Dear Editor: Thanks for your enlightening editorial about the problems of feed-in tariffs for photovoltaic (PV) installations and the distortions they are causing in cost responsibilities among electric utility customers. (“Facing Facts,” Frontlines, June 2012). While these issues are an immediate and growing concern, an entirely different set of problems will emerge over the next decade as the share of renewables in total generation approaches the high levels being dictated by most regulatory authorities. These concerns will center on the risks of massive storm damage over large geographic areas to PV rooftop installations.
With the steady drift of the nation’s population towards the sunbelt, much of the renewables will logically be PV, encouraged by the high feed-in premiums highlighted in your article. Since the sunbelt is prone to major storms—including tornadoes and especially hurricanes along the Gulf Coast—restoration of service after widespread damage to a significant portion of the power supply will create a host of unique problems, to which little thought is being given. These include:
• Coordination of installation repairs;
• Responsibility for insuring roof top installations;
• Financing of restoration until insurance settlements are available; and