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AMP’s (solar) performance plan

Submitted by on 1, November 17, 2009 – 5:45 amNo Comment

The Public Utilities Board okayed changes Monday night that would shift its solar rebate program to a multi-year, performance-based program, putting it in line with other municipal utilities in the Bay Area and sparking the construction of more solar projects around town.

The board voted unanimously to change the two-year-old program from its current configuration, which rewards those who build solar projects for the capacity they create with an up-front payment, to a new one focused on actual power output with payments spread out over several years.

The rates and other considerations, like the total dollar amount a single project can receive and the number of years payments would be made, are to be determined in January.

The new rules – which went into effect immediately – would apply to commercial projects that produce 50 kilowatts of power or more. Home-based projects typically produce about three kilowatts of power, according to a staff report.

Under the current rules – which offer $2.60 per watt of capacity – the owner of a 50-kilowatt commercial system would get a $130,000 rebate. The utility has budgeted $420,000 a year in payments for its solar rebate program through 2017. The money comes from a $0.000101 per kilowatt hour charge on customers’ bills.

Utilities in Palo Alto and Santa Clara offer output-based incentive programs for owners of solar systems that are 100 kilowatts and larger.

More information is to be available on AMP’s website.

Separately, AMP General Manager Girish Balachandran said he’s exploring the possibility of working with Alameda County to create a regional loan program for homeowners and businesses who are interested in building solar arrays.

The utility had looked into putting together its own loan program but opted to hold off, citing loan and administrative costs. Balachandran said the regional program, which could be formed with the aid of federal stimulus money, is in its beginning stages. He said at least one Alameda County city would have to agree to participate by early January if the program is to move forward.

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