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Flat Solar Rebates Stir Up Controversy

A new method to calculate solar rebates in San Antonio, Texas has stirred controversy between home installers and CPS Energy, the region’s energy supplier.

Until recently, CPS Energy has determined rebates according to a renewable system’s power-generating capacity. However all that has now changed as the energy company stated it will only be issuing rebates as a flat amount per renewable project, regardless of how much power that project produces.

The changes are part of San Antonio’s 2009 Save for Tomorrow Energy Plan (STEP), which aims to “aggressively” reduce customer electricity use by 2020 by providing renewable incentives to residential and commercial structures.  A new $15 million pool of funding added to the $849 million plan allowed CPS Energy to update its rebate structure.

Home solar advocates, such as executive director of the San Antonio Solar Alliance Ben Rodrigues, are concerned that the changes will slow residential adoption.

Going forward, the amended STEP will offer a flat $2,500 rebate to eligible projects until it has exhausted $9 million in funding, whereupon the rebate offer will drop to $1,500.

Rick Luna, the administrator in charge of CPS Energy’s rebate program pointed out that the gradual reduction in solar incentives is not out of the ordinary.

Rebates in San Antonio used to be priced at $3 per watt, but as the cost of materials decreased and more people have outfitted their homes with solar, the incentives have also declined. Before the new STEP was initiated, residents in San Antonio could get up to $0.60 per watt, making a 10 kilowatt system eligible for a $6,000 rebate.

Rick Luna, CPS Energy interim Director of Technology and Product Innovation, said the company’s new flat rebate structure allows it to stretch funding for more residents switching to solar

While the new rebate plan cuts the incentives by more than half, CPS Energy says it will allow them to offer financial support to an additional 6,200 projects.

While opponents of CPS might argue that the energy company acted unilaterally with San Antonio’s utility board and disagree with the latest STEP modifications, there’s little they can do. The flat rebate energy structure is already in effect and San Antonio’s City Council does not seem inclined to change it back, creating a time sensitive countdown for the $2,500 rebate to exist until it is reduced even further.

To lock in the latest solar rebates before they’re cut again, home solar and DIY solar installation companies such as GoGreen Solar, which specialize in securing the best rebates for a home solar installation systems, continue to provide a valuable resource for homeowners looking to get the most bang for their buck.

Author: Harold Tan

I believe clean, renewable energy is key to the evolution of society as a whole. Solar powers our planet, why not harness it to power humanity? Let's power our homes, our work, and our vehicles with solar energy. It begins with raising awareness and encouraging those around us to go green.

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