Home Solar Looking Good for 2012 Despite Solyndra

Solyndra’s messy and expensive collapse a few weeks ago dominated the news. This week, it’s been replaced by a bevy of solar positives. Bloomberg has some toes on the ground at the Solar Power International conference this week, and the ears above those toes caught some interesting info on home solar panel industry. Duke Energy’s James Rogers was quoted as noting that U.S. utilities, with their access to “low-cost capital” will have a leg up in expanding home solar options for consumers, especially if a carbon tax materializes. (Rogers is well known for being in favor of a carbon tax or a federal cap-and-trade option. His passion for renewables is common knowledge, though there is speculation that some of that passion has to do with the subsidies for those projects, which ups returns much higher than traditional energy sources.)

Whether Rogers is right or wrong about the utility position in the solar equation, there’s no doubt that activity in that arena continues to thrive. NextEra Energy Resources, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy and a sister company to Florida Power and Light, announced the commissioning of the Hatch Solar Center in New Mexico.

According to the company, the five-megawatt Hatch facility is comprised of 84 Amonix 60-kilowatt units and is the largest operating concentrated photovoltaic solar power plant in North America. NextEra Energy Resources owns and operates the plant and sells the power to El Paso Electric under a 25-year power purchase agreement.

Down in Georgia, sentiment over solar has changed the mindset of Public Service Commissioner Lauren McDonald. McDonald is pitching an interesting funding idea for solar charging Georgia Power customers a nickel a month on top of their current bill to put into a solar power rainy day fund, essentially.

AP reported that other members of the commission were surprised at McDonald’s new concept. McDonald is proposing a type of budget compromise, connecting what Georgia Power wants to pay to what developers say they need to make a profit on projects. No word on requiring Georgia Power to buy renewables, but one wonders what would happen to that pile of nickels without a solar mandate. And, since Georgia doesn’t have a renewable portfolio standard, utilities aren’t forced into a “must have” demand situation, making the world of solar building or any renewable building, really a bit of a risky business equation.

Still, it’s interesting that McDonald, a Republican, is pitching such a green/green idea (green cash for green energy). And, despite the dour trading of solar stocks recently, there still appears to be green cash in that sunny form of green energy. Google-backed SolarCity, which makes ground mount home solar systems, recently signed on Robert Kelly as the company’s CFO. Kelly managed Calpine’s 1996 IPO, so there’s industry speculation that SolarCity may be looking to bring its products public, pulling in key players to help with that option.

At the start of this month, it felt like Solyndra’s collapse was trumpeting the death of the solar subsidy, if not the solar industry altogether. As the end of this month approaches, it appears that Solyndra was just a minor glitch in the matrix and the solar industry has already moved on to bigger, brighter, greener pastures at least as long as the subsidies and renewable energy portfolio standards remain.

Source Elp