Hooray for the Garden State! We are happy to say that as of September 1st, New Jersey residential solar rebates are back. New Jersey is offering $0.75 per watt for systems as large as 7.5 kilowatts (kW). Systems larger than 10 kW are currently not eligible for rebates, and neither are commercial systems.
If there’s one thing that a first-time buyer of solar, a seasoned solar installer and we here at GetSolar.com all know about buying a solar system, it’s that solar incentives can be inordinately complicated and differentiated, with utility-, state- and sometimes even county-specific rebates and regulations unapologetically in place. Even the most experienced solar energy expert can’t be expected to remember all of those rules, deadlines and percentages; the lengthy lists and technical verbiage found in most of the available reading material can be a turn-off, and it’s not easy to tell which rebates have already gone obsolete.
At last, the moment we've all been waiting for! Pennsylvania has had its solar rebate program in the works for quite some time now, rumors and gossip circulating about when it would actually go active. And today it became official, as noted in a press release from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection:
Florida can put another notch in its "we're so trying to beat California at the solar incentive game" belt: the city of Gainesville has just approved a solar feed-in tariff of $0.32/kwh for solar electric systems installed after March 1, 2009. Not familiar with feed-in tariffs? Maybe that's because this is the first one in the nation. Europe's been rocking the feed-in tariff for some time; and in Germany, it also got its start at the local rather than federal level.
The feed-in tariff for solar is a huge incentive, especially for commercial consumers. Gainesville's tariff is set up to pay out over 20 years, a nice long time during which a company (or household) can safely predict that much larger a portion of its energy expenses. One of the biggest appeals of installing solar panels in your home or business is price security: you're reducing the amount of your electricity that can fluctuate with energy prices by replacing a portion of it with solar.
The feed-in tariff will replace Gainesville's current rebate program. One advantage of the tariff over a classic rebate is the higher return on investment for large solar installations, so the shift will hopefully attract millions of dollars in investment in solar in the city.
What could attract that level of investment, according to Don Davis, Gainesville president of Capital City Bank, is a 5 percent return on investment after taxes in a 20-year fixed contract. [Gainesville.com]
As with so much in solar these days, it seems like it will be good to get in on the ground floor of this new incentive structure, because in three years, the per-kilowatt-hour rate will drop (to accommodate an expected drop in the cost of technology, but considering how slowly the cost of solar has been declining thus far, it might be wise not to bank on that).
California and New York are the other two states whose solar associations have been pushing for a feed-in tariff incentive. Adam wrote a great post about New York's efforts a little while back. In fact, I'm going to quote Adam on why feed-in tariffs are such a sexy solar incentive:
...feed-in tariff prices are set by a government entity (not the market) and are considerably higher than the going rate for retail electricity. For example France, which recently expanded their existing feed-in tariff rates, offers up to €0.30 ($0.38) per kWh for residential systems and €0.55($0.70)/kWh for certain kinds of commercial systems. The going retail rate in France, by comparision, is about €0.14 ($0.18)/kWh.
The going rate for electricity in Florida varies depending on the utility, the type of consumer, and the rate schedule, but doesn't exceed $0.30/kwh for the most part, and that's way on the upper end (lowest end is around $0.18/kwh). So with a fixed rate for twenty years that exceeds the highest current retail price of electricity in the state, no wonder Gainesville's feed-in tariff promises to attract many more megawatts of solar capacity to the state.
Residents and businesses in Boulder, Colorado can now receive a cash rebate for installing a solar hot water (SHW) system after February 2, 2009. Matching a $40,000 grant from the Governor's Energy Office, Boulder County and the City of Boulder will provide up to $1,500 for large systems and $750 for small systems. The Center for Resource Conservation is helping administer the rebate program. As reported by the Daily Camera,
It's hard to know what to focus on when the last several days have seen so much hustle and bustle in the solar world. But the biggest news: New Jersey is accepting applications for solar rebates. Again. Why is this shocking? Well, you might remember how the CORE program sort of, er, ran out of money partway through last year's funding cycle. After this crisis, the state decided to implement a different incentive scheme: namely, SREC trading for both residential and commercial solar customers. If you entered into that scheme, you were not eligible for any cash rebate--it was SREC only.
At GetSolar, while each of our individual interests diverge, we share a common belief that solar energy makes sense. That is, we believe solar PV is a viable means of producing electricity for individual homeowners, as well as for companies and other collective interests. We believe that solar can be a good investment and can make sense even when most large-value projects are being put on hold.