P.O. Box 500
1492 Wind River Hwy
Carson, Washington 98610

Phone: 509-427-5126
Toll-Free 800-922-5329

Managers Message – June/July 2015

The PUD is receiving more frequent inquiries about residential rooftop solar systems.  The most common question is “Does the PUD participate in the Washington State Renewable Energy Cost Recovery Incentive Program?”  The answer is yes.  Many of the inquiries are from contract vendors of rooftop solar systems and not from Skamania PUD customers.  It is a good time to inform you of the incentives available for residential renewable electric generation and provide some associated information.

Renewable Energy Programs and Incentives:  There are three main programs with incentives/subsidies offered at the different levels of government.

The Federal Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit offers a tax credit of 30% on qualifying expenditures toward a residential renewable energy project.  The project must be placed in service by Dec. 31, 2016.  This credit is applied for with your personal Federal income tax filing.

The WA State Renewable Energy Cost Recovery Incentive Program offers annual payment for energy (kWh) generated.  The base rate is $0.15/kWh and can be as much as $0.54/kWh if you use solar modules and inverters manufactured in Washington State.  The maximum annual incentive payment is $5,000.  The PUD pays the annual incentive payment to the residential solar generator and then the PUD applies for an equivalent tax credit with WA State when we file our annual taxes.  This program sunsets June 30, 2020.

The PUD has a Net Metering Policy where a residential renewable energy generator receives a credit on their regular bill for energy their system generates in excess of their usage.  The credit is at the residential energy rate charged by the PUD.  100kW is the maximum allowed generation capacity of a renewable generation project interconnected with the PUD’s distribution system.  Annually the PUD reconciles the account of net metered customers.  At the annual reconciliation, credits in excess of a customer’s usage are forfeited; in other words generation in excess of usage is not incentivized.

Is Rooftop Solar Right for You?  Like all new technologies, there are pros and cons to consider.  Here are some points to ponder.  Western Washington has some of the lowest average annual solar radiation in the nation.  The National Renewable Energy Laboratory reports 2 to 3 kWh/m2/day for western WA compared to 4 to 5  kWh/m2/day in central and southern CA.  WA has the lowest electric utility rates in the nation and with all of Skamania PUD’s electricity coming from BPA, 85% is renewable hydro-electric, 10% is carbon-free nuclear power and 5% or less is fossil fuel based.  In the northwest, electricity generated from rooftop solar is an expensive renewable energy source displacing inexpensive renewable hydro-electric energy.  Rooftop solar projects in our area (using all of the subsidy incentives) can pay for themselves in 5 to 7 years.  Be aware that the Federal incentive expires Dec. 31, 2016 and the WA incentive expires Jun. 30, 2020; so the window to recover your project construction cost is closing.  These programs may be extended or replaced but are subject to the political environment.

The PUD will work with you to interconnect your generation project to the grid should you choose to “go  solar.”

Brent Bischoff, General Manager