News from DSIRE: week of April 5, 2010

CALIFORNIA – Carrots Dangled for Renewables Manufacturing
In an effort to expand the state’s manufacturing base, California has enacted new legislation that provides a sales tax exemption for renewable energy manufacturing equipment. Manufacturers will need to apply to the California Alternative Energy and Advanced Transportation Financing Authority, which will review the applications according to criteria provided in the legislation, and award exemptions to projects deemed to be in the interest of the state. When the total value of exemptions awarded reaches $100 million annually, the CAEATFA must provide a 20-day notice to the legislature prior to approving additional projects.

COLORADO – RPS Super-Sized
New legislation enacted in Colorado increased and revised the state’s renewable energy requirements for investor-owned utilities. Xcel Energy and Black Hills Energy, formerly required to use 20% renewable energy by 2020, now must use renewable energy to account for 30% of their electricity sales by 2020.  The legislation also changed the state’s existing 0.8% solar carve-out to a 3% distributed generation carve-out, half of which must come from “retail distributed generation” serving on-site load.

IDAHO – State Rebates for Solar Water Heating Launched
On March 25, 2010, Idaho began offering a $150 rebate for solar water heating systems as part of the state’s Residential Energy-Efficient Appliance Rebate Program, which is funded by the federal stimulus bill. The program will offer rebates to a variety of energy-efficiency technologies; program funding is not exclusively available for solar water heating.

INDIANA – Utility Offers Cash for Electricity from Distributed Renewables
The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission has approved Indianapolis Power & Light’s Rate REP (Renewable Energy Production), a performance-based incentive that took effect March 30, 2010.  Eligible technologies include solar facilities greater than 20 kW, and wind and biomass facilities 50 kW or greater. The rates that the utility — an investor-owned utility — will pay for electricity from eligible facilities vary by technology and system size.

INDIANA – Renewables Property Tax Exemption Expanded
Indiana’s property tax exemption for renewables, established in 1975, has been updated and clarified. While still not applicable to PV property, the amendment clarifies that solar pool heating and solar thermal applications used for industrial pre-heating are eligible for the exemption.

MARYLAND – Grants for Mid-Size Solar Get Makeover
Maryland’s Mid-Size Solar Grant Program opened in November 2009, employing a tiered incentive structure that offered an up-front incentive ranging $150/kW – $500/kW for PV systems 20 – 100 kW in capacity. The incentive calculation resulted in a maximum incentive of $25,000. The incentive calculation has recently been revised to provide a flat incentive of $500/kW, with a maximum of $50,000 per system. (Solar hot water rebates offered under the same program remain unchanged at 15% of the installed cost, up to $25,000.)

MASSACHUSETTS – Rebates, Rebates Everywhere
The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center has announced that second rounds of funding for both the Solar Stimulus Rebate and the Commonwealth Solar II Rebate programs will be available (tentatively) April 9, 2010. Applicants are advised to review program guidelines carefully, as some program provisions have been modified. Together, these programs will provide $5 million in rebates.

MINNESOTA – Commercial PV Rebates Resurrected
Rebates for PV systems are once again available to Minnesota small businesses with 20 or fewer full-time equivalent employees. For qualifying small businesses, rebates range from $1.50/W – $2.00/W, depending on the application date, the date the rebate is claimed, and installer qualifications. Systems are only eligible to receive rebates for the first 10 kW of capacity, although larger systems are eligible to participate in the program. The residential portion of Minnesota’s 2010 PV rebate program opened in February.

MINNESOTA – Residential Solar Air Heating Rebates Unveiled
Minnesota residents living in one- to three-family dwellings are now eligible for rebates for solar space heating. Rebates are set at $25 per square foot of net aperture of the collectors, up to the lesser of 25% of system costs, or $2,000 for single family dwelling and $4,000 for multifamily dwellings. Dwellings must be properly air-sealed in order to participate.  The Minnesota Office of Energy Security, which administers the program, recommends that all dwellings undergo a comprehensive energy audit.

NEW MEXICO – Residential Solar Equipment Exempt from Property Tax
New Mexico enacted legislation in March stipulating that solar energy equipment installed on a home adds no value to the house for the purpose of assessing property taxes. This exemption applies to PV, solar water heating and solar space-heating systems.

NEW MEXICO – Large Renewables Kiss Gross Receipts Tax Goodbye
Effective July 1, 2010, costs associated with the sale and installation of geothermal thermal electric, PV, solar thermal-electric, and recycled energy systems 1 MW or larger will be exempt from New Mexico’s gross receipts tax. The maximum exemption per project is $60 million.

NEW YORK – Net Metering Enhanced for Non-Residential Solar, Wind
In 2008, New York enacted legislation expanding net metering to non-residential solar and wind energy systems of up to 2 MW in capacity. However, the law also limited the size of individual systems to the on-site peak load from the previous twelve months. That language has been removed by fresh legislation, allowing non-residential electric customers to net-meter solar and wind-energy systems large enough to offset all of their on-site electricity consumption. The new law also clarified several provisions of an existing law relating to interconnection costs, cost responsibility and limitations for different types of systems.

UTAH – Three Additional Technologies Eligible for Renewables Goal
Three bills signed into law in Utah in late March have made a troika of additional technologies eligible to meet the state’s renewables portfolio goal. HB 192 added methane gas from abandoned coal mines and methane gas from a coal degassing operation associated with a state-approved mine permit; HB 228 added municipal solid waste; and SB 104 added compressed air energy storage technologies (provided that the electricity used to compress air was produced using renewables, or if an equivalent number of RECs is purchased.

WASHINGTON – Legislation Modifies Community Solar Provision in State Production Incentive
New legislation (SB 6658) signed into law in late March has modified the community solar provisions in Washington’s Renewable Energy Production Incentive. SB 6170, enacted in May 2009, made community solar projects eligible for this production incentive. The new law limits community solar projects to a capacity of 75 kilowatts or smaller. Additionally, members of cooperatives or limited liability companies are now eligible to receive the incentive.


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