SMUD increases funds for popular solar program [Sacramento
New program is contractor-driven and utility provides incentives
Municipal Utility District (SMUD) solar rebates are so popular
with customers that
the utility added another $150,000 in rebates to meet the demand.
The program, PV Pioneer 2, provides
financial incentives for contractors to pass on to customers. SMUD
is also marketing the program and
provides customers a list of approved contractors to seek competitive
bids. Since January, SMUD has
referred more than 400 customers to contractors.
PV Pioneer 2 is one part of SMUDs long-term vision for solar
technology. The program kicked
off in January and by April the initial $350,000 of incentive money
was exhausted. SMUD approved an
additional $150,000 to keep the program going.
SMUD provides $3.00 per watt in rebate money, saving the customer
about $6,000 on the
installation of a typical 2-kilowatt system, which can sell for
about $16,000. The customer owns the
system and the power generated by it. SMUD credits the owner for
any excess power the customer does
not use and feeds back to the grid.
SMUD has been a utility leader in the development and implementation
of solar technology for
more than 20 years and has approximately 10 megawatts of PV installed
across a territory of about
540,000 customers. That history includes incubating and fostering
a local solar contractor base that has
now taken over the marketing, sales, and installations of PV systems.
A previous version of PV Pioneer 2
saw SMUD doing all the sales and installations.
SMUDs first customer solar program, PV Pioneer 1, which began
in 1993, had 500 customers
volunteer to have SMUD purchase, install, and maintain PV systems
on their roofs. The customers paid a
monthly fee to help pay administrative costs. As a result of the
program, the industry learned more about
the technology, the costs dropped, and a local service market was
developed. Now there are local
businesses qualified to sell, install, and maintain solar power
SMUD is developing another solar frontier: working with builders
to integrate solar panels into
the building design of new homes further reducing costs of materials
and labor and ultimately customers
Solar power helps reduce the amount of electricity SMUD has to purchase,
saving all customers
money. As a renewable energy source, solar power helps offset emissions
from power plants that
generate electric power using fossil fuels. For more information
about any of SMUDs renewable energy
programs, visit www.smud.org, or call 1-888-742-SMUD (7683).
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