Last summer, solar thermal electricity generation was one of the hottest sectors for investing. But after two years of unprecedented growth at 50 percent or more for solar panel installations, sales of residential solar systems have dropped 7 percent in the past three months. Many residential customers have canceled or postponed their plans due to the economic down turn, Rocky Mountain News reports.
Now, many of Colorado’s 200 or so solar companies are trying to figure out how to change course in a deteriorating economy. In the Front Range area alone, there are more than 100 solar companies, many with fewer than five employees. Industry insiders say too many players in the solar industry have squeezed profit margins and in some cases created doubts about the quality of the installations.
Although solar installers are encouraged to receive certification, Jeff Scott of Denver-based SolSource told Rocky Mountain News that “only about 20 companies really know what they are doing.”
Compounding the decline in solar installations is Xcel Energy’s sudden cut in solar rebates in October – to $1.50 per watt from $2.50 per watt in the past.
SolSource says its now installs about five residential solar panel installation compared with 20 a month in November.
However, things look brighter for California, which reported record number of solar panel installations in December, thanks to the state’s subsidies and rebates.