Wednesday, September 22, 2010

New Jersey Can't Seem to Give Solar Rebates Away

New Jersey is trying to give nearly $7 million to homeowners for solar rebates and finding significantly fewer takers than three months ago.

The Office of Clean Energy began accepting applications for rebates on September 1st for the third time this year, according to a quarterly distribution cycle. One week later, it has received 599 applications requesting $3.25 million in rebates, almost half of the money available, the Board of Public Utilities said yesterday.

The last time rebate money was distributed, May 3, more than 1,000 people claimed $6 million in residential and $1.5 million in non-residential one-time payments as soon as the Office of Clean Energy opened its doors, including some contractors who camped out the night before.

Solar installers are relying less on solar rebates since the state announced a phase-out of the rebate program this spring; after using money from the Clean Energy Fund for the general budget, and passing a new law promoting the use of solar renewable energy credits took effect.

Since then solar renewable energy credits have traded at over $650 in the spot market. A homeowner with a five kilowatt solar system can generate approximately six credits a year.

Also, solar installers are selling more systems to homeowners using power purchase agreements, where the the homeowner buys the power, not the equipment, from the installer. In these cases the solar installer is able to take advantage of federal incentives and solar renewable energy credits and doesn't need the upfront rebates.


1 comment:

howardlevy said...

I am not surprised by this dilemma. The Northeast is way behind the West Coast when it comes to environmental awareness. It's not surprising that in a state that hasn't encouraged environmental responsibility with its citizens, it can't get them to take a large action such as installing solar panels.

A better approach to conservation would be to offer incentives to builders to reduce the average home size (which has increased exponentially in the past few decades), to reign in the development of open spaces, and to tax gas guzzling cars.

Selling the benefits of solar panels is a difficult proposition. This article describes several approaches: