Billions for Solar Subsidies, not one cent for conservation?

WindsunWindsun Solar Expert Posts: 1,164 ✭✭
I have been going over very closely some of the stuff in the last (well, ok, about 22 bailouts ago) energy stuff that included the solar tax rebates.

So far I have been unable to find anything substantial at all about any conservation incentives, even though it has long been known that conservation is nearly always more effective than producing new energy.

Am I missing something?


  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,988 admin
    Re: Billions for Solar Subsidies, not one cent for conservation?

    Here in California, we have one Conservation Intensive. My electric rate (E1 is the common flat rate residential; E7 is my Time of Use Residential... Baseline is around 300 kWhrs per month):
    Total Energy Rates ($ per kWh)  [B]PEAK[/B]  [I][B]OFF-PEAK[/B][/I] 
       Baseline Usage  $0.29761   (R)    [I][B]$0.08747[/B][/I]   (R)   
          101% - 130% of Baseline  $0.29761   (R)  [I][B]$0.08747[/B][/I]   (R)   
          131% - 200% of Baseline  $0.41382   (R)  $0.20369   (R)   
          201% - 300% of Baseline  $0.52126   (R)    $0.31112   (I)   
          Over 300% of Baseline  [B]$0.57755[/B]   (R)    $0.36742   (I)   
      [B]Winter [/B]     
       Baseline Usage  $0.11597   (R)    [I][B]$0.09054[/B][/I]   (R)   
          101% - 130% of Baseline  $0.11597   (R)    [I][B]$0.09054[/B][/I]   (R)   
          131% - 200% of Baseline  $0.23218   (R)    $0.20675   (R)   
          201% - 300% of Baseline  $0.33962   (I)    $0.31419   (I)   
          Over 300% of Baseline  [B]$0.39591[/B]   (I)    $0.37048   (I)
    So, I pretty much do anything I can to get the $0.09 per kWhr and not pay the $0.58 per kWhr price. In reality, I keep my baseline below 300kWhr without my solar grid tied system. With my solar GT, I actually have an excess of net metered power (still waiting for that perfect electric car to plug in).

    I know that this is not what you intended... For everyone in the US, a comprehensive list of rebates, credits, and laws by state, regarding Renewable Energy:

    Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy

    You can search for Energy Efficiency programs in here... But most seem to be the result of special interest/lobbying. Many are very limited in scope, and some are very local (down to the city level waving some building fees).

    For example at the Federal Level: Residential Energy Efficiency Tax Credit
    The federal tax credit for energy efficient home improvements was established by the Energy Policy Act of 2005. After expiring on December 31, 2007, the credit was extended by The Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008 (H.R. 1424, Division B), and now applies to eligible equipment purchased between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2009. Equipment purchased during calendar year 2008 is not eligible for the tax credit. In addition to extending the credit, H.R. 1424 modified the efficiency requirements for water heaters; removed the geothermal heat pump credit from 26 USC § 25C and moved it to 26 USC § 25D; and extended the credit to stoves that use biomass fuel and asphalt roofs with appropriate cooling granules.

    The credit applies to energy efficiency improvements in the building envelope of existing homes and for the purchase of high-efficiency heating, cooling and water-heating equipment. Efficiency improvements or equipment must serve a dwelling in the United States that is owned and used by the taxpayer as a primary residence. The maximum amount of homeowner credit for all improvements combined is $500 during the three year period of the tax credit (2006, 2007 and 2009). Geothermal heat pumps were originally included with these credits and subject to a $300 cap. Geothermal heat pumps are now covered by the Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit, with a $2,000 cap.
    Or, for most people, 10% federal tax credit up to $500 maximum b(on $5,000 worth of work/supplies).

    And, again for California, most utilities have been directed to offer a multitude of programs (this one is for Northern California customers of PG&E):
    Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) offers three rebate programs for residential customers to install energy efficient equipment in their homes. More information on these programs can be found at the above program website.

    A number of prescriptive rebates are available for energy efficiency improvements through the Standard Energy Efficiency Rebate Program, including lighting improvements, heating and cooling improvements, remodeling projects and pool improvements. More information and applications for rebates are available at the program website and customers can apply for the rebates online through the e-Rebate system.

