Thursday, March 16, 2006

Update: Solar rebate funds for smaller PV in California

(Picture courtesy of Sara lee)

Hello solarDwellers:

The other day I gave an update(here) about refunds available for LARGE solar projects (>30kW) in San Diego, which basically said all of the available funds are already spoken for this year(2006). People are obviously taking advantage of solar in California. The same is true for large-system rebate money in Northern California served by PG&E.

How much funding is still available for "smaller" systems <30kW?

Tip: Before I answer the funding question for 2006, for ANYONE having solar installed in CA, you'll be remiss if you don't take a look at the Energy Commission's "Emerging Renewable Handbook" Take a look at Appendix 2(p.62)"Consumer tips" about how much AC electricity a PV system will realistically produce and how to choose a contractor.
So, rebate funding for 2006 . . .Well, it looks like $40 million in rebate money is still available as of March 14, 2006. You can find this information by going to the California Energy Commission's renewable energy program link. They don't make this page too easy to find: first you go to their main page, then go to "new info", and then below a table listing dollar amounts of rebates, you'll see the small link to "accounts status page" which I linked to originally above!

So, how much solar PV can be installed with that $40 million of rebate money in California in 2006?
Well, at the rebate of $2.80/watt, it comes to about 16.5 megawatts of panels at Standard Test Condition(STC)or "ideal" rating, 14 megawatts of which would be eligible for PTC("realistic rating") rebate.

Calculation for the curious: [( 16.5 MW STC rating x .89 to get PTC watts) x (.94 inverter efficiency)= 14 MW watts eligible for rebate] or 14 MW x $2.80/watt rebate= $40 million in rebates.

How many PV system installations can you do with 16MW of panels?

Since the rebates in this program are for systems from 1 watt all the way up to 30kW, if the average size system installed is 10 kW, we're talking about funding available for 1,600 more installations in California for 2006. Or, if the "average" system size is 5kW, that's enough rebate money for 3,200 more installations this year. Note to self: research average system size in California's emerging renewables program. (Remember, the average household has a 2.5kW or 3kW system, but businesses can install under this program too, as long as the system is under 30kW, and this pushes the "average system size" higher than a household 3kW system).

So, good news! There's still time for you to put up residential or small business solar and get that rebate money in 2006! And don't forget, you also get another $2,000 back from the Federal Tax Credit!

--the solarDweller

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