Holy Cross adds $250,000 to solar rebate program | AspenTimes.com

Holy Cross adds $250,000 to solar rebate program

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Holy Cross Energy has added a ray of sunshine for customers planning to install solar photovoltaic systems this year.

The Glenwood Springs-based energy cooperative’s board of directors reallocated $250,000 from its 2009 budget to provide rebates for more customers building solar electric systems.

Holy Cross originally had $1.1 million available for rebates, but the funds only lasted until May because of a surge in the number of projects. Holy Cross provides power to parts of the Roaring Fork and Eagle valleys as well as some of the lower Colorado Valley.

Solar installation businesses feared the lack of rebate funds would dampen enthusiasm among homeowners for solar electric projects.

The board and staff of Holy Cross combed over the budget and found funds that could be reallocated, according to Steve Casey, the energy company’s director of membership services. All funds were shifted from within the WE CARE program, which stands for With Efficiency, Conservation And Renewable Energy.

“No program was entirely eliminated,” Casey said. Instead, the staff and board looked at funds allocated to other parts of the WE CARE program for the year and compared them to what had been spent over the first half of 2009 and expectations there were for the second half. They found that funds could be reallocated to where the demand was greatest – with the solar rebate program. Nearly $100,000 alone was reallocated from a development that was delayed for one year and didn’t require a solar rebate, Casey said.

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The solar rebate program was modified so it will spread funds among a greater number of projects for the remainder of the year. The rebate amount will remain at $2 per watt, but the cap was reduced from $20,000 to $12,000 per project. That translates into a full refund for a 6-kilowatt project rather than a 10-kilowatt project.

In addition, projects must now be completed within 120 days from completion of a pre-application process to be eligible for the rebate. Holy Cross wants to make sure the funds are used and not just reserved.

Holy Cross anticipates allocating all of the additional rebate funds this year, boosting the total rebate amount to $1.25 million, Casey said.

“Participation in Holy Cross’s rebate incentive program has grown exponentially from the first 1.60 kilowatt system installed in 2004 – a $3,200 rebate – to a projected addition of 625 kilowatts in 2009 equating to an expenditure of $1.25 million,” the company said in a statement.

Holy Cross Energy is the leader among Colorado’s 22 electric distribution cooperatives in terms of installed capacity for renewable energy generation, according to Casey.

“With current projections expected to be realized by year end, Holy Cross will have added approximately 1,210 kilowatts of renewable energy generation to its system in the last five years,” the company’s statement said. That translates into enough kilowatt hours of clean local energy to power 138 homes for one year, assuming average usage of 1,100 kilowatt hours per month.

More information about the solar rebate program can be found at http://www.holycross.com.

scondon@aspentimes.com

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