    Through the Rebates for Multi-Family Properties Program, PG&E offers prescriptive rebates for owners and managers of multi-family properties of five or more units. Insulation, appliances, HVAC and lighting improvements are among the eligible products for rebates and owners or managers can receive up to $1,500 in incentives per property.

    Residential New Construction Rebates are available for builders of residential dwellings that incorporate energy efficient features. Incentives are available if builders meet the Energy Star requirements – 15% more efficient than required by the 2005 Title 24 Energy Code. For those homes that do not meet the Energy Star label but still include energy conserving features, PG&E offers prescriptive rebates to builders.
    If I knew of NAWS / Wind-Sun forum a few years ago when I did a major remodel on my 70 year old home, I probably could have applied for a few of these... (plus I would have been much more focused on energy efficiency--my contractor did not care at all--just followed my directions about what I wanted to do).

    But--I have applied for appliance rebates before--and after purchasing the appliance--found that one rebate or another (such as Electric and local Water District) was not qualified... And it was not always clear to me (or the sales person, apparently) where to look this stuff up to confirm everything qualified.

    In the end, it would not have affected my decision what to purchase (I don't like front loading washers)--but, depending on the state, there are a lot of programs out there.

    However, it takes a lot of effort to ensure that you find and implement them correctly (my solar installer gave us a sheet that said plug value $abc in box 47 on form 49889qZ--which at least made that part easy when April 15th taxes were due)...

    Overall though, the programs are all scatter shot--probably because the source of funding (at least at the state level) is so scattered shot that it could not be done better unless we turn everything over to the federal government.

    In many areas, additional costs simply go into the property tax equation. For example, if California did not exempt Solar panels, my property tax and state rebates would be:

    $30,000 * 1.2% = $360 per year property taxes
    $30,000 * 7% interest = $2,100 per year interest
    4,800 kWhrs per year * $0.12 per kWhr = $576 power savings

    $2,100+$360-$576=$1,884 in the hole (before rebates)

    With rebates and tax credits, and if I use more electricity (such as for an electric vehicle or more electric heat, less natural gas), I can save a bit of money with solar GT...

    And the same thing with ripping my interior walls out so that I could add fiberglass insulation and vapor barrier. Plus Double Pane Vinyl Windows, Skylights, and energy star appliances... I would hate to add all of this up, because, if I was lucky, this stuff may pay off in 20 years...

    I did this because it made our home much more livable (no drafts, not near as much arguing with my wife about 58F vs 65F for morning/evening heat, long showers that the kids like don't cost us an arm and a leg, etc...

    In the end, unless the person with the check book (home/building/etc. owner) cares about conservation and other advantages, nobody else is going to insist/assist at this point--other than what it takes to get the permits approved and the final inspection.

    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • Lefty WrightLefty Wright Solar Expert Posts: 111 ✭✭
    Re: Billions for Solar Subsidies, not one cent for conservation?

    One conservation incentive;

    PG&E in Northern California subsidizes compact flourescents.

    With the PG&E discount 13W CF's cost $7 for a package of 12 at Costco.
  • RoderickRoderick Solar Expert Posts: 253 ✭✭
    Re: Billions for Solar Subsidies, not one cent for conservation?

    I believe the tax credits for insulation and efficient appliances were extended also. See

    It's just not sexy, so doesn't make the news.
  • hillbillyhillbilly Solar Expert Posts: 334 ✭✭
    Re: Billions for Solar Subsidies, not one cent for conservation?

    I think this just shows that it's not really about being green, but about trying to provide a boost to industry. All in all, while this may not be ideal from an environmental perspective, or from a purely economic one, I do have hope that this will offer a lot more long term positive growth. Even if flawed and not ideal, if billions of subsidies are going to be spent somewhere (and apparently they will, weather we like it or not), I vastly prefer that they be spent on solar energy. I am very curious to see what actually comes about in the next couple of months and next couple of years... both on an economic and environmental level. These are some very interesting times we are experiencing...
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,988 admin
    Re: Billions for Solar Subsidies, not one cent for conservation?

    The PG&E one sure is subsidizing the Chinese CFL industry...

    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
Sign In or Register to comment.