Solar Power System Incentives Update – June & July 2015

Solar Incentics SavingsLocal solar and renewable energy incentives offered by states, municipalities, and electric companies are continuously changing. They can be rather difficult to understand, so we’re going to update you on a few programs we’ve heard about recently.

Georgia’s Solar Power Free-Market Financing Act of 2015

Georgia now permits solar leasing and PPAs

In a perfect example of the expression “politics makes strange bedfellows,” Georgia’s state Tea Party and the Sierra Club teamed up to get a new bill enacted that allows for 3rd party owned solar systems. The “Green Tea Coalition” got the “Solar Power Free-Market Financing Act of 2015” signed into law. The new law went into effect July 1, 2015, so expect to see a lot of new solar leasing companies setting up in Georgia. As we’ve mentioned in previous blogs, buying a solar system outright is still a much better deal than leasing, but if you don’t have the money upfront and can’t get a loan, leasing can still save you money while you use less dirty power from coal plants.

California Solar Initiative (CSI)

California has seen tremendous success with their California Solar Initiative. As a result, rebates for existing homes with PG&E and for Southern California Edison (SCE) customers have been exhausted and the program is closed. San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) has also closed out the existing home residential rebates, and is no longer accepting applications for their non-residential systems. However, there are active incentive programs still available for new homes, as well as for qualifying, existing, low income, multi and single family homes. Many municipal utilities still have active rebates as well.

The Federal 30% ITC tax credit is still available for all residents.

Rhode Island Renewable Energy (RE) Growth Program

National Grid ( Narragansett Electric Company)

The Rhode Island Renewable Energy (RE) Growth Program was formed as a result of the recently enacted Clean Energy Jobs Program Act of 2014. Its intention is to facilitate and promote installation of renewable distributed generation (DG), reduce environmental impacts from electricity, stimulate economic development, and quadruple the capacity available to 160 MW over five years.

This program also has greater than 25kW system incentives, but we will just be covering the details for the small scale incentives program in this blog.

Small-scale Solar – Up to and including 25kW

The solar system must be sized to generate no greater than the customer’s 3-year average annual usage. Monthly generation and usage may not necessarily match, but the annual average should.

Homeowner or Installer can submit an Interconnection application to apply. Applications were being accepted starting June 15, 2015. Applications MUST be submitted and approved before the installation can begin. National Grid selects projects and awards Certificates of Eligibility on a “first come, first served basis” until the annual MW target is met. The Certificate of Eligibility is voided if the project does not complete construction and becomes operational per the tariff requirements within 24 months. For details of the application process, go to National Grid’s website.

The New England Power Pool Generation Information System (NEPOOL GIS) issues and tracks certificates for all MWh of generation and loads produced in the ISO New England control area, as well as imported MWh from adjacent control areas.

Small Residential and Small C&I (Most Small Scale Solar and those on Residential Tariff)

  • Under 10 kW (single phase) or under 25 kW (three-phase inverter-based PV)

  • Note that the table shows the ceiling price, which is the maximum price they will pay. The price will vary based on quantity of systems installed, not to exceed the ceiling. Generally the payments will be lower than the ceiling, but they are unable to predict what it will be at this point.

  • The homeowner of a 1-10kW system can choose between 15 or 20 years for payments. As you can see it pays a higher amount per kWh for the shorter length of time.
  • Since PBIs and bill credits may be considered taxable income, National Grid will require W-9s from all participants and issue 1099s to non-exempt recipients of payments.

Renewable Energy Class

Annual Enrollment Target

Ceiling Price/Standard PBI

($/kWh)

Home Owned (1-10kW DC)

15 Year Tariff

3MW

$0.4135

Home Owned (1-10kW DC)

20 year Tariff

$0.3775

3rd Party Owned (Lease or PPA) (1-10kW DC)

20 year Tariff

$0.3295

11-25kW DC

20 year Tariff

$0.2980

A second meter will be installed at the house to measure power generated from the solar system.

Measuring solar power generated using a 2nd meter

A Performance Based Incentive (PBI) will be paid through a combination of bill credit on customer’s electric service account and cash payment to each designated recipient.

  • Customer’s monthly bill will reflect:

    • Billing of on-site use at applicable retail delivery service and commodity charges

    • Bill credit based upon the lesser of the customer’s on-site use or the resource generation

    • Calculation of cash payment to recipient which will be the full PBI payment less the bill credit

Example of Residential Bill for 700kWh used and 1,000kWh generated by solar.

As the price for a Performance Based Incentive listed in the above table is the most they will pay (in this example it is $0.37 per kWh), the actual rate will be given as part of the Certificate of Eligibility, so you will know the correct amount before you buy your solar system.

Electric Service Bill

Delivery Service

Customer Charge

-$5.00 (not included in bill credit)

Delivery Service Charge

$0.07131 x 700kWh

-$49.92

Supply Service (National Grid)

Energy Charges

$0.8359 x 700kWh

-$58.51

Total Electrical Service Charge

-$113.43

Performance Based Incentive (PBI) Payment

PBI Payment

$0.37 x 1,000kWh

$370.00

Bill Credit (Delivery Charge + Energy Charge)

-$108.43

Homeowner Cash Payment from program

$261.57

Payment Due to National Grid (Customer Charge)

-$5.00

Total to homeowner

$256.57

Well now! Receiving $256.57 for the month instead of paying $113 is pretty fabulous in my book!

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Amy Beaudet

Solar Queen at altE
Amy Beaudet has been in the solar industry at the altE Store since 2007. She’s been a sales rep, an instructor, and an all around solar evangelist, sharing her passion for solar around the world. When not at work, she’s either sailing or skiing, depending on the season, but odds are good she’s still talking about solar on the boat or on the slopes.

About Author

Amy Beaudet
Amy Beaudet has been in the solar industry at the altE Store since 2007. She’s been a sales rep, an instructor, and an all around solar evangelist, sharing her passion for solar around the world. When not at work, she’s either sailing or skiing, depending on the season, but odds are good she’s still talking about solar on the boat or on the slopes.