Solar rebates falling nationally

solar panelsNationally, rebates for solar residential systems are on their way down.

editor's blog logoThis isn’t really news to me — but the fact that the New York Times is now covering the drop on its green blogging pages is making me very anxious — especially since we’re still waiting to hear from Xcel Energy and whether or not they will approve our proposed 5.5 kW solar system with REC Solar for a rebate based on two brand new Econo-Heat, Envi heaters we just purchased on Saturday.

I estimate the heaters will boost our annual kWh consumption by about 2,200 kWh.

I know, it seems crazy that we have to add to our electric use to get the solar system we need to power a future EV, but that’s how it is.

It is worth pointing out that the two Econo-Heat heaters (which are very good products), will help us substantially reduce our natural gas consumption as we’ll essentially be able to turn off our furnace at night with an Envi heater in our bedroom and one in the kids’ bedroom. So, in a sense, we won’t really be using any more energy, just shifting the type of fuel used to generate it (yes, I know natural gas is cleaner than coal — but soon the heaters will be powered by solar).

In any case, if you add 2,200 kWh to the 5,136 annual kWh hours Xcel is using for its baseline on our system, it boosts our annual use to 7,336 kWh. That means that a 5.5 kW solar system — expected to produce 7,801 kWh annually on our roof — would generate 106 percent of our annual electric use. In other words, it means we would be well within Xcel’s 120-percent rule, which basically prevents consumers from putting up a solar system that produces more than 120-percent of their annual electric use.

As we wait, and wait, and wait, the clock is ticking down on the $3.50 per watt rebate that Xcel is now offering — they want to drop it to $3.00 once they’ve added 100 kW more in residential systems. 

I’m getting very anxious indeed. One-hundred kW isn’t much and a 50-cent per watt drop would cost us thousands of dollars, dollars that we simply do not have.

In sum, while it’s not the whole picture, if you’re thinking of purchasing a solar system, you might want to consider doing it sooner rather than later — if you live in an area serviced by a utility company offering rebates to customers. Because those rebates are dropping rapidly.

If you’re interested, here’s a link to the green blog story on the dropping utility rates.