There are several trends in the solar industry that are benefitting us locally, and driving our growth. We are currently installing over 60 KW per month, having installed 180 KW in Q4 of last year, and Q1 of 2016. That means in each quarter, we are installing as much solar as we did the first five years of business from 2003 through 2007.
We continue to see prices on pv modules slowly decrease, mostly as a result of global manufacturing capacity increases and efficiency gains. SunPower specifically has seen recent gains at its fourth “Fab” and is now approaching producing 1500 MW of pv per year.
So as a result of this increased manufacturing capacity, SunPower has been able to give us a fairly significant price cut recently, in addition to adding a 360 watt version of their standard residential pv module. We have been installing mostly 327’s for the last year, though now the 345’s are very close in price per watt and will make up the bulk of our designs for the remainder of the year. In cases where we want to make the most power possible, we will give our clients the option of the 360 watt product.
The increased installation rate here at Power Trip Energy also creates an interesting dynamic in terms of our pricing. With more and larger projects being installed each month, without our overhead significantly increasing, we can lower our installation charges on each job. So the lower equipment costs are actually resulting in lower labor charges as well.
The extension of the federal tax credit has removed a major deadline we were facing at the end of 2016 so we can intelligently plan for manageable growth this year. The waning state incentives should be considered, since we have about four more good summers to capitalize on those annual production payments from the state.
We don’t know how long these market conditions will persist, but we do know there has never been a better time to install a grid-tied pv system in Washington.