Collaboration Is Key to Our Solar Future

By:Tom Starrs

May 25, 2016

SunPower solar array

Editors Note: In 2020, SunPower announced the completion of the strategic spin-off of its manufacturing division into a separate business named Maxeon Solar Technologies, Ltd. As a result, SunPower has expanded its offerings to drive future growth. The SunPower Equinox® system now offers multiple panel options, including front- and back-contact panels, all of which are responsibly and rigorously quality tested to provide the best energy solution for your home.

Henry Ford once said, "Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success."

By all accounts, we've witnessed the best of multi-stakeholder collaboration when it comes to developing long-term strategies that promote clean energy adoption. The COP21 agreement and bipartisan extension of the U.S. Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for solar and wind energy are two recent examples.

On the state level, nowhere is this collaboration more visible than the Solar Progress Partnership, a recently-announced initiative between New York state-based electric utilities and solar companies.

The Partnership is recommending a structure to the State Public Service Commission that meets the market demand for solar, protects customer utility bill savings and ensures that utilities have the resources necessary to maintain the existing grid, among other provisions.

As we've covered on this blog, states across the country are assessing how best to move forward with solar net metering programs, which provide for excess solar electricity to be delivered back to the utility grid at favorable rates. Although different states have different approaches, net metering can make solar more affordable to customers while simplifying the process of managing energy flow to and from the grid.

Stated simply, energy is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. While we're in the midst of a transformative period of energy delivery and consumption, the global transition to cleaner sources will require innovative thinking and experimentation. We must continue to work together and bring all parties to the table to help accelerate broader grid transformation, ensure cost parity and reduce remaining barriers at a time when consumers and businesses are embracing solar.

It's worth noting this isn't a new concept. In 2014, SunPower released "Bridging the Divide: A Roadmap to Integrating Distributed Generation," a set of principles and best practices for adopting distributed energy resources. With the adoption of a collaborative approach in New York, it's satisfying to see what we've been advocating for be put into practice. SunPower will continue to convene these conversations.

At the end of the day, while it's critical that all stakeholders be involved in setting a forward-looking agenda, we must ensure that the customer is front and center in any public policy decisions related to solar adoption.

Although Henry Ford revolutionized transportation as we know it, the cars we drive and the roads we drive on are the result of extensive innovation by multiple stakeholders. For solar, we're undoubtedly beyond our Model T moment. Only by working together, and with consumer interests to navigate us, will we get where we need to go.