Public Energy Policy Sets the Stage

a guest post by Ken Whiteside, Director of Business Development at ONTILITY, LLC.

Public Energy Policy Sets the Stage

The three necessary components for renewable energy success: innovative technology, reliable financial tools and sound public policy, have been written about quite a bit by me and others. Technological innovation continues, adhering nicely to Moore’s Law, and better financial tools are providing new ways to pay for projects and capitalize companies. (The recent rush to securitize solar assets, however, is in my opinion looking a bit too frothy, but that’s another story.) Today, let’s look at a public policy success, or at least what appears to be a success.

Minnesota, not one of the sun-belt states this time, is raising the bar in its paving the way for more renewable energy systems. Last year the legislature there set renewable energy goals including 10% solar by 2030, passed enabling legislation in the form of a progressive Renewable Portfolio Standard, and set the stage for a solar energy boom. The details are too extensive to fully review here. They are indeed ambitious yet quite realistic. Given current trends and solid projections for solar energy prices and production per dollar invested, and the myriad of other factors impacting the electricity generation and distribution landscape, Minnesota’s goals and mechanisms for achieving them are quite reasonable.

Is the plan working? While way too early to tell for sure, the short, anecdotal answer is yes. Even before the new legislation took effect on January 1st, contractors were anticipating a rise in demand for solar energy system installation. Contractors began calling last fall, asking about solar design services, equipment prices, and training for crews. Now just a few weeks into the new year, the activity, as measured by phone calls and email inquiries, is definitely on the rise.

While it’s certainly too soon to tell, at this early stage it looks like good public policy is doing what it is supposed to do – set the stage for growth and incent business to move in new directions.

Ken Whiteside photo Ken Whiteside has been a fan of solar energy for decades. His first hands-on experience was installing solar on off-grid houses around Telluride, Colorado in the 1990’s (summer in the San Juan Mtns. - somebody had to do it). From his home in Austin, Ken writes and works for widespread adoption of solar electricity, smart energy production and use, and sustainability.

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