So we have a couple of businesses that worked more like a government than a business and an installer or two who perhaps got a little too close to their politicians. Quite frankly, this is the exception and not the rule. I think that solar energy is still a vibrant and wonderful business. Here are a couple of facts taken from SEIA (www.seia.org):
- The solar industry employs more than 100,000 Americans, more than twice as many as in 2009. They work at more than 5,000 companies, the vast majority being small businesses, in all 50 states.
- The U.S. solar industry grew by 69% in the past year, making it one of the fastest growing sectors in the U.S. economy.
- Since the beginning of 2010, the price of solar panels has dropped by 30%, and costs continue to fall making solar an even more viable choice for residential and business customers.
- The U.S. was a net exporter of solar products in 2010 by $2 billion. We were even a net exporter to China.
- Solar power in the U.S. now exceeds 3,100 megawatts (MW), enough to power more than 630,000 homes.
- Continued industry growth enhances our energy security and diversifies our domestic energy portfolio.
It is almost impossible to keep up with the changes occurring in technology, financing instruments, and available markets. Although some companies came into solar energy with an over-excited wallet, most investors have come in with reasonable expectations and have stayed in the business because those expectations have been met and surpassed. Over 600,000 homes have solar because it made sense to do so. In California and other states where the cost of energy increases the more you use it, solar has reduced home utility expenditures by shaving the higher rates with supplemental solar energy. In New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, and other states, solar energy often is used to completely eliminate the majority of the electricity bill where rates are up over $0.15 per kw. These numbers don’t even include the new installations that are done to remove homes from the power grid.
With news sources constantly looking for new stories and the reporters look for the big break to make a name for themselves, it seems they always turn to people, companies or industries where there has been success stories and try to break them down. The smart money is still pushing into solar projects and smart people are still trying to keep some control over their energy expenses and who is being enriched by their expenditures. More and more, people don’t want their money going into Middle Eastern bank accounts. The best way to get away from participation in that terrible cycle is to have energy independence. The best way to individually gain that independence is through solar energy. No other source of power is available to the individual home owner or business owner the way solar power is. No other energy source can provide the level of energy solar power can without major disruptions in the environment. This industry has a long way to go before it becomes “saturated”. If you haven’t considered solar power for your business or home, do it. The times have never been better!!