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Massachusetts’ newest solar incentive proposal offers better rates to those who act first
Oct06

Massachusetts’ newest solar incentive proposal offers better rates to those who act first

The future is looking a bit more bright for Massachusetts residents who want to switch to solar following Governor Charlie Baker’s proposal to incentivize an additional 1.6 GW of solar PV in the state. The Next Generation Solar Incentive Straw Proposal comes on the heels of the the state’s successful Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SREC -2) incentive program, which successfully increased solar deployment across the state and is set to expire at the end of 2016. As has been the trend with the newer incentive programs that are getting green-lighted all over America, the payback rate is less than the early days when solar installation wasn’t as prominent. Following suit with the trajectory of this trend, Massachusetts’s proposed incentive program rates are constructed to decline as more solar is generated. That means that people seeking the incentive earlier on will lock in more favorable rates than those latecomers to clean energy. Currently Massachusetts’s SREC-2’s program uses solar credits and a tariff program that fluctuates payback rates with the market and other factors. Under the newest proposal, incentives will have a single, fixed tariff rate for the life of the entire project and pay out over the course of 10-15 years.  This rate will factor in the state’s other incentive program of net-metering–giving a project a cap of a maxim payback rate it can apply for. The amount of the incentive is more generous for smaller projects such as home solar than larger, commercial ones. Contact GoGreenSolar.com or call (888) 338-0183 to learn how you can receive the state’s best incentive rates under the newest...

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California upholds rates and proves a shining beacon for home-solar benefits
Oct04

California upholds rates and proves a shining beacon for home-solar benefits

In a major win for residential solar in California this month, the state’s Public Utilities Commission rejected attempts by Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric and San Diego Gas & Electric to make rooftop solar more expensive. The 3 to 1 decision against the investor-owned utility companies brings to close a three year battle where these companies lobbied to significantly lower the net metering rates paid to solar residents. Currently the private utility companies have to compensate solar powered homeowners and businesses for the excess electricity they supply back to the grid. Like many private utility companiess rallying against net metering in America these days, they claimed the payout to people generating their own solar power would increase the rates they charged non-solar residents. In a scathing condemnation to the Palm Springs Desert Sun, the policy director for the California Solar energy Industries Association Brad Heavner, called the utility company’s case “not that strong” at all, claiming the vigor with which they attacked home solar was “almost harassment.” Part of the utility company’s appeal for commissioners to review the low rates for solar residents was the extension of a 30 percent tax credit issued by Congress earlier this year for solar installations past the end of 2016. Anti-solar advocates argued the tax credit makes rooftop solar cheaper than it otherwise would have been and that the utility companies should no longer need to provide such generous net-metering compensation. While the state’s commission currently ruled in favor of upholding the favorable net-metering rates, keeping the cost of installing home solar at a historic low, commissioners are set to review the policy again in...

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Future dim for home solar incentives in Maine
Sep19

Future dim for home solar incentives in Maine

Maine homeowners contemplating converting to solar just got more motivation to make the change sooner rather than later, following a new proposal, which hopes to phase out state funded solar incentives over the next decade.   The good news is that current solar homeowners and those who manage to make the switch and get grandfathered into their rates before the proposal is voted on, will retain their net metering benefits for the next 15 years.       The Main Public Utilities Commission (PUC) proposed the solar incentive change at a state commission hearing on Sept 13, claiming that since solar energy powers about 1 percent of the state’s usage it’s time to reconsider the decades old program   According to the Portland Press Herald the PUC’s plan is to cut compensation for homeowners that aren’t grandfathered into the old rates by 10 percent a year for a decade until homeowners will shoulder the costs of solar themselves, without any net metering or other state benefits.   Compared to an alternative plan sought by Maine’s Republican Governor LePage, the PUC’s timeline is viewed as much more lenient. Earlier this year, LePage’s office filed a recommendation to phase out benefits for solar homeowners over the next three years.   The PUC’s recent proposal comes as a starting point for reopening compensation discussions regarding Maine’s solar market. Later this year, new legislation is scheduled to be discussed regarding how new incentive models might help stimulate solar growth in the state, while also alleviating some the financial burden from its power company.   The recent discussions on solar incentives in Maine is indicative of the trends in the rest of the New England region. According to the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center at North Carolina State University, nearly two thirds of the states with net metering policies are reconsidering them, with seven looking to impose caps on net metering capacity....

