Sunday, January 22, 2012

With Incentives Cut, is Going Solar in Arizona Still Worth it?
When it comes to sheer number of solar installations, Arizona comes in third among states, following California and New Jersey.

Until last December, Arizona’s incentive programs were among the best in the nation, with public utilities offering generous per-watt rebates in addition to a state rebate.
In December, however, the Arizona Corporation Commission, the state’s regulatory board, agreed to allow utilities to decrease rebate amounts.

Public utilities are mandated by law to invest in renewable energy, and since 2006, electric utilities in Arizona have been partially meeting that mandate by offering customers who install residential solar photovoltaic (PV) systems rebates, based on the system’s size.

Some rebate programs were as high at $3 per watt. Those rebates, when combined with the federal tax credit incentive program and the state’s $1,000 rebate program, made going solar in Arizona highly affordable.

Beginning in 2010, however, utilities began to pressure the Commission to approve reductions in rebates for residential and commercial installations. Utilities like the Tucson Electric Power Company, who recently received financing for the construction of a 6.1-megawatt solar energy plant, are seeking to meet renewable energy mandates through large-scale solar farms.

In December of 2011, the Commission responded by agreeing to allow utilities to decrease rebates and to continue to decrease them as more residential solar systems are installed....

Is Solar Still Worth it? Answer: Yes

... In sunny Arizona, an average size for a home solar system would be about 3 kilowatts and cost about $25,000, before rebates. The federal incentive program would cut up to 30 percent of that cost. The state rebate would shave off another $1,000, leaving a total of $16,500.

Most of the Arizona utilities are currently paying $.75 per-watt rebates, reducing the cost further to $14,250.

Residents could expect to recover the installation costs in around six to nine years through savings on their monthly energy bills. After that payback period, homeowners with home solar systems can enjoy years and years of free electricity, knowing that each kilowatt hour generated by their systems helps reduce the nation’s reliance on gas-emitting fossil fuel generation.

To take full advantage of the existing incentive programs, however, Arizona residents need to act soon. The new tiered system for the utility rebates allows the per-watt rebate to be reduced to $.10 per watt.

In addition, funds are limited for the current year, and it is likely that cuts will continue to the program next year....

Calfinder Nationwide Home Solar Power Contractors and Information
posted by Brittany
via/hat tip Cleantechies blog

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