March 23, 2010

News from DSIRE: week of March 22nd

It’s been a busy couple of weeks, with 16 updates–from California to South Carolina–to the DSIRE database.  Thanks to Rusty Haynes and the great team at DSIRE for these late breaking additions to the database. ARKANSAS – Renewable Technology Rebate Fund Program Opens As of March 22, 2010, a residential rebate program in Arkansas is…

It’s been a busy couple of weeks, with 16 updates–from California to South Carolina–to the DSIRE database.  Thanks to Rusty Haynes and the great team at DSIRE for these late breaking additions to the database.

ARKANSAS – Renewable Technology Rebate Fund Program Opens
As of March 22, 2010, a residential rebate program in Arkansas is open for small-scale solar PV, wind, and solar water heating systems.  The Arkansas Energy Office is administering the rebate program, with funding from The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).  The rebate for PV systems is $1.50/kWh for systems sized 25 kW or less and $0.75/kWh for systems over 25 kW — for the first year of production. The rebate for wind systems is $1.25/kWh for systems sized 20 kW or less and $0.625/kWh for systems over 20 kW — also for the first year of production. Rebates for solar water heating systems are based on collector area. Systems that are 320 square feet or less will receive $30/square foot; systems that are greater than 320 square feet will receive $15/square foot.  This rebate will also be offered to small commercial projects once a list of approved contractors has been developed.

The California Public Utilities Commission ruled on March 11, 2010, that utilities may now use unbundled renewable energy credits, also known as tradable RECs (TRECs), to comply with the state’s renewable portfolio standard.  The use of TRECs will be limited for the first two years to account for no more than 25% of a utility’s annual procurement requirements. The price of a TREC is also limited for the first two years, not to exceed $50 per megawatt-hour. These caps will be lifted December 31, 2011 (or earlier at the discretion of the CPUC).

ILLINOIS – Interconnection Rules for Large DG Adopted
Illinois has adopted a separate set of rules applicable to distributed generation facilities that are greater than 10 MW in capacity and are not covered under Illinois’ existing interconnection standards. These new rules provide a standard set of procedures, including standard agreements, covering the interconnection process.

MONTANA – Residential Alternative Energy Tax Credit Cap Raised
The Montana Department of Revenue has interpreted the statute authorizing the Residential Alternative Energy System Tax Credit in a manner to provide a tax credit up to $1,000 per household.  The statute states that up to $500 is available to individual taxpayers who invest in certain renewable energy systems. This cap applies to individual taxpayers, and the Department of Revenue has ruled that married taxpayers filing jointly may claim a tax credit up to $1,000 per household.

NEVADA – New PV Rebates Delayed
NV Energy, an investor-owned utility serving Nevada, was scheduled to begin accepting applications for the 2010 program year of its popular SolarRewards program on March 24. Citing a desire to give their customers more time to familiarize themselves with the new rules and regulations for this rebate program, NV Energy announced that it would delay the launch of the program until April 21.

NEW HAMPSHIRE – New EE, RE Loans Available
The New Hampshire Community Development Finance Authority, in partnership with the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund, now offers the Enterprise Energy Fund, a revolving loan program funded through New Hampshire’s State Energy Program allocation under the federal stimulus bill. Commercial businesses and non-profits are eligible to apply for funding for a wide range of energy-efficiency projects, including renewables. In certain circumstances, some grant money may be available to loan applicants as well. Rates range from 2.75% to 4% for businesses and 2% to 2.5% for non-profits. The deadline for initial inquiries is April 30, 2010.

NEW MEXICO – New Gross Receipts Tax Incentives Approved
New Mexico has enacted legislation (HB 261) creating a new exemption from the state’s gross receipts tax for solar-thermal-electric, PV, geothermal-electric and recycled energy systems 1 MW or larger. The same bill also modified an existing gross receipts tax exemption for wind-energy systems sold to governmental entities. Solar-thermal-electric and PV systems sold to governmental entities now also qualify for the exemption.

OREGON – FIT Rulemaking Delayed
Recently, questions have been raised about the ability of Oregon to set rates for the state’s Pilot Solar Feed-in Tariff. Due to the uncertainty of the state’s jurisdiction in setting rates, the Oregon Public Utilities Commission has pushed the deadline for establishing the feed-in tariff rates back to July 1, 2010. (The legislature also passed HB 3691, signed by the governor March 18, 2010, extending the deadline for setting the feed-in tariff rates to July 1, 2010. This bill also allows PV systems to qualify for the feed-in tariff without having to primarily meet a utility’s customer load service obligation.)