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Arizona decides to keep net metering…for now
Sep02

Arizona decides to keep net metering…for now

Solar homeowners in Arizona breathed a collective sigh of relief this August as the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) voted to maintain full net-metering incentives and reject mandatory demand charges for solar customers.   The vote ruled against the state’s rural electric company UniSource Energy (UNSE), which sought the approval of legislators to increase the fees on approximately 100,000 solar customers by an additional $31 a month.     The ACC’s decision to hold off on rate increases aligns with an Administrative Law Judge’s recommendation to wait until an analysis of a docket entitled “Value of Solar” is completed, before making any decisions that would impact solar customers. The Value of Solar docket is scheduled to be concluded by October 2016, with a final decision on net metering for UNSE customers to be concluded by March 2017.   The outcome of the UNSE case is being closely monitored by solar proponents and detractors, as the rural utility company is one of five in Arizona that are looking to eliminate...

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Nevada legislator pulls plug on solar incentives
Aug18

Nevada legislator pulls plug on solar incentives

  The Nevada Supreme court dealt its state solar industry a blow Aug. 4 after denying a ballot measure to halt recent rate hikes for solar users. Previous to the court’s denial, the chances for the measure to pass had looked promising, with it gathering more than double the number of needed signatures to place a referendum on the November ballot. According to FoxNews, until this year net-metering subsidies for Nevada’s 17,000 homeowners using solar totalled an annual $16 million. A state commission subsequently decided that since the state was a approaching a cap on the number of net metering participants, it would allow the Nevada Power and Utilities Commission to enact new rates for rooftop solar customers. Last spring the state legislature voted accept the PUC rates and end subsidies, nearly tripling fixed monthly fees for solar customers from $12.75 to $38.51. “What started as a legislative policy to kickstart the industry, now 18 years later, it’s time for that industry to stand on its own two feet,” Fox News quoted Paul Thomsen, chairman of Nevada’s Public Utility Commission. If there is a silver lining, however, it’s that Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval has requested that next year’s bill “grandfather” existing customers back to their old rates. NV Energy took similar steps, pursuing an effort to do the same through the PUC. In other words, those Nevada citizens that seized the opportunity to convert their homes to solar before the subsidies were ended, will still get to enjoy the low, fixed energy rates promised to them by the state. As for the fate of the Nevada homeowners that weren’t quick enough to secure the grandfathered rates in time, advocates are looking to take a more long term approach to winning back subsidies by going through the state...

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Utah’s solar boom might be more than its rebate can handle
Aug11

Utah’s solar boom might be more than its rebate can handle

Utah’s lucrative incentives for its residents to go solar has ignited exponential industry growth in 2016, causing its state legislators to worry the rewards might be too good and call a preemptive end to applications for rebates when the clock strikes 2017. According to the Utah Daily Herald, the state, which now boasts approximately one solar panel for every three people, saw its solar capacity grow 14 fold from 2014-15, making it a national leader for renewable energy. “The growth curve is basically vertical right now,” the Governor’s Office of Energy Development Jeffery Barrett told the Tribune. Increasing fossil fuel energy rates in the past 5-10 years, coupled the decreasing cost of solar installation and state and federal rebates, has made it so that the per-kilowatt hour cost of solar is more than half as cheap. For homeowners in Utah, recognizing the financial benefits was a no-brainer. During 2016, approximately 7,700 residents have signed up for the Rocky Mountain Power’s net metering program. The number is more than double that of 2015, and there are still over 12,000 applications pending. The boom was clearly more than state legislators had bargained for, with some of worrying it could cost the government over $42 million. Others however, argue that the shift is a good thing and actually can save money in the long run. Ryan Evans, President of the Utah Solar Energy Association, pointed out that the incentive is more of an investment than a handout, as numbers show the state can quickly recover its $2000 incentive cost within the first year through new jobs, taxes, increased property and equipment sales. While legislators are yet to weigh in on a final decision to end the rebate program, one thing is sure–many Utahns are quick to make power while the sun is...

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