-of-ratepayer-bills program cap, Kansas City Power & Light (KCP&L) and Ameren asked Democratic Governor Jay Nixon to suspend it. The $175 million compromise rebate fund agreed to by utilities and solar leaders to avoid that suspension is nearly used up and the state’s solar industry has now begun to flounder.
- Some state legislators want to revive the rebate program, at least for schools and non-profits. Others propose rebating to solar as an efficiency measure under Missouri’s energy efficiency resource standard. But there does not appear to be enough time left in this year’s session to push a bill through.
Ironically, solar advocates may now look more charitably on the KCP&L obstacles to interconnection that last year slowed and frustrated them. The first indicator that solar players saw this coming was when Brightergy, Missouri’s leading solar installer, last year partnered with Capstone to add microturbine sales and installation to its business. The less farsighted or nimble among Missouri’s solar installers are now downsizing.
While solar leaders are calling for relief from the “solar roller coaster” of boom and bust, Governor Nixon is talking up a long term state energy policy that will do nothing to save a fast-fading solar industry.