Monday, July 13, 2015

Greenwashing: Sunrun Responds To Op-Ed But Dodges Questions About TPO Subsidization

Sunrun responded to the op-ed piece Marco Mangelsdorf and I wrote which appeared last week in GreenTech Media and in yesterday's Star-Advertiser.  Click here for Sunrun's rebuttal.  While Bryan Miller, Sunrun's Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Power Markets, can rail on HECO's inadequacies to interconnect the rooftop systems he sells, he dodges and fails to address the central theme of our op-ed piece, justification for continued ratepayer and public subsidization for the third party ownership (TPO) business model.

TPO's are highly reliant on three critical factors:

  1. Utility retail electricity rates and the premise that electricity rates will rise each year
  2. Federal and state investment tax credits
  3. Barriers to entry which reduces competition

The MIT Future of Solar Energy report succinctly touches on these factors:
Third-party owners [TPO] of PV systems generally need to operate on a large scale to realize the value of these provisions [investment tax credits], which creates a barrier to entry. In addition, because there is generally little price competition between third-party installers, PV developers often are not competing with one another to gain residential customers, but with the rates charged by the local electric distribution company. 
Getting to 100% renewables is aspirational and a huge technical and economic challenge as the grid becomes more saturated with intermittent resources like solar and wind.  We can get there through smart and cost-effective investments on both the customer side and utility side of the grid, not greenwashing and hyperbole to protect the self-interest of a business model not based in rational economics.

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