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The U.S. solar market will grow 119% this year, U.S. Solar Market Insight Report 2015 Year in Review from GTM Research along with the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). Residential and commercial markets will also experience strong growth. The report highlights that the U.S. is nearing its 1 millionth solar installation forecasting 16 GW of solar, which will be installed in 2016, more than doubling 7.3 GW installed in 2015.

“This is a new energy paradigm, and the solar industry officially has a seat at the table with the largest energy producers,” says Rhone Resch, president and CEO at SEIA. “Because of the strong demand for solar energy nationwide, and smart public policies like the ITC and NEM, hundreds of thousands of well-paying solar jobs will be added in the next few years, benefiting both America’s economy and the environment.”

According to the report, there are four key trends that will grow the solar industry in 2016:

  • Rollout of new community solar programs
  • New utility-led efforts to enable corporate procurement of off-site solar
  • Value of rooftop solar
  • Battery storage integration

Looking ahead to next year, the residential and non-residential PV markets are both expected to grow year over year.

“As the double-digit gigawatt utility PV pipeline is built out in 2016, utility solar is expected to experience a reset in 2017,” says Honeyman, noting that the market will shrink to a still-impressive 10 GW. “But between 2018 and 2020, the extension of the ITC will reboot market growth for utility PV and support continued growth in distributed solar as a growing number of states reach grid parity.”

The federal ITC provides a 30% tax incentive on all solar projects. In December 2015, Congress extended the credit out to 2019 with a stepdown through 2022 and a project completion deadline of 2023 for some projects. By 2021, GTM Research expects the U.S. solar market to surpass a cumulative 100 GW, with an annual install rate of 20 GW or more.

BRINGING FREE ENERGY TO YOUR HOME WITH SOLAR

Within the last 10 years, solar has shifted how people think about energy and the environment. Today, with its rapid growth, solar is the #1 renewable energy resource in America and is now more affordable and ever before. According to SEIA/GTM research, the average price for a system has dropped 53% since 2010. With government and local incentives, it’s the perfect formula for homeowners with high electric bills to capitalize and invest toward their house and the state’s carbon footprint. In 2014, solar has reduced 20 million metric tons of harmful CO2 emissions which is why it’s leading the path to a cleaner environment with less pollution.

What makes solar such a popular decision for homeowners is the return of investment they will gain from it. After all, home ownership is an investment to itself and adding solar can only add more value. Over 80% of homes that switched to solar have their investment returned in 7 years from the date of installation. So how can solar energy make a difference for you and your family? This question is determined by the lifestyle you have and how electricity is consumed in your house. Once a home switches to solar, it has potential to send energy back to LADWP. This is called Net Energy Metering (NEM).

NEM is a billing arrangement between you and LADWP that allows them to credit your account (in kW/h) for energy that your solar system is producing in excess of the electricity you need to use in your home. For example, on a sunny afternoon the solar system will generate power in kilowatts per hour (kW/h). If electricity is not being used in the house then the home’s meter will feed the energy produced by the solar system to LADWP’s grid crediting your account for every watt. Come evening when the family is home, heating and/or ac is active, television is on, the energy that was fed to the grid during the afternoon is returned back to the home as a credit. This how so many homeowners that install a solar system have been receiving close to a $0 electric bill.

How a home consumes their electricity will determine how much of a credit they will receive. Some households with solar have learned to leverage the NEM system by better managing their electricity usage to build a “bank” of energy credits which in return brings more savings to their utility expenses. Some households on the other hand aren’t concerned about being conservative but rather liberal with their electric usage and only want solar to add to their excessive electric consumption. They need the additional solar energy to handle the large amount of kW/h used in the home so they can keep their bill low by not exceeding the 1st or 2nd tier. Ultimately, a solar home with Net Energy Metering is a smart investment. It will substantially reduce electrics costs while improving the environment paving the way towards a sustainable future for the community and family.