Grab Your $6,000 Solar Rebate While You Still Can!

By Emily Steiver on January 2, 2012

Now is the time to get in line for a DC Solar Rebate – before the funding is gone!  Prices of solar panels are at an all-time low, making the decision to go solar a great long-term investment.  A recent comparison of solar costs in the District indicates that the return on investment from installing solar panels varies from 6-10%.  The existing 30% Federal tax credit, along with renewable energy credits that accrue with your solar project, make the economics of solar very favorable.

Strengthening the economic case for solar even more is the District government’s rebate program.  These DC rebates are designed to encourage renewable energy and foster a new homegrown industry (jobs in DC!!).  If you are able to get in on the DC solar rebate, your rate of return rises into the double digits, and your initial investment can be paid back in 6-7 years.  For many DC homeowners on the fence about going solar, the DC rebate is the incentive that motivates them to move forward.  Below, I examine your chances of getting a DC solar rebate – and it looks like time is running out!
As background, realize that the DC rebate program is a four-year program, which is now in its last year. DC is authorized to release $2 million dollars this year for rebates.  Rebates for a typically-sized system are about $6,000.  Rebates are issued on a first-come, first-served basis from a waiting list that you can join on the DDOE Website.
Last week, I asked the DC Department of the Environment for an update on their progress for releasing those funds now that we are one quarter of the way through the fiscal year.  It is important that these projects continue to be funded at a rapid pace, otherwise the program will expire before funding is released to those on the waiting list.  DDOE reports as follows:
  •  $25,000 has been paid out (5 requestors have received checks)
  • $598,000 are in the final approval stages (86 requestors will receive checks soon)
  • 383 additional projects are on the waiting list.
  • DDOE reports that usually about 40% of those that submit the initial application actually decide drop out of the process.
  • Assuming that 230 of the 383 people on the waiting list are funded at an average of $6,000, then the full $2 million will be expended and new entrants to the waiting list will not be funded.
  • If the average rebate award and/or the acceptance rates are higher, some at the bottom of the existing waiting list may not receive funding from the $2 million pot.
  • If the average rebate or acceptance rate is lower, new entrants to the waiting list may get funding (so act fast and get your name on the list). 
What If You Miss Out???
  • It is possible that the DC Sustainable Energy Utility (SEU) will add funding for additional solar rebates – they added a small amount last year.
  • Community activists with DC SUN are calling upon the DC Council, Mayor, Department of Environment, and the SEU to work together to renew the DC solar rebate program for another four years.
  • DC SUN’s proposal is discussed in this blog post.

To help demonstrate the effectiveness and interest in this program, DC SUN urges residents to put their names on the DC Renewable Energy Incentive Program Waiting List (Click Here for a step-by-step guide on how to reserve your place the list).  This will help in our effort to get this great job creating program back on track for those residents that were not able to participate in the first four years of the program.  Because the solar rebate program is funded by electricity surcharges that are NOT scheduled to go away, DC SUN thinks that the extension of the program is an important way to promote a sustainable future for DC — a future that involves renewable power coming from the people of the City.

Mike Barrette
Vice President – DC SUN