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Solar incentives the focus of new Consumer Energy Alliance report

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The cost of installing rooftop solar systems is at a record low due in part to government and utility incentives, according to a new report.

The report, commissioned by the Consumer Energy Alliance, found incentives have significantly reduced the residential customers’ costs of installing rooftop solar systems.

Michael Whatley, executive vice president of the Consumer Energy Alliance, said in a statement the organization is hopeful the report will help produce “pro-solar, pro-grid, and pro-consumer policies here in Florida to ensure the proliferation of solar technology, the continued efficiency of a robust electric grid, and increased access to clean, renewable, affordable, and reliable energy sources for all American consumers.”

In Florida, the report found a single 6,000-watt rooftop solar system receives $18,129 in taxpayer and net metering incentives. That breaks down to $3.02 in incentives per watt, and equals about 86 percent of the total cost of the system.

A 3,900-watt rooftop solar system in Florida receives $11,707 in taxpayer and net metering incentives, or $3.02 in incentives per watt. The total package for a 3,900-watt system also accounts for about 86 percent of the total cost. In both cases, the vast majority of those incentives, 56 percent, are net metering incentives.

Net energy metering programs bill customers for the net amount of electricity used, minus the amount a customer produces on it. Excess energy flows back to the utility, and then a customer receives bill credits used on future bills.

Like Florida, net metering accounts for the largest share of incentives in most of the states in the Consumer Energy Alliance report.

According to the report, California offers $43,664 in available incentives for a 6,000-watt solar system, or about 208 percent of the installed cost. The vast majority of those available incentives, $37,364 or 178 percent, were net metering incentives.

Unlike other states where more than the total cost of the system is available in incentives, the report found Californians only are only eligible to receive incentives from net metering and the federal government.

Louisiana has $23,032 in available incentives for a 6,000-watt solar system, or about 110 percent of the total installed cost. Of that sum, $10,500 is available through a state incentive program, while $6,232 is available through net metering. State programs, according to the report, generally offer upfront or performance-based compensation.

“As technology continues to advance, solar energy is becoming an even more incredibly powerful and cost-competitive technology that has the potential to change the face of American energy both today and in the future,” said Whatley in a statement.

Consumer Energy Alliance is a national organization representing most sectors of the U.S. economy. Its members include Associated Industries of Florida, the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Florida Power & Light, and the Florida Electric Cooperative Association.

The organization’s report comes as Floridians are preparing to vote on a solar power constitutional amendment.

The amendment would put existing law regarding the rights of homeowners and business to own and lease solar equipment in the state constitution. Proponents of Amendment 1 say it would provide consumer protections against companies that have taken advantage of solar customers in other states.

The amendment is supported by Florida’s utilities companies, something opponents are quick to point out. Earlier this month, a coalition of organizations, including the Florida Solar Energy Industry Association and the League of Women Voters of Florida, blasted the effort and announced their opposition to the campaign.

The measure, backed by Consumers for Smart Solar, needs 60 percent of the vote to become law.

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