What’s in store for 2012?
In many ways, 2012 is a threshold year for solar energy policy. In certain places — areas with high electricity prices and well-nurtured solar markets — grid parity is essentially upon us.
That’s the holy grail — unsubsidized solar markets. And new low price points for solar panels opened the door for solar in even the most politically challenging states. Cost is our biggest barrier, and lower prices leads to larger scale. At the same time, success has led to new challenges. Hot solar markets are, in some instances, receiving pushback from utilities concerned about competition. And with deep levels of grid penetration, our regulatory infrastructure and grid management protocols are in dire need of overhaul. In order to deal with challenges like overwhelmed interconnection queues and integrating large amounts of variable resources, we are going to need new ways of thinking about how to tap tools like demand-side management and create effective markets for energy storage. Finally, despite overwhelming and bipartisan support among voters, solar is being used as a political punching bag in an election year — an unwelcome development that brings well-financed opposition.
In short: the game is changing. Low prices bring new opportunities for scale, but bigger scale brings an entirely new set of challenges. Now is the time to push harder — but smarter — than ever on solar progress in this country. Here is Vote Solar’s roadmap for success: our 2012 workplan, here (pdf).
It’s an ambitious gameplan, and to execute, we’re pleased to announce some staff changes. Annie Carmichael has returned to us, and she’s joined by Rick Gilliam in our new Boulder office. Annie will work on intermountain and mid-west state solar campaigns, and we couldn’t be more pleased to have her back.
Rick is our new Research Director–a new position to bring a heavy dose of analysis, knowledge of the innerworkings of utilities, and energy market sophistication to our efforts. Rick’s past service with Public Service Colorado, the Law and Water Fund of the Rockies (now Western Resource Advocates) and more recently with SunEdison will serve him (and us) in good stead. Rick’s been a great friend and mentor over the years, and we are thrilled to have an opportunity to work directly with him.
Finally, we are pleased to announce the addition of Hannah Muller Masterjohn, formerly with the DOE Solar Cities program. Hannah’s working out of New York, where she will be leading efforts on east coast state campaigns and community solar. We’ve long been a fan of Hannah, and feel lucky to have scooped her up.
Finally, Gwen Rose is now our COO. A well-deserved promotion to a superlative individual. About time we had someone who knows what she’s doing running the joint.