The construction industry is constantly seeking new technologies and processes to increase sustainability before, during, and after construction. Embracing renewable energy is one of the most important aspects of increased sustainability in the industry, but that doesn’t mean the road to green construction will be simple for contractors.
One recent challenge that is hindering the growth of renewable energy in the United States involves “net metering.” In this article, a Hillsborough County construction lawyer from Cotney Construction Law will discuss net metering and the future of renewable energy in the construction industry. For all of your construction-related legal needs, including maintaining compliance with the Clean Air Act (CAA), Clean Water Act (CWA), Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), and other legislation governing sustainability, consult a Hillsborough County construction lawyer from Cotney Construction Law.
What Is Net Metering?
Net metering refers to the excess power produced from a renewable source. For example, if a building outfitted with solar panels can generate enough energy to power itself without exhausting its entire supply of power, the residual power can be sold back into the public grid and credited to the owner of the structure. It’s a potentially lucrative opportunity for companies investing in sustainability, but lobbyists are fighting back against net metering because they view it as a threat to profits being generated by non-renewable resources.
Is Our Government Sending Mixed Messages?
The issue facing contractors is largely out of their hands. The government offers a federal solar tax credit, or investment tax credit (ITC), which deducts 30 percent of the total cost of a solar energy system installation from taxes. This credit can benefit residential and commercial systems, and with no cap, the average shopper saves an average of $5,000. For commercial owners, this figure can increase significantly. The Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency features a vast list of programs that can be taken advantage of to reduce taxes, save money, and more. Many of these programs can help inform the next wave of major construction projects, but if the opposition to net metering successfully lobbies against the ability to sell excess energy, many owners may not see the purpose in spending extra money upfront for sustainability. If sustainability becomes a financial liability, it will greatly reduce contractors’ chances of partaking in green building initiatives. It’s ultimately up to our government to strike a deal and determine the future of green building.
What Are the Challenges?
Net metering isn’t as simple as purchasing solar panels and cashing in. It requires infrastructure and regulation. Typically, the same company must own power lines and sell power for net metering to be successful. In other words, its potential for success is predicated on finding the right locations with the proper infrastructure. It’s much harder to sell excess energy with the wrong system in place. Furthermore, owners must be cognizant of the various renewable energy credits and rebates that they can acquire to help make these projects an affordable reality for contractors interested in lending a hand.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.