NH revises, reopens C&I solar rebate program

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

New Hampshire utility regulators have reopened a program offering a rebate to commercial and industrial electric customers who undertake qualifying solar energy projects, while reducing the size of the incentive and changing other program terms.

To encourage commercial and industrial (C&I) customers to participate in solar photovoltaic and solar thermal energy projects, the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission first approved a solar rebate program in 2010. That program disburses funds from the state's Renewable Energy Fund to customers in exchange for customers' development of qualifying solar projects.

Terms and conditions for New Hampshire's C&I solar rebate program have varied since 2010, and the amounts of rebates available under the program have generally decreased over time. In 2015, the Commission created two separate categories of eligible projects with different rebate rates: Category 1, consisting of solar electric and thermal systems rated less than or equal to 100 kilowatts (AC) or thermal equivalent, and Category 2 consisting of solar electric systems greater than 100 kilowatts (AC) but less than or equal to 500 kilowatts (AC).

A 2016 Commission order set program rebate levels at $0.65 per watt (AC) for Category 1 new electric projects, and $0.55 per watt (AC), but not in excess of $175,000, for Category 2 new electric projects, in each case subject to a limit of 25 percent of the total project cost if less than the incentive payment otherwise calculated.

But the program closed to new applications as of July 14, 2017, due to "record demand" and a lack of funds. Even the allocation of additional funds only reopened the program for waitlisted applications, while keeping it closed to new applicants.

On February 13, 2018, Commission staff recommended reopening the program, while modifying it to further reduce the applicable incentive levels and to consolidate Category 1 and 2 projects into a single program that would allow applications for projects with capacities up to and including 500 kW AC.

On March 8, 2018, the Commission issued its Order No. 26,111, modifying the solar rebate program's terms and reopening the program. The changes include reduction in the amount of the rebate to $0.40 per watt up to a maximum of $50,000, or 25 percent of total project cost, whichever is less; and consolidation of Category 1 and 2 photovoltaic projects into a single program that would allow applications for projects with capacities up to and including 500 kilowatts AC. No change was made to the program terms and conditions applicable to solar thermal projects.

Under the order, the modified program terms and conditions became effective on March 19, 2018, and the program was reopened as of that date. The Commission noted that in anticipation of "robust demand for and potential oversubscription of the reopened program," it will conduct a public lottery in April to allocate initial queue positions for applications.

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