Rebates for residential solar installations in Washington DC have spurred job creation and have literally energized almost 1,000 homeowners across the City. The highly successful four-year rebate program
will end in 2012 – casting uncertainty over the prospects for solar energy in the District. DC Solar United Neighborhoods (DC SUN – www.dcsun.org
), a grassroots coalition of residents that promote solar energy in the District, are urging the City Council and Mayor to extend this effective program for four more years – allowing 4,000 new projects to be completed. DC SUN believes that in four years, falling prices for solar panels will make the economics of solar so good, that rebates can be completely phased out.
To reach specific goals in four years, DC SUN is proposing rebate reductions, which will essentially double the number of installations supported each year until the program is phased out. In addition, DC SUN proposes that half of the solar rebates be dedicated specifically to go to low income homes. DC SUN proposes that DC offer fixed rebates of – $4,000 per project in 2013, $3,000 in 2014, $2,000 in 2015, and $1,000 in 2016. These rebates, in conjunction with available Federal tax credits and solar Renewable Energy Credits, will make solar an unbeatable investment that allows the City to shift to renewable, locally-produced energy. The rebate program has created jobs in DC, and will create more jobs if renewed. Atta Kiarash, Vice President of DC-based installer Solar Solution LLC, remarked that the rebate program has been essential to creating demand for solar projects — indicating that it would be foolish for DC to discontinue a program with such broad support and a record of success. He stated, “taking away this grant not only hurts DC homeowners, but also local businesses that provide services to residents.”
While solar is still a good investment without DC rebates, our analysis shows that DC residents that are considering solar are looking for a 6-year payback period. Current solar prices offer about a 10-year payback period – and DC rebate program will tip the scales for many consumers (seewww.dcsun.org “One Roof” solar price evaluation). This investment will not require the City to raise new funding because the energy surcharge that exists on your bill is already being used to fund solar rebates. Under DC SUN’s proposal, this existing funding stream would continue to be used to fund solar rebates.
The existing program has created jobs in DC! Atta Kiarash of DC-based installer Solar Solution, LLC has directly attributed the rebate program to job growth for his business, indicating that failure to renew the rebate program with such strong support base . Atta Kiarash, Vice President of Solar Solution, LLC
DC SUN is urging the Mayor, Department of the Environment, and the Sustainable Energy Utility to implement this proposal plan as part of the Sustainable DC initiative. DC SUN thinks the plan can be announced and implemented quickly with funding that is already coming into the City. You can register your support for solar rebates as part of the Sustainable DC voting process
. As November 22nd, the continuation of solar rebates has received the second highest number of votes of all submitted ideas.