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>> For years, the quiet, winding streets of the Scripps Ranch neighborhood have been pure gold for solar companies, but no longer. I'm Nichola Groom in San Diego, zip code 92131, which has a higher percentage of homes with solar panels than any other zip code in California. The state accounts for half the nation's solar installations.
But throughout California, the growth of residential solar is slowing. Several factors are at play. For one, the market is tapped out. Many affluent homeowners in hot Southern California wanting air conditioning 24/7 are already equipped with solar panels. Now solar companies have to find new customers, but convincing residents with smaller electric bills to make the switch to solar is no easy sell.
One resident telling Reuters that his $220 a month electric bill did not justify the $22,000 investment to install the panels. Another challenge, shrinking government incentives. For a long time utilities, including the main utility here in San Diego, have offered generous incentives to households that adopted solar. Those incentives are required by California law as a means to encourage homeowners to go solar.
But those incentives are becoming less generous. The slowdown is hitting the biggest rooftop solar panel installers, SolarCity and Sunrun, prompting them to slash forecasts as their stocks are pummeled. SolarCity, for one, is looking for an out, and has agreed to be bought by Tesla. Billionaire Elon Musk is the largest shareholder in both companies.
A vote to merge the companies is slated for November 17th.