Clean energy advocates in New Hampshire have two big reasons to be thankful this season – the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission has announced an expansion of the solar hot water rebate available to homeowners and has released the application for their commercial solar hot water and solar electric rebate (PDF).
Here are some details on both programs:
Residential Solar Thermal is Hot
The solar hot water rebate in New Hampshire is tiered based on the performance of the system, which is expressed in MMBTU / year. This consists of a state rebate that ranges from $600-900 and a federal rebate which has been raised from $750 to $2,000.
Here’s what the rebate program looks like for different kinds of systems:
|Estimated MMBTU Per Year||Previous Max Rebate||New Max Rebate||Est. Fed Tax Credit||Total Incentive|
|6 MMBTU – 19.9 MMBTU||$1,350||$2,600||$2,175||$4,775|
|20 MMBTU – 29.9 MMBTU||$1,500||$2,750||$2,775||$5,525|
|30 MMBTU or greater||$1,650||$2,900||$3,375||$6,275|
For a typical residential project (2 flat plate collectors which produce ~18.25MMBTU/yr) installed at a cost of around $10,500, the incentives amount to $5,750, well over half the cost of the system!
The rebates are retroactive, as well, so if you recently installed a solar hot water system and qualified for the New Hampshire state rebate, you can expect a holiday gift from the PUC soon.
Rebates Arrive for Business
Equally exciting is the arrival of the much anticipated commercial solar hot water and solar electric rebate.
This program makes $1,000,000 available to solar thermal and solar electric projects for businesses, schools, municipalities, apartment buildings – basically any structure not eligible under the residential program.
The rebates are pretty straightforward:
- Photovoltaic (Solar Electric): $1/Watt up to $50,000 (or 25% of the project cost, whatever is less)
- Solar Thermal rebate: $0.07 per kBTU/year up to $50,000 (or 25% of the project cost, whatever is less)
Like the residential solar hot water program, a RETScreen modeling analysis is used to calculate the kBTU/year performance of the solar hot water systems. Solar electric is fixed based on the nominal wattage.
Solar Economics are Amazing
The generous rebate makes it extremely attractive to invest in solar if you’re a business. Let’s take, for example, a medium scale solar thermal project for a business that uses a lot of hot water – a hotel or retirement home, perhaps – and is currently heating that water with oil.
We’ll propose a system of 20 flat plate hot water collectors and several super-insulated tanks that will produce over 182,500,000 BTUs/year of clean thermal energy. We’ll imagine that the system will save 2,300 gallons of #2 oil per year, a result of both reduced oil use and greatly reducing standby losses of the oil boiler in the summertime.
Assuming this hot water system costs around $100,000 gross to install, the fuel savings alone will pay for the cost of the system within its first decade of operation.
However, now there is an exciting suite of rebates to apply:
$100,000 gross installed cost
($30,000) federal tax credit
($28,900) accelerated depreciation – avoided taxes over 5 years thanks to lowered net income, assumes 34% marginal tax bracket
($12,775) state rebate – $0.07/modeled kBtu/year
$28,325 net investment – less than a third of the total cost of the project!
Within this new context, that same solar hot water system will pay for itself within two years thanks to the fuel savings.
While the wasteful boiler imagined in this formula is a “best case” scenario for solar, the economics work out for businesses of all sizes who are ready to both take an enormous cut out of their carbon emissions and save money while doing it.