Looking into 2015

2015 is going to be an interesting year for solar in Washington State. Interesting in the “may you live in interesting times” kind of way.

The first half

Governor Inslee is asking for a new solar incentive program to spur solar adoption. You can criticize our current program as too generous. People are making a “profit” on tax dollars. At the same time, a single in-state manufacturer is enjoying the vast majority of solar sales.

I for one am looking forward a new program. I’d like to see the playing field leveled a little, and open up other market opportunities. But I am afraid of the political process. So right now, Dave from our crew and a bunch of our compatriots at Solar Installers of Washington are going through a stakeholder process.

They are sitting down at the table with utilities, government officials, and private parties to generate and review policy.

The new (draft) incentive structure leaves me with mixed emotions. It does level the playing field so prosumers have more product choice. It also reduces the return on investment in drastic way. My current feeling is that our marketplace is going regress several years. It’s kind of the exact opposite of Inslee’s hopes.

I don’t want to be so negative though. There is great structure in the drafts I’ve seen that strengthens the incentives. There would be more certainty for business and homeowners. There would be more opportunity for businesses to go solar. There would be mechanisms to reduce subsidies over time. There is a lot of great stuff coming out of the stakeholder’s process.

For that I’m grateful. I want to be in the business of solar; not politics. In the meantime we’re watching, waiting, and giving input when we can.

Regardless, it is going to be a busy spring. We are going to have a lot of customers that want to be a part of the current solar incentive program. It really is true that the time has never been better to install solar on your roof.

At a national level, utilities are fighting the adoption of net-metered solar. We’ve seen some of that fight here in Washington. Lucky for us the bouts with local utilities are mild compared to elsewhere.

We are expanding our operations into a satellite warehouse which will also be “interesting.” The logistics will be easy, but we just won’t see our crew around the office as much. That makes me sad because we have great people working in the field.

The second half

Well, the second half will likely be less interesting. We may or may not have the new incentive program. We’ll either be updating all our spreadsheets to model the new program, or we’ll be doing business as usual.

What is certain is that we are going to continue our efforts to be the best at what we do. This fall I have had the fun(?) of working on standardizing processes and better encoding our best practices.

In the middle of our busiest time of year, our crew is coming up with novel ways of working. Ways that make them better, faster, and safer. I love working with this team.

All year long

Some things never change in a growing business. Here at A&R we’ve done some incredible things. Andy and I started the company with $350 a piece, and have been able to grow it to a couple dozen people. A couple dozen dedicated to doing great work with great people.

It is no wonder I like coming in to work. We could have stopped growing a while ago and rested on our laurels. But we have a passion to be the best at what we do. You don’t get to be the best by not putting in consistent effort to improve yourself. Excellence takes hard work.