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TID changes requirements for solar power incentives

POSTED December 15, 2009 11:51 p.m.
With only 88 residential units and nine non-residential units participating in the Turlock Irrigation District’s Solar Incentive Program, the TID Board of Directors approved some changes to the program at Tuesday’s meeting.
The changes include clarifications of the program, along with now allowing governmental agencies to receive some of the benefits of the federal incentives by installing solar panels without being the owners of the system.
Prior to the changes, governmental agencies were required to own their own solar panel systems in order to receive federal incentives.
TID’s Solar Incentive Program was prompted by the state requirement of all California utilities to offer a solar incentive program under statues adopted in 2006’s Senate Bill 1.
The program is expected to support the growth and sustainability of the solar industry in California, while creating 22.5 megawatts of new grid-interconnected solar photovoltaic generation capacity within the TID service area. By offering solar incentive payments, TID can also count the green energy toward a state-mandated requirement to source 33 percent of its electricity from renewable resources by 2020.
The Solar Incentive Program gives TID customers who have energy systems smaller than 30 kW the Expected Performance Based Incentive. The EPBI pays an upfront dollar amount as soon as the system is installed and operational based on estimated system performance.
Once operational, systems 30 kW and larger qualify for the Performance Based Incentive. Rather than a lump sum, these systems qualify for a monthly payment based on both a dollar per kilowatt-hour incentive rate and the actual amount of electricity produced monthly over the course of five years.
Incentive payments of any sort are only available to TID customers who install and own alternating current solar photovoltaic systems that generate 1 kV or more. Power purchase agreements and leased systems are not eligible for an incentive.
Eligibility for the program depends on the energy efficiency of the building where the solar panels will be installed. New buildings will be held to the highest standards, requiring energy efficiency levels that exceed the requirements of the current Building Energy Efficiency Standards, Title 24, Part 6 regulations.
Existing residential buildings require an energy audit, which can be conducted on-line, by TID, or through a certified Home Energy Rating Summary rater.  Proof of Title 24 energy efficiency compliance within past three years must also be submitted to TID.
Non-residential retrofit buildings require an additional Energy Use Intensity Benchmark Report, which compares the energy use of a building to similar structures. Buildings that met Title 24 requirements within the last 12 months are exempt from benchmarking, as are agricultural and industrial facilities that are not included with the Energy Star Portfolio Manager program.
So far, the total of 88 residential units have generated a $1.9 million rebate with the nine non-residential units generating a $2.46 million rebate, said Nancy Folly, TID consumer programs division manager.

TID to offer spillage workshop
Also at Tuesday’s board meeting, TID directors discussed putting a more concentrated focus on the irrigation spill efficiency to help out local farmers.
Director Joe Alamo suggested putting together a two-person committee to further look into the irrigation spillage issue to report back to the rest of the board of directors.
However, Director Michael Frantz suggested putting together a workshop that will include customers, farmers, all the board members, and other professionals who know about the irrigation spillage.
The board went with the workshop idea and scheduled it for the next board of directors meeting at 1 p.m. on Jan. 5, 2010. The workshop is open to the public and will be held in the Board Room located at 333 E. Canal Dr.
To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail mmartens@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2015

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