Xcel Energy’s popular Solar*Rewards incentive program has undergone a few key changes for 2019. These changes are highlighted by adjusted incentive rates, additional consumer protection provisions, and a new low-income branch of the program. These changes come only six months after the Minnesota Legislature passed HF 3232, which raised the capacity size limit for Solar*Rewards projects from 20kW to 40kW. You can read about that change here.
Incentive Rate Changes
In 2018 both commercial and residential program participants received $.08 for every kilowatt hour of electricity they produced. This year, the incentive rates have dropped to $.06 per kWh for commercial participants and $.07 per kWh for residential participants. While these reduced rates will lower the financial benefit program participants receive, they will allow the total incentive budget to be split among more projects.
Consumer Protection Provisions
The Solar*Rewards program now requires every installer submitting a residential application to be a licensed Minnesota Residential Building Contractor. This aims to help protect customers by ensuring that only qualified installers are using the program.
The new MN Contractor Recovery Fund was also created with customers in mind. The fund compensates owners or lessees of residential property in Minnesota who have suffered actual and direct out-of-pocket loss due to a licensed contractor’s fraudulent, deceptive or dishonest practices, or failure of performance.
Income Qualified Incentives
This year Xcel Energy has added Income Qualified Incentives into the Solar*Rewards program. These incentives are only available to customers that meet certain income guidelines and have separate rates for residential, non-profit & multi-family, and solar garden customers.
Unlike the traditional Solar*Rewards incentives, the Income Qualified Incentives are structured as an upfront per-watt rebate combined with a production incentive. Xcel has set aside between 10 and 20 percent of the total incentive pool specifically for these projects. With the current budget at just over $9,000,000, at least $900,000 will be set aside for Income Qualified Incentives.