Housing Complex

Jilted Solar Panelists Get Their Rebates

Remember those 51 people who were told they wouldn't be getting the rebates on solar systems they'd been promised? The Council just passed emergency legislation to put that money back into the Renewable Energy Incentive Program, delivering $13,000 per homeowner on average.

The downside of the reprogramming: That $700,000 came not from the general fund, but the Sustainable Energy Trust Fund, which now stands at about $15 million. So although the District will follow through on its commitments to people who went solar, the District will also have less money to spend on things like low income energy assistance, weatherization, and energy efficiency improvements in public buildings.*

Which is just another reason why it's important to make solar a viable financial proposition on its own, without hefty subsidies.

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* CORRECTION, March 17 – A previous version of this post said that the Sustainable Energy Utility would have less money to spend. Rather, the SEU will operate on an $8 million contract in its first year, which will not be depleted by the transfer of funds to the Renewable Energy Incentive Program.

  • http://www.mtpleasantsolarcoop.org/ Anya Schoolman

    I am really surprised by the snarky tone of this posting! It is misleading.. as only $8 million of the SETF is slated to go to the SEU-- so the emergency legislation isn't keeping the money from SEU but keeping it from being spent for Pepco PR projects--who pays for those ads on buses?? Or more likely the transfer will prevent future raiding by the DC Council to buy Navigators or who knows what.

    Some of the rebates are big. But they are nothing compared to subsidies developers get when they put in a new hotel or whatnot.. The rebates are meant to jump start the solar industry in DC, and until all the money was pulled--they were doing just that! Show me the jobs! The solar rebate program was one of the few that actually produced them.

    Furthermore, the people who will get funding--had been given a commitment by the city that they were pre-approved for funding and many had gone on and signed contracts and even paid for their systems. Many of the 51 are not rich folks --but regular folks like you and me--they could not afford the solar without the city support. And were left hanging by the Council's sudden decision in December to raid money from the program and transfer it to general funds.

    By having such a large rebate--solar was briefly made affordable to someone of almost any income level in DC. More articles like this and solar will --once again only be available for the rich.

    This article is extremely misleading and divisive!

    Anya Schoolman
    DC Solar Neighborhoods United
    Mt Pleasant Solar Coop

  • Wrack

    I agree with the commitment argument but not the jobs argument. How many jobs have the millions of $$ spent on solar in the District created? Like 10? 20? That's peanuts.

  • mac

    I didn't get the article's "snarky" tone, with all due respect to Ms. Schoolman. What I did get is that, once again, there is a "let's rob Peter to pay Paul" budget shifting and yet another piece of "emergency legislation" being passed by the council. "We have money. We don't have money. We found some money," is too often cited by our council. I think Ms. Schooman and I could concur that budget transparency is an issue for which we should hold the DC government to task.

    How much/many "emergency legislation" actions are passed through the council in a term? When did "emergency" become synonymous with "oops, I forgot?"

  • Dan Maceda

    This is off topic but relevant to our budget problem
    FIRST "Mr Majett the new director of DCRA testified at Councilwoman Alexanders's oversight hearing the following
    D. Vacant and blighted property In the wake of the Council’s re-establishment of vacant and blighted
    property tax rates, DCRA has established procedures for the identification and designation of such buildings, as well as an appeals process. We currently have identified 2,991 vacant buildings in the District. Of that,
    1,217 have been processed for the first half of the 2011 tax year. As a result, on March 2, we transmitted to the Office of Tax and Revenue a list of 421 vacant
    buildings for Class 3 classification at the $5 property tax rate. We also transmitted a list of 346 blighted vacant buildings for Class 4 classification at the $10 property tax rate. An additional 450 buildings were designated as vacant, but qualified for an exemption from the Class 3 tax rate.
    SECOND The remaining 1,774 identified vacant
    buildings are either not yet up for renewal or their registration is pending. I should emphasize that the vacant property tax rate applies only to buildings, and not to vacant lots.

    I'm suggesting that a priority be given to processing those remaining 1774 vacant buildings by temporarily increasing staffing in order to process and tax those properties.
    The Council finds money for all kinds of things how about for increasing revenue.

  • Tom Kelly

    Renewable energy of all sorts has to battle through some 4 generations of Americans who are in denial about multi-billion dollar government subsidies for fossil fuel extraction and refining.

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