Last fall Los Angeles’ main utility, Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (LADWP), was weighing a 30-percent cut to its solar rebate. Now, due to “record demand” for the rebates, DWP last Friday suspended the application process for at least 90 days.
The numbers tell all: some 2,000 rebate applications remainunprocessed, representing more than $110 million in demand for a roundof rebate funds that’s capped at $30 million for 2011. It seems peoplein L.A. really love solar power and how much money solar panels canshave off monthly electric bills. This is good news.
The bad news is that no one knows how things will pan out. According to DWP’s website,
the demand for rebates has far exceeded our currentbudget for the program, restricting our ability to pay out rebates in atimely manner as well as contributing to safety problems. This recorddemand requires LADWP to review and revise the program to better serveits program participants. LADWP has stopped accepting new reservationrequests for at least 90 days, effective at 11:59 p.m. Friday, April 8,2011, while we revise the program to better serve participants andreflect current solar PV market conditions.
Under the California Solar Initiative, homeowners and businessesacross the state are eligible to receive incentives to help offset thecost of installing solar panels. DWP, a public utility, for some timeoffered a rebate that was higher than the state average. A more generous rebate was necessary, some folks argued, due to the lower electricity rates in DWP service territory.
Details aside, the bottom line is that LADWP customers interested ininstalling a solar home energy system will have to wait and see howthings shake out. In recent years, we’ve seen similar scenarios — wheredemand for solar incentives outstrips supply — play out across thecountry in places like California, Arizona, New Jersey, Florida andMassachusetts.
When it comes to securing rebates for your solar power project, theearly bird gets the worm. As of earlier this year, for example, someArizona solar rebates for 2011 were already nearly half gone. So if you’re thinking about installing solar, you’d be wise to get a solar home quote sooner rather than later.