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Published on February 29th, 2016 | by Roy L Hales

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Will HB 2346 Lower Washington’s Solar Incentives?

February 29th, 2016 by  

Originally published on the ECOreport

Washington’s state solar incentives will expire on June 30, 2016. Though new legislation was introduced to the House in January, it went through considerable amendments before passing to the senate. This bill gives assurance to existing solar customers that their rates will remain fixed,  but also leaves many asking if will HB 2346 lower Washington’s solar incentives?

Will Washington Residents Get Lower Solar Incentives?

The Solar Installers of Washington (SIW) points to a study prepared by the Center for Economic and Business Research for Western Washington University that found, “Every dollar the state invests in production incentive payments generates approximately $7 in payroll and $16 in local economic activity. The majority of the incentive is actually returned directly to the state in the form of taxes.”

Though HB 2346 co-author Rep. Jeff Morris (Dem) acknowledged there is room to “shape the rates differently,” he appears to believe the subsidies are too high. The subsidies are creating so much demand that consumers can recoup their investment in four years.

“What I hear from the people that do the installations is that it is really the amount of recovery in the first six years that may have the biggest price point decision, whether folks get the system or not. I think we could up the rates in those first six years, It may be that we lower the recovery from 100% to a lesser amount,” he told the Senate Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee on February 24.

SIW wonders if the lower rates could stall the growth of Washington’s ’s solar industry.

HB 2346 co-author Rep. Norma Smith believes the state’s solar industry will be self sufficient when the incentives end in 2020.

Hazardous Materials

Smith’s primary concern appears to be handling the hazardous materials that are in solar panels. Smith acknowledged this is changing, “But until we get to the next generation … (solar panels) have a lot of materials that cannot go into a regular landfill.” Washington needs to have a recycling program for PV materials in place.

“It is important that we do not leave to our children the price tag of our consumption,” she said.

SHB 2346 is now in the senate’s hands.

Photo Credit: Screen Shot from Washington State Senate Committee Meeting


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About the Author

is the editor of the ECOreport (www.theecoreport.com), a website dedicated to exploring how our lifestyle choices and technologies affect the West Coast of North America and writes for both CleanTechnica and Planetsave on Important Media. He is a research junkie who has written over a thousand articles since he was first published in 1982. Roy lives on Cortes Island, BC, Canada.



  • Pat Campbell

    I just read the amended bill as of today. Our local Clark Public Utilities (CPU) started a community solar project. The shares were sold out immediately so more capacity was added in collocated projects which in turn quickly sold out. The incentives were rich and the actual performance so great that one’s $10K investment could reap $16K over 4 years. The problem became one of the incentives exceeding the money budgeted by law to pay them. If the performance of the project was less the budget would have worked out. (We were in a cloud deficit drought last year and in our part of the state the sun works a lot better than around Puget Sound. 🙂 ) Stuck with utility promised paybacks and an oversold (also included residential incentives) pot of incentives, CPU and other groups went to the legislature. If this passes, there will be a deadline placed on the rich incentives that basically honors those in the program now and incentives for future projects.
    Unfortunately, some bolted our community solar program when given the chance when it appeared the incentives could be discounted. They will be kicking themselves if this bill is signed into law by Governor Inslee.

  • What are these “hazardous materials” that are used in the manufacture of solar PV panels?

    note: while most panels are assembled in Washington state, to receive the state incentive, the actual cells used may be produced elsewhere. If there are concerns with material handling then those should be address outside the discussion for incentives.

    Nice to see the concerns of hazardous materials being deposited into landfills. Hopefully the same concerns wil be applied to “hazardous materials” from fossil fuel sources emit into the air and water.

    • vensonata .

      Cadmium is toxic until encased in the panel. But of course not all panels use it.

      • neroden

        Yep. Silicon solar panels are totally non-toxic. CdTe solar panels contain cadmium.

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