LANSING – Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council (Michigan EIBC) President Liesl Eichler Clark praised another strong year for on-site solar and net metering in Michigan. The Michigan Public Service Commission’s (MPSC) recent report on net metering and solar pilot programs found another 20 percent increase in 2015. This comes after a 25 percent increase in 2014 and an 18 percent increase in 2013. The solar industry is growing ten times faster than the national economy reflecting continuing technology improvements and declining costs.
Though solar has grown in Michigan by double-digit percentages every year, there is still plenty of room left until the state reaches the 1 percent cap on the program. The only utility to reach this cap has been the Upper Peninsula Power Company. Consumers Energy and DTE, Michigan’s two largest utilities, have 94 and 83 percent of space remaining, respectively.
“Yet again, we are seeing that Michigan ratepayers are turning to solar power and on-site renewables,” said Clark. “As more and more homeowners and businesses make the switch, the solar contagion effect becomes increasingly apparent.”
As on-site solar and net metering has grown in popularity, more and more evidence suggests that net metering benefits all ratepayers, helping provide additional power in hot summer months, the peak demand time, and drive down overall costs.
“We are experiencing another great year for solar in Michigan and continued growth in public interest,” said Mark Cryderman of the Green Panel. “Calls and emails from interested customers are rising in Michigan, as citizens looking to reap the benefits of going solar. This is truly an exciting time to be an installer.”
Michigan is 33rd in total solar installations with 21 MW of solar currently installed (according to US Solar Market Insight from SEIA/GTM Research) while ranking in the top 20 for solar jobs with 2,779 jobs in Michigan of the 208,859 in the US (Solar Census from the Solar Foundation).
Solar is still impacted by a constantly changing policy environment. Congress reached a bipartisan decision in December 2015 to extend the solar investment tax credit for five years. The credit allows consumers to write off 30 percent of the project costs on their federal tax bill. Meanwhile, the state legislature is considering legislation that would change the current net metering policy.
“We need policy that reflects the power of the future, not the power of the past,” said Clark.