By Amit Ronen
The solar energy world is buzzing about community solar. The concept, which also goes by the now interchangeable designations of shared solar and solar gardens, has even attracted mainstream attention. An Associated Press headline last March declared “New concept in solar energy poised to catch on across US”, and similar articles have recently graced publications such as the Washington Post and USA Today.
Many solar supporters say the loss or reduction of the credit will be a ‘cliff’ for the industry. But others say the credit’s impact is overstated and solar will continue to grow.
The five-year investment tax credit (ITC) extension was a strong victory for solar, but is not completely safe from being dismantled by a future US president, according to Amit Ronen, director of the George Washington University Solar Institute. Ronen was involved with some of the ‘behind-the-scenes’ push for the recent ITC extension and authored the 2008 8-year ITC extension when he worked for Senator Cantwell.
Solar power has been criticized for helping the wealthy and punishing the poor. Some groups — largely, it should be noted, utilities and advocacy groups funded by fossil fuel interests — say only affluent people can afford solar, leaving less-affluent people to pay more than their share for the grid.