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TID solar incentive program updated

POSTED July 3, 2009 5:18 p.m.

The Turlock Irrigation District Board of Directors adopted a revised solar energy incentive policy on Tuesday, which makes the cash for kilowatts program a bit more difficult to qualify for while rewarding those whose systems produce more energy.


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.


All California utilities are required to offer a solar incentive program under statues adopted in 2006’s Senate Bill 1. Tuesday’s changes to the program were required by the California Energy Commission, which issued an updated set of guidelines for solar incentive programs in December 2008.


“A major change to the program is that the incentive structure changed to performance based,” said Michelle Reimers, TID’s public information division manager. “Another change is that customers have to consider or plan to implement energy efficiency measures before they can apply for a solar incentive.”


Under the new program, solar energy systems smaller than 30 kW qualify for 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. That amount is calculated using the EPBI calculator currently used for rebates in the California Solar Initiative program.


Once operational, systems 30 kW and larger qualify for the Performance Based Incentive. Rather than an lump sum, these more powerful 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 also hinges upon 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 far 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 that of 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.


For more information on the solar incentive program, visit the TID Web site at www.tid.org or call 883-8300.
To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail acantatore@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.

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