We have just learned that Burbank Water and Power (BWP) - which had suspended its solar rebates back in April 2011 - is introducing what might be the most bizarre rebate procedure ever - a rebate lottery! Here is the text of the announcement in its entirety from the BWP website:
Direction for how the program will accept new applications effective July 1, 2012 will be provided by the Burbank City Council on June 26. Staff is proposing the following:
Additional details will be posted on this web site in early July 2012. If you have additional questions please contact the program manager at email@example.com
- Retain the current policy of dividing the remaining non-Performance Based Incentive (PBI) budget amount evenly between residential and small commercial solar installations. This is projected to provide approximately $60,000 in incentives for each customer category.
- Lottery applications would be accepted from July 1 through September 1, 2012.
- On September 4, 2012, BWP would use a lottery system to provide an order of rebate consideration for both residential and commercial (including Not-for-Profit organizations)solar applications. Priority will be given to business accounts that fall under a not-for-profit designation.
- Applicants will be notified in early September of their lottery number and application status. ”Winners” will be provided one month to meet all previously defined system application requirements through BWP’s online PowerClerk system, including, but not limited to, a signed contract, meter service confirmation, and City permit application approval.
- Rebates would open at Step 6: $1.28/watt for residential installations and $0.97/watt for commercial installations.
If this announcement is to be taken at face value, this means that they will be setting up a two-month lottery for the chance to be one of maybe 12 residential projects to get a rebate and only one fo 2-4 small commercial projects. Seriously? All this Sturm und Drang for a grand total of 16 rebates? With no way for a BWP customer to know in advance whether they will be one of the lucky “winners"?
We sent an email to the address above asking for some clarification, but as of this publication we have not received a reply. If you think this “lottery” is as silly as we do, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org - maybe they will be more willing to respond to you!
While we weren’t watching, the folks at Burbank Water & Power (BWP) pulled the plug on their solar rebate program, continuing the trend of on-again/off-again solar rebate programs at Southern California municipal utilities which has also included LADWP and Glendale Water & Power in the past year. Of the local munis, only Pasadena Water & Power has managed their program without interruption.
Here is the announcement from BWP’s website:
Due to the overwhelming success of the BWP Solar Support Rebate program and budgetary restrictions, effective April 21st 2011 the program has been suspended. Only those rebate applications in the on-line software PowerClerk with a status of “Confirmed Reservation” will be paid. These payments will be made when all remaining documentation is provided, but no sooner than July 1, 2011. All other solar rebate applications will be canceled and paperwork mailed back to the installer. Please check back to this web site in the spring of 2012 for a possible update. Solar Installers with customers that wish to proceed without a solar rebate should contact the program manager at email@example.com for details about the Solar Interconnection Agreement and other requirements.
Pardon us for a contrarian view, but when you have to suspend your program mid-year, it isn’t an “overwhelming success” — it is mismanaged.
Potential solar clients and solar companies alike need predictability - not programs that can simply disappear without prior notice.
Which brings us to another curious thing about this website announcement - it says that the effective date for the program suspension was April 21, 2011 but the earliest public disclosure that we can find about the change is this article in the local newspaper, the Burbank Leader, titled “Burbank Officials Suspend Solar Rebate Program,” dated August 30! Now it is true that we do not monitor the BWP website on a daily basis, but it stands to reason that if this suspension had been announced earlier, we would be able to find some notice of it online before August 30 - four months after the suspension date! (Interestingly, the last press release displayed on the BWP website is from April 22 but it says nothing about the suspension.)
If that timing is accurate, it means that solar companies could have been devoting time and resources in a tight economy to developing business in Burbank for a third of a year, only to have that expenditure rendered largely useless at the caprice of another muni utility that cannot manage its budget.
UPDATE - 2x - In advance of the meetings this week, LADWP has made available a number of materials so we are linking to them here.
For the Solar Incentive Program (SIP):
For the Feed-in Tariff (FIT):
Hope to see you there - if you have any comments about these, feel free to leave them below. You can also send comments to LADWP at LREP@ladwp.com.
UPDATE - Please note that LADWP has reconfigured their meeting to satisfy popular demand. Instead of one workshop on the 14th from 2-5, there will now be four, on Thursday and Friday mornings and afternoons. Here is the revised meeting schedule (along with the necessary links to RSVP):
We announced earlier that the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (LADWP) was holding a workshop to discuss the restart of its Solar Incentive Program (SIP) after a 90-day hiatus. We have now received some of the details of the program - along with a copy of their presentation - and want to share some information in advance of next week’s public hearing.
First, a reminder - the public hearing on the proposed revisions to the program will be held next Thursday, July 14 from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. at LADWP headquarters, 111 N. Hope St., Los Angeles in the A-Level Auditorium. Hope to see you there.
