The number of San Diegans installing solar panels has been slowing throughout the first half of 2017, according to data released this week by OhmHome, a green tech advisory firm.
According to research analyst Casey Anderson, there are several factors to explain a 39 percent drop in new solar permits this year. Among these are changes to the net metering provision that allows solar customers to sell excess power back to San Diego Gas & Electric — new rules add fees for solar users, change the amount they're paid for electric generation based on the time of day, which according to Anderson "made the economics slightly less attractive for solar customers and the pitch more confusing."
Anderson says reduced spending on customer acquisition by national brands like Solar City (according to the report 80 percent of San Diego solar installations are done by locally-owned companies), heavy rains early in the year inhibiting construction, and the fact that as early adopters of the technology many homes that stand to benefit in solar are already blanketed in panels.
While the industry is expecting an uptick in business going forward, the biggest years of the California solar boom might already be in the past.
"Many industry analysts expect that the market will rebound in 2018, but it may not get back to 2016 levels," Anderson concludes.