OREGON – BETC Rules Modified; Credit Reduced for Large Wind
On March 18, 2010, the governor signed HB 3680, significantly modifying Oregon’s generous Business Energy Tax Credit.  This legislation reduced the maximum cap on tax credits to wind projects over 10 megawatts, set a sunset date for the tax credits, capped the program budget, and allowed the Oregon Department of Energy more discretion in awarding tax credits. The cap for tax credits for large wind projects was reduced from $10 million to $3.5 million in 2010, $2.5 million in 2011, and $1.5 million in 2012.

OREGON – Separate Bills Alter RPS
Two bills amending Oregon’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) were signed by the governor on March 18, 2010. With the passage of HB 3649, limited amounts of non-utility-owned, pre-1995, low-impact hydro may be counted toward RPS compliance.  Up to 40 average megawatts of such hydropower may be credited each year.  HB 3691 also modified the RPS, including a provision to allow utilities to recover above-market costs associated with RPS compliance in rates.

PENNSYLVANIA – PA Sunshine Benchmarks Reached, Rebates Reduced
The Pennsylvania Sunshine solar rebate program operates on a declining block structure, where rebate levels are reduced when approved applications (in aggregate) exceed certain capacity benchmarks. In early March, the residential program reached the first benchmark, triggering a reduction of $0.50/W, from $2.25/W to $1.75/W. Around the same time, the small business program reached the third capacity benchmark, also triggering an incentive reduction of $0.50/W. Rebates for small business PV systems now range from $0.25/W -$0.75/W, depending on the size of the system.

PENNSYLVANIA – PPL Unveils Solar, Geothermal Rebates
PPL Electric Utilities now offers rebates to residential, non-profit and government customers for the installation of PV systems and geothermal heat pumps. The PV rebate is set at $2/W (up to $5,000 for residential systems and up to $500,000 for non-profit or government systems). Rebates may be applied for retroactively for systems installed on or after July 1, 2009. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has issued a policy statement clarifying that systems that receive a rebate from PPL are not eligible for the Pennsylvania Sunshine solar rebate program.

SOUTH CAROLINA – SHW Rebates Available Soon
Beginning March 31, 2010, South Carolina will offer a $400 rebate for solar water heating systems as part of South Carolina’s Residential Energy-Efficient Appliance Rebate Program.  The program, funded by the federal stimulus act, will also offer rebates to a variety of energy-efficient technologies.

VIRGINIA – Reservation Period for Rebates Open…Again
The Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy (DMME) has re-opened its rebate program for solar thermal heating, solar photovoltaic (PV) installations and small wind systems. The reservation period for the first round of funding closed only two weeks after it opened; it is expected that this round will come and go in a flash as well. Approximately $3.5 million is available during this second round of funding for residential and commercial rebates. The rebate program was made possible with money from the Virginia State Energy Program allocation from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

WISCONSIN – Municipal Utility Launches State’s First PACE Program
The River Falls Municipal Utilities (RFMU) Renewable Energy Finance Program is a direct result of Wisconsin’s 2009 authorization of local Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs. Loans ranging from $2,500 – $50,000 are available at 4% interest over terms from five to 20 years for PV, solar water heating, solar space heating, wind, and geothermal heating and cooling systems. (Projects may also incorporate energy efficiency measures into a renewable energy project, provided that the renewable energy portion comprises approximately 50% of the project cost.) Participants repay the loan through a special fee on their annual property tax bill.

WISCONSIN – We Energies Biogas Buy-Back Tariff Revised
We Energies, an investor-owned utility, began offering a special energy purchase rate for electricity produced by anaerobic digesters within its service territory in 2006. Originally scheduled to expire at the end of 2009, the program has been renewed through 2011, with certain revisions. Under the revised tariff, the maximum system size has increased from 1 MW to 2 MW, and the rate for off-peak purchases has increased from $0.04/kWh to $0.0614/ kWh. The on-peak rate remains unchanged at $0.155/kWh. Renewable energy credits associated with the electricity purchased under the tariff are transferred to the utility.