LADWP staff will make a presentation about two customer-related programs, the SIP and a new Feed-in-Tariff (FIT). The primary difference between the two programs is that the SIP is a net-metering program, meaning the customer who hosts the solar power system consumes the energy produced by the system and uses that to lower their LADWP bills. Under the proposed FIT program, LADWP purchases all of the output from the solar power system and pays the system owner a at a rate to be determined for that energy. (In other words - this is NOT a German-style FIT that would benefit residential customers.) The balance of this post will only address the SIP.
As we had noted previously, the LADWP SIP had been a victim of its own success - resulting in a lengthy application processing backlog, a corresponding inspection backlog and lengthy delays in paying rebates. Moreover, the program was over-subscribed with more applications coming in than there was money to support them. Accordingly, a 90-day moratorium was imposed while LADWP went back to the drawing board to revise the program.
It would appear that LADWP put that time to good use - reportedly reducing their application backlog from 800 to zero, authorizing the start-up of 2.2 MW of solar power systems and cutting over 150 rebate checks worth $10 million. More importantly for the program going forward, they devised changes to bring stability and predictability - or so they say - to the program for the next three years.
So what are the major changes proposed? Here are the highlights:
The LADWP presentation provided a series of charts (not tables) to depict rebate rates going forward. There are some omissions here that are important - the charts show rebates at different steps, but they do not say how many MW are in each step. For example, here is the residential rebate rate graph (click for full size):
Based on where the “Proposed Incentive Levels” plot begins, presumably we are starting at Step 5. What the chart doesn’t tell you is how many MWs of applications will LADWP accept before stepping down to the next incentive level. The lack of data points is also annoying - apparently we are starting at somewhere around $2.20 W. Nor is there anything said about how the system size will be calculated going forward - will LADWP adopt the CSI calculator that everyone else uses or will they continue to use their idiosyncratic - and error prone - system using PVWatts directly?
Here is the graph for commercial rebate rates (click for full size):
That graph seems to show that the rebate rate when the program resumes will be just under $2.00/Watt. But again, a question - is LADWP only using EPBB rebates, even for large commercial projects? Or did they simply omit the graph showing PBI rates?
Finally, here is the graph for Government/Non-Profit rebates (click for full size):
Our best guess is that the rebate rate here is roughly $2.75/Watt.
Obviously lots of questions remain - we will report back after the July 14th meeting and hopefully we will have some answers.
UPDATE - The GWP website is now displaying tables that layout the anticipated rebate rates for the next three years. These tables, contrary to what we were told by GWP - but consistent with what we reported regarding the ordinance passed by the Glendale City Council - indicates clearly that systems larger than 30 kW (nameplate) are eligible for rebates and those rebates will be paid as a PBI rebate - not an EPBB rebate.
SECOND UPDATE (7/9):
LADWP has announced that due to overwhelming interest, the single meeting scheduled for the 14th has been replaced with four meetings. Each meeting will be limited to the first 125 participants who RSVP (links below). Please note - if you registered previously YOU MUST REGISTER AGAIN!
Here is the updated schedule:
The remaining information below remains unchanged. We have signed up for the Thursday morning session - hope to see you there.
UPDATED Re: Parking (See below)
The Los Angeles Department of Water & Power - the nation’s largest municipal utility - has just announced that it will be conducting a workshop to discuss its revised solar rebate and feed-in tariff programs. This is the first public meeting since LADWP suspended its solar rebate program last April.
Here is the proposed agenda from the LADWP website:
1. Introductions and Overview of LADWP Local Solar Programs
2. Overview of Solar Incentive Program
3. Breakout sessions to discuss Solar Incentive Program changes
4. Summary of Solar Incentive Program breakouts
5. Overview of Local Renewable Energy Program
6. Breakout sessions to discuss Local Renewable Energy Program
7. Summary of Local Renewable Energy Program breakouts
The workshop will be held on Thursday, July 14, 2011, from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. at LADWP headquarters, 111 N. Hope Street, A-Level Auditorium, LA CA 90012. Parking is available free of charge in the Music Center’s underground structure. Attendees should enter on Grand Avenue, between Temple and First Streets,
look for the LADWP representative at the entrance and and present a printed copy of this invitation at the entrance. The LADWP representative will provide immediate validation and waive parking fees prior to entering the structure.
The Hope Street level entrance to the LADWP headquarters building is accessible despite light construction currently in progress on the building exterior. Upon entry, guests will be asked to sign in at the Security desk, pass through a screening device and wear a temporary visitor’s badge.
The public is invited. You can RSVP by clicking here.
We will be attending and we will report back on what LADWP has to say. If you attend as well, please come up and introduce yourself.
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