California grabbed the solar spotlight this week by passing two big solar bills. One beefed up a still-feeble feed-in tariff, while the other required utilities to pay residents with solar installations for any excess generation. In addition to these two moves, the Governator vetoed a bill that would have penalized utilities like Sempra Energy
Germany's politicos sent out some mixed messages this week on the future of the country's world-leading solar subsidy program. The federal election at the end of September ushered in a center-right government coalition, generating concern that the new government will sharply scale back Germany's feed-in tariff, which currently requires power companies to pay as much as 43 euro cents ($0.64) per kilowatt-hour for solar electricity. Early in the week, an unnamed coalition source told Reuters that any cut would be modest, perhaps around half of the 30% figure that has been bandied about.
However, Bloomberg brought us a very different report later in the week, with a spokeswoman for the pro-business Free Democrats saying that lawmakers had agreed to "quite an enormous" cut. As of today, that cut is still under wraps, but if it's in excess of 20%, that would be quite a blow to the German market, which has been the world's biggest in recent years.
This affects not only domestic firms like Q-Cells and SolarWorld, but firms like First Solar
Perhaps this will all prove to be much ado about nothing, and Germany will get the 15% cut that has already been signaled. A steeper cut should cause solar investors to sweat, however.
There were a few more notable news items for the week. Siemens
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