Nevada enhances solar incentives; still not enough

The American Southwest is a mixed bag of solar opportunity in whichArizona’s excellent incentives are outstanding partly because theystand alone. Nevada, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico have similarlysun-drenched climates but offer uneven encouragement to residents toinstall solar panels on their homes and businesses. With Californiablazing the solar incentive trail just next door…what gives? Partly,these states–like many others throughout the country–lack propermotivation. And by “proper motivation” I mean high electric rates. Whenthe per-kilowatt hour cost of electricity is below average, it isincredibly difficult to make the electricity generated by solar panelscost competitive. There are other factors, of course: statelegislatures that can’t spare the money from already stretched budgets,or won’t spare it due to interests in traditional energy markets, orconstituencies that haven’t pulled together to demand a shift towardsclean energy. 

But as the national attitude towards clean energy and a low-carboneconomy changes, more and more states are kicking into high gear forsolar. Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons seems to be on board: he’s justsigned into law two brand-new renewable energy bills. One extends taxabatements for solar property, and the other institutes a more exactingrenewable portfolio standard (RPS). Neither bill provides enoughsupport for small-scale solar to result in a wave of residential solarpanel installations, but together, they do provide a much betterplatform upon which future legislation can be based.

Currently, Nevada offers a rebate for solarwhose maximum incentive caps for different sectors limit its realusefulness. With just over $10,000 per residential project and acommercial project cap of 1 MW, it’s no wonder there hasn’t been muchsolar activity within the state. Hopefully this new legislation willwhet state residents’ appetites for more. Here are the bill details,from Renewable Energy World

Summary of primary solar provisions in AB 522:

  • Extends and enhances sales and property tax abatements for wholesale renewable energy projects in Nevada above 10 MW in size.
  • Establishes a fund for low interest loans to build renewable energyprojects authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Summary of primary solar provisions in SB 358:

  • Requires that the state’s investor-owned utility generate 25percent of its energy from renewables by 2025 (increased from 20percent by 2015).
  • Requires that 6 percent of the RPS come from solar resources beginning in 2016, an increase from 5 percent.
  • Establishes a 30 day application approval process for the state’sSolarGenerations rebate program. Eligibility capacity and categoriesfor the program remain at 1 MW for schools, 760 kW for publicbuildings, 1 MW for residential and small commercial under 30 kW).
  • Establishes additional rebates for 2 MW of solar at schools.

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