Canterbury, New Hampshire - Solar Hot Water + Solar Electric

A photovoltaic system in Canterbury, NH which benefited from the State’s residential PV rebate program

Following speculation from a few months ago, the NH PUC has issued a ruling decreasing the NH State’s residential photovoltaic (PV) rebate from $1.25/watt, $4,500 maximum, to $0.75/watt, $3,750 maximum.  While this sounds like a blow to the program, it is actually a smart move from the PUC in ensuring the long-term health of the program and availability of rebates to the growing number of homeowners interested in solar in New Hampshire.

In both spring 2011 and 2012, the pool of money that funds the NH state rebate was exhausted before additional funds were received (which happens each July).  The result is that participants were put on a waiting list; while the waiting list applications were ultimately honored, it depleted a portion of the following year’s funds resulting in a smaller pool for new applicants.

The reduction in rebate amount hopes to compensate for this, by keeping a more consistent rebate available year-round and thus being able to fund more solar PV projects.  It’s also consistent with the dropping cost of solar panels – at today’s prices, photovoltaic systems even with the reduced incentive pay for themselves in under 10 years, which is a remarkable improvement from the economics of solar four years ago.

There’s much that can still be improved from a policy standpoint – for example, a true market for carbon credits ala Massachusetts (SRECs) would provide a market-based, performance-driven sustainable incentive for solar, and help solar compete more fairly against fossil-based sources of electricity.  We also have plenty to say about the regulatory environment in New Hampshire regarding solar projects, but we’ll save that for another day!

We are pleased to see the PUC reaffirm their commitment to the solar program and work on crafting a sustainable and valuable incentive program.  Full details on the ruling here: http://www.puc.nh.gov/Regulatory/Orders/2012orders/25388e.pdf (PDF)