Senate Bill 252 is a real break-though for the solar industry and rural Colorado. For years, RECs have been reluctant to offer any solar incentives for their members, although they have been required by law to allow customers with small (<10 kw) renewable systems to connect to their electric grid and use net metering. With Senate Bill 252, rural electric cooperatives (RECs) and their suppliers will have to increase their renewable portfolio and offer customers some incentives to install solar.
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All Xcel rebates in the small category (<10 kW) are now production based incentives (PBI). Customer-owned systems can receive $.13 per kWh for 10 years. Although there are no upfront rebates available, the PBI is a significant incentive if you look at a 10 year timeline. In addition to saving about $.12 per kwh for your generated energy, Xcel sends you a check for the same generated energy at $.13 per kWh. A typical payback is 8 years.
Xcel attempted to stop the renewable energy rebate program (SolarRewards*) in March. PUC directed Xcel to continue the program with a new payout structure. Solar electric customers now receive a production based incentive (PBI) for ten years at 4 cents / kWh instead of the REC up-front payment of $.35 per watt. The rebate portion was also reduced to $1.50 per watt.
Now Xcel is adding another fee to our bills above the 2% RESA charge! The “fair share RESA” charge is based on PV Solar System Size. We will pay $1.03 for systems up to 5 kW, $2.05 for 5 to 10 kW systems.
What will Xcel try next to discourage renewable energy?
The REC portion of the renewable energy rebate is now at 55 cents per watt. That places the total rebate and REC for small PV systems at $2.55. With only 1 MW in this tier, it will fill quickly.
The Solar Program for Xcel is very particular with program applications. If your application or deposit forms have the slightest deviations from their format, they will reject your application and make you start the process over. Be sure to dot all i’s and cross your T’s. I have had a deposit returned because the Xcel logo did not appear on the deposit form, although all information was correct. This caused a two week delay in the application, which kicked my application into the next tier – losing a couple thousand dollars for my customers.
Please be diligent.. The Solar Program can be very frustrating.
The total rebate from Xcel Energy for small (<10kw) residential PV systems is $2.70 per watt. This includes the unchanged $2.00 standard rebate and the new $0.70 /watt renewable energy credit (REC). This change is effective beginning the first of 2010. This new pricing represents tier 4 of the Xcel rebate program.
I have to admit I was a skeptic when Conoco Phillips purchased the old Storage Tech campus and touted renewable energy research as a main component of business at the site. However, now they are using the economy as an excuse to scuttle those plans for renewables. I have to admit it was a good strategy. When people mentioned the Conoco Phillips move to Louisville, they always included the renewable energy boon to the area. It made the move a good sell. Big oil sometimes dredges up thoughts of neighborhood gas refineries similar to the Commerce City site. I hope that Conoco Phillips proves me wrong and gets back to the renewable energy plan.
County Issue 1A was adopted in Boulder County at the polls. This measure is a great opportunity for homeowners who would like to install renewable energy, but do not have the capital reserves. Homeowners will be able to obtain low interest, no-money-down financing for renewable energy, energy efficiency improvements, including solar photovoltaic systems.
The Boulder County Energy Options Local Improvement District (LID) will authorize Boulder County to increase debt by $40 million to be used for energy-efficiency projects. The loans will be repaid by the homeowner through a voluntary special assessment on the property. The plan allows for little up-front costs to the homeowner, and if the property is sold prior to the end of the 20-year repayment period, the new owner takes over repayment as part of the property tax bill.
Many details of the program must be ironed out, and other counties will be monitoring the program closely before adopting similar measures. Let’s hope Boulder County becomes the model to follow.
Sunnyside Solar is now in the BLOG world.
We will begin posting new developments in the solar electric industry and provide information about federal tax credits, utility rebate and renewable energy credits!
The latest development is the ITC – the federal investment tax credit for renewable energy additions and energy conservation upgrades. Beginning in 2009, home and small business owners may claim the credit on federal tax returns. The newly passed bill attached to the rescue bill allows for a 30 percent credit without the $2000 cap.
Utility rebates and RECs (renewable energy credits) are currently between $2.00 and $4.50 per watt. The word on the street is utilities may reduce these credits when the federal ITC takes effect.
Now is a great time to invest in renewables and energy saving improvements.