Solar energy solutions are no longer economically out of reach; in fact, this newly affordable technology is quickly gaining popularity among the middle class.
The falling photovoltaic panel and equipment prices and the availability of federal and state incentives and rebates means a surprising number of U.S. residents now can afford to make the move to solar power.
Solar Energy Growth in Middle Class Neighborhoods
According to a recent report from the Center for American Progress (CAP), an independent nonpartisan educational institute, the adoption of solar energy solutions grew phenomenally among the middle class from 2011 to 2012.
CAP analyzed photovoltaic installation data from several states and concluded that an overwhelming majority of system installations occurred in neighborhoods with median annual incomes ranging from $40,000 to $90,000. This data proves that photovoltaic power has moved beyond the early adopter stage, when it was inaccessible to all but the wealthiest Americans.
Today, PV technology has become a widespread — and popular — solution among every strata of the middle class.
Concerns within the Utility Industry
With the adoption of solar power rapidly spreading across the country, private and municipal power companies are growing more concerned.
Though alternative energy sources such as wind and solar currently account for only a small percentage of the electricity produced in the United States, they are responsible for almost 75 percent of our country’s new energy capacity. Sustained future growth at this rate will ultimately affect utility company business models and erode their profitability.
As more and more U.S. residents produce some or all of their own power, decreasing the amount of electricity they buy from the grid, the utilities will be forced to raise their rates. And as rates increase, more people will turn to solar.
Some industry analysts refer to this as the “utility death spiral,” but few are likely to mourn the loss of electric utility price gouging.
Future Solar Energy Policy Changes
Thanks to the threat of the death spiral, the utility industry has begun questioning some solar-related policies, and net metering is at the heart of the debate. With net metering, the power companies are required by law to purchase excess electricity produced by customers’ photovoltaic systems.
Naturally, the power companies would like to see this policy changed, as many solar customers produce more than enough energy to meet their own needs. Fortunately, those who understand the underlying monetary motivations of the utility companies are fighting back and maintaining the status quo.
In Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Nevada and Idaho, Intermountain Wind & Solar specializes in helping homeowners and businesses save big money on energy costs while developing true energy independence. Contact us today to get the facts for yourself about the real cost of photovoltaic solar energy solutions.