In this week’s Solar News Roundup, we take a look at some of the important changes in Congress relating to renewable energy, as well as a battery price reduction announcement from Panasonic and Pika Energy.
What do the 2018 midterm elections mean for clean energy?
Clean energy held the spotlight in several midterm election races this year, resulting in several shifts in the landscape of elected officials concerned with renewables. Here are some of the important takeaways from this year’s elections:
The Climate Solutions Caucus, a House of Representatives group, lost a significant portion of its Republican officials. While the caucus can continue to exist, the lack of bipartisan membership returning to the group necessitates a restructuring. These changes are a mixed bag for clean energy – while a smaller, weaker Climate Solutions Caucus may lead to slower climate action in Congress, a Democratic-controlled House of Representatives can launch efforts tackling climate change without bipartisan support.
Voters in Nevada elected to approve a 50 percent renewable portfolio standard (RPS) requiring the state to use 50 percent renewable energy by 2030. The measure has the potential to generate millions of dollars for the state, as well as thousands of new jobs. Voters also elected to keep the retail electricity market regulated, a position backed by the Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council. These groups, among others, argued that deregulating Nevada’s electricity market would have an adverse effect on clean energy adoption in the state.
While Nevada adopted a 50 percent RPS, Arizona rejected one. Regulators are reportedly still considering an 80 percent RPS by 2050 that would include nuclear power, a key reason why the state’s largest utility, Arizona Public Service, came out against this year’s RPS proposition.
The State of Washington rejected a carbon tax for the second time in a row, in a potential signal that states alone won’t be able to lead the climate action fight in the absence of federal government support.
On the other hand, California voters chose to keep their state’s gas tax in place. Revenue from the gas tax provides funding for road repairs, bike paths, and state parks, among other recipients.
Panasonic and Pika Energy lower the price of Harbor Smart batteries
Solar battery adoption is accelerating, but for many prospective buyers, the high upfront cost of storage remains a barrier. Panasonic and Pika Energy recently reduced the prices of their Harbor Smart products, potentially helping to accelerate storage adoption. While specific prices were not available, Panasonic and Pika say that they were able to reduce prices by up to $1,700 for their batteries through manufacturing enhancements and supply chain efficiencies.
“Our mission is to provide efficient, reliable and secure power sources to those who need it most. The Harbor Plus and Harbor Flex Smart Batteries provide homeowners with access to stored energy in the face of a severe weather incident and extended grid outages,” said Mukesh Sethi, the general manager Panasonic’s solar and energy storage division. A cost reduction like Panasonic’s and Pika’s looks to bring the resiliency, peace of mind, and savings benefits to more property owners, especially in the face of natural disasters and increased grid outages in parts of the country.