California dispute over solar could impact design professionals

On Behalf of | Feb 10, 2022 | Design Professional Malpractice

Design professionals make their living on creating. That includes being at the forefront of innovation and advancement. With the recently passed infrastructure bill and a growing reliance on sustainable energy, a significant amount of resources is being poured in projects that are efficient, cost-controlled and beneficial to the climate. In California, solar energy has long been a pet project that has been limited by regulations and legal wrangling. There was hope that solar incentive programs would advance its use and serve as a catalyst for more people to take the plunge. However, there may be changes to these programs that could hinder design professionals as they seek to take advantage of a burgeoning market. Those who had invested or were set to move forward should be aware of this ongoing dispute.

Market might be halved by changes to solar incentives

People who decided to use solar were set to receive payments for any excess power generated. Recently, it was revealed that the California Public Utilities Commission has plans to lower those payments. In addition, customers would need to pay a monthly fee. This would mean it will take more time than was expected for the solar installation and usage to pay for itself. Often, people think about how long they will have before a project of any kind benefits them financially. If the financial benefit no longer exists, then this could diminish the number of people using solar and damage design professionals who might have been creating homes and other projects based on more people making the switch.

Instead of taking up to six years for it to pay off, the changes – if implemented – would take 14 to 15 years. This is a significant adjustment. It is important to note that this is simply an analysis and the debate is ongoing. The number of people who would install solar is expected to decrease significantly if this is proven to be the case. Solar companies, legislators and those who are pushing for renewable energy are fighting the proposal. Another issue is the Investment Tax Credit which is set to lower at the start of 2023.

Design professionals must be prepared for every potential roadblock

This is an example of regulatory and political issues bleeding into how businesses prepare for the future. With design professionals who might have been getting ready for an influx of projects related to the rising popularity of solar energy, this is undoubtedly worrisome. There may be contracts in place, financial outlays and fear as to what this might mean. Having assistance with this is imperative and consulting with those who are experienced in the legal aspects of design, business and regulation can be helpful.