Thursday, January 29, 2009

CA Home Solar Sales 2009: Early Results

John Supp, program manager of the CA Solar Initiative at the California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE), said 71 residential solar rebate applications have been processed thus far this month by SDG&E customers with another 12 apps just hitting his desk. Nearly twice as many reserved rebates in 2008 compared to 2007. Despite the weak economy, Supp said this is a good start compared to a year ago and is a likely reflection of the improved federal tax credit.

"A lot of buyers are purchasing 5kWDC systems so the 30% tax credit means $9000 instead of the $2000 maximum allowed [from 2006 through 2008]," said Supp. He went on to say it appears installed costs have dropped from December to this month. Average installed cost last month in San Diego was $8.40/WDC; this month it's about $7.98/WDC installed but he adds this if from a relively small sampling. This compares to $8.52/W in the PG&E territory (Santa Barbara to San Francisco) and $9.05/W in the SoCal Edison area (Central CA).

Has there been a major drop in panel costs as was widely anticipated late last year?

"There's been a lag in the market and supply to see much noticeable change in panel prices. In fact, statewide installed prices are up from the last six months of '08," Supp remarked. Average installed costs for home PV systems from July-December averaged $8.17/WDC and this month it's up to $8.70 statewide with the limited data available. Supp surmises the impact of the 30% solar tax credit [with the CSI rebate], which defrays so much more of the cost for the end user, could be the culprit. Cost data has fluctuated differently over the years in each utility territory and there is the obvious answer. Still, it's much too early to say if this will be a continuing trend.

In 2007, when the CA Solar Initiative (Million Solar Roofs) went into effect, 560 rebate applications were filed with CCSE by SDG&E customers with only 25 were cancellations (4.46%). Last year 1074 applications were processed with just 11 cancelling (1%).

"The fact so many went solar last year is exciting for the industry in that the rebate was reducing from the initial $2.50 per watt and the tax credit was just $2000," said Supp. "It seems people are realizing that while incentives are depleting, solar's value keeps rising."


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