Sun power pays for `pioneers’ in new program |

Sun power pays for `pioneers’ in new program

Jeremy Heiman

Valley residents who install solar electric systems in their homes can take advantage of cash incentives in the first program of its kind in the nation.

The Community Office for Resource Efficiency (CORE) is offering the cash incentives to promote the use of solar energy. Its partners in the incentive program, called Sun Power Pioneers, are the city of Aspen and Holy Cross Electric Association. Funding for the incentives will come from the Turner Foundation, the Cities for Climate Protection Campaign and Aspen Skiing Co.’s Environmental Foundation, along with Holy Cross and Aspen Municipal Electric.

The Sun Power Pioneers program breaks new ground in the United States because no American community has yet been successful in launching a solar production incentive program.

The incentives are based on the amount of solar power produced by photovoltaic systems. Sun Power Pioneers will earn 25 cents per kilowatt-hour for all the power their systems produce for three years. CORE’s goal is to install 30 systems averaging two kilowatts each, or 60 kilowatts of solar power, by the year 2000.

A homeowner installing a two-kilowatt photovoltaic system (a typical system) that produces 3,200 kilowatt-hours, would receive $800 per year, amounting to $2,400 over three years.

Randy Udall, CORE’s executive director, said a two-kilowatt photovoltaic system will supply about one-half the electricity used in a typical household, using an electric stove, stereo and other appliances.

Joani Matranga, CORE’s administrative coordinator, said the incentive program is patterned after a successful campaign to increase solar-produced electricity in Europe. German and Swiss programs offer even higher incentive payments per kilowatt-hour produced.

Homeowners who take advantage of the Sun Power Pioneers program are also eligible for $2,500 rebates for new photovoltaic installations from the Colorado Office of Energy Conservation. If a new two-kilowatt system costs $14,000 installed, the combined incentives could reduce the cost by almost $5,000, or 35 percent.

The Sun Power Pioneers program is another example of the city of Aspen’s long-standing commitment to renewable energy. The city is the largest purchaser of electric power from Colorado’s first wind farm, and much of its power also comes from hydroelectric sources.

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