Rochester, NH - Solar Electricity Rebate

ReVision's NH-based installation crew on a recent solar electric (PV) installation in Rochester, NH

On Thursday, May 17th, the NH PUC issued an order of notice hinting at what we’ll see for a 2012 solar photovoltaic (PV) rebate in NH for solar panels.  It looks promising that the PV rebate will return, likely at a maximum of $3,000 for residential solar rather than 2011’s $4,500 cap.

In March of this year, the PUC announced that rebate applicants would start going onto a waitlist as program funds had been exhausted.  The reason funds run out is that incentive payments are funded through New Hampshire’s Renewable Energy Fund (REF), which is supported by alternative compliance payments (ACPs) made by electric service providers who cannot meet their Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) obligations through the purchase of Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs).

In plain English – electric companies who cannot source enough green power have to put money in a fund which goes towards state renewable energy rebates.  This pool of money varies each year, and the NH PUC tries to do the best they can with these funds, but for the last few years the state rebate programs have proven so successful that program money runs out before the following year’s compliance payments are received.

What Happens Next with NH Solar Rebates?

The May 17 order of notice says two things that give us faith that the NH PUC will be reviving the program.  The Commission notes that “We continue to be pleased by the strong demand for renewable home power coupled with falling prices for PV components.  More and more NH homes are meeting their energy needs with renewable resources and we believe this trend will only accelerate in an era of high energy prices and increasingly affordable renewable energy options.”

Countering that is their justification for modifying the amount of the rebate: “While we are quite pleased with the success of this program we are also committed to allocating limited funds in a fair manner to all of our renewable energy rebate programs … The Commission is considering reducing the rebate level from $1.25 per watt to $0.75 per watt and to reduce the per-system maximum from $4,500 to $3,000, or 50% of the total system cost, whichever is less.”

When We’ll Know About NH Rebates

The Commission will be taking public comment at a hearing on June 7, 2012 here at the PUC’s office at 21 5. Fruit St., Suite 10, Concord, New Hampshire at 1:30pm to take public comment.  Written comment is also welcome and may be submitted to [email protected].

We find the PUC’s commitment to a NH residential solar electric rebate program refreshing, and are encouraged to hear they are considering modifying the program’s specifications to have more consistent funding.  We would prefer a rebate program that is consistent year-round and not subject to the starts and stops of the NH PV program to date.

Here is a link to the complete order of notice, DE 12-127: DE 12-127.PDF