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Solar Mandate? Like it or Not, Consumers Pay

Fortnightly Magazine - December 1998

of the renewable funds will be available for technical assistance studies, 25 percent for marketing and public relations and about 50 percent for "externality rewards." According to Don Wichert of the energy bureau, externality rewards provide 50 cents per annual projected kWh from a PV system. For instance, an $8,000, 1 kW system running at 20 percent capacity would generate 1,752 kWh per year, making it eligible for $876, or about 10 percent of the cost.

William A. Spratley is owner of William A. Spratley & Associates of Columbus, Ohio, a public utility consultancy. Spratley publishes the LEAP Letter on industry restructuring and is a former Ohio Consumers' Counsel.


1 A renewable portfolio standard (RPS) requires that competitive retail electric provider must supply a percentage of their power from solar, wind, biomass, geothermal and other renewable energy resources. The RPS is part of the new laws in Maine, Nevada, Massachusetts and Connecticut. A solar portfolio standard is also proposed by Arizona regulators to work in tandem with a new Arizona retail access law applying to publicly owned utilities. See Lisa Prevost, "Renewable Energy: Toward a Portfolio Standard?" Public Utilities Fortnightly, Aug. 1, 1998.

2 Producing more than 40 percent of America's electricity sales, the 97 UPVG members proposed to deploy up to 50 MW of PV over six years with $160 million of DOE funds in September 1993 in TEAM-UP, or Technology Experience to Accelerate Markets in Utility Photovoltaics.

3 California PV solar rebate program administered by the California Energy Commission.

4 Vincent Schwent, California Energy Commission, "Emerging Renewables Buydown Program," Soltech 98 Conference, April 29, 1998.

5 The program will be operated by Green Mountain Solar (GMS) and Applied Power Corporation (APC) under the California PV buy down program.

6 Similar laws were enacted in New York, Nevada and Maryland in 1997, Washington, Vermont and New Hampshire in 1998. Regulatory affirmations in Maine in 1997 and Massachusetts, Iowa, and Rhode Island in 1998.

7 The PV systems will cost between $9,500 and $13,500 each with GMS to offer financing packages. The California rebate and GMS program apply only to the customers of investor-owned utilities.

8 On April 27, the Public Service Co. of New Mexico announced that Applied Power Co. and Science Applications Intl. Corp. won the bids to build the world's largest solar generation source in Albuquerque. The 5 MW system, with a 30 cent/kWh generation cost, went before the New Mexico Public Service Commission (Case 2740). By September, the regulatory negotiation process was centered on a 3 MW unit, however, after strong objections to the centralized, grid-tied PV project by the New Mexico Solar Energy Industries Association.

9 Howard Wenger, Tom Hoff, and Donald Osborn, "A Case Study of Utility PV Economics," American Solar Energy Society, Solar '97 Conference, April 1997.

10 Ryan Wiser, William Golove, and Steve Pickle, "California's Electric Market: What's In It for the Customer," Public Utilities Fortnightly, August 1998.

11 Christine T. Donovan, "Scoping Study of Renewable Electric Resources for Rhode Island and Massachusetts," filed at the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission by the