A bit ago, we reported that Salt River Project (SRP) — an Arizonautility — couldn’t keep up with demand for its solar rebate program, and therefore decided to suspend rebates until 2011. The abrupt suspension of solar rebates in other parts of the countryhas, not surprisingly, put many solar project plans on ice. Withoutknowing what size rebate will be available for future solarinstallations, system owners and solar installers alike aren’t able toaccurately estimate out-of-pocket solar costs.
To address this issue, SRP has recently announced an interim funding level to ensure that commercial and residential solar energy systems:
At this time, the number of applications received by SRPfor its EarthWise Residential Solar Electric Program has surpassed the4.5 megawatt (MW) cap that was established for all installations through April 30, 2011. As a result, SRP is temporarily suspending the $2.15per watt incentive level.
During the interim time period from now until May 1, 2011 when thenew budget and incentive levels will be announced, SRP has set asidefunding for 1 MW of residential solar electric installations at anincentive level of $1 per watt, up to 5 kilowatts. This will allow customers to move forward with a project should they decideto do so now, or they may wait until the next fiscal year when theincentive could be higher than $1 per watt. Progress towards the 1 MWgoal is reflected in the reservation status bar on the right of thepage.
What does this mean for you, the Arizona homeowner (and SRP customer) who is interested in installing solar panels? It means that there aretwo roads to go by:
(1) Proceed now with your solar home energy installation. Take the$1/watt rebate, which would, assuming you do a 5-kilowatt system (kW) or bigger, would total $5,000. Take the 30 percent federal tax credit andthe $1,000 Arizona state solar energy tax credit. Start saving on yourmonthly electric bill and rest easy that you’re taking advantage of what is still a perfectly decent solar rebate offer.
(2) Wait and see what 2011 brings. There’s a chance the newlyannounced rebate level will be above the $1.00/watt interim rate. Butaccording to SRP’s representatives, the solar rebate rate for 2011 willlikely not be the same when the PV incentive restarts May. It is highlyunlikely — we’d say impossible — that it will revert to the $2.15/wattrate that was in place earlier in 2010.
So that’s it. It bears noting that SRP’s solar hot water rebate isstill in effect. And, if you’re not an SRP customer, remember that APS,TEP and Arizona’s other main utilities offer solar energy rebateprograms of their own. The cooler winter months are a great time to do a solar installation — you can get the system in place so that when thescorching days of summer return, you’ll be well prepared to cut yourmonthly electric bills.
SRP says it will relay information about rebate rates on its website between March and April 2011, check-in with SRP and GetSolar, as wewill pass along information when it rolls in.About SRP EarthWise Solar Rebate program:
Since 2004, SRP’s EarthWise solar rebate program has been a continual success, having helped 163 commercial customers in SRP’s metropolitanPhoenix service area install solar photovoltaic (PV) and/or solar hotwater systems. Hundreds of residential customers have also benefitedfrom the program.
The most recent Arizona commercial solar installation aided byEarthWise was completed at the end of October, when IKEA in Tempe, AZ installed the largest commercial system in the SRP service area. The furniture company’s 75,000 square-foot system will produce aboutone million kilowatt-hours of solar energy each year — enough to powerabout 90 average American homes annually.
Prior to the program’s temporary suspension, SRP’s 2010 EartWiseprogram offered a rebate of $2.15/watt for residential PV systems andcommercial PVsystems of 30 kilowatts (kW) or smaller. Commercial systems between 30 kW and 300 kW were eligible for a production-based incentive of $0.147/kilowatt-hour (kWh) for 20 years or $0.188/kWh for 10 years.
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