Keeping the lights on: An ongoing report of local power conditions
Uploaded: Tuesday, February 20, 2001 2 p.m.

Rebate offered for solar power
City program operates on first-come, first-served basis

Thinking of switching to solar power but fear you can't afford it? The city of Palo Alto may be able to help.

The city's PV Partners Program will assist both residential home owners and commercial businesses interested in adopting solar power by offering up to 50 percent of the costs of purchase and installation.

However, funding is on a first-come, first-serve basis since the 2000/2001 budget is only $124,000. To date--in addition to Palo Alto Utility's five demonstration sites--six solar panel arrays have been installed in the community, including the 32,000-volt Palo Alto Hardware array. An additional eight applications are being processed by the Utility Department.

The program was launched in May, 1999 and offers a $4 rebate per kilowatt. To qualify, a set of requirements must be met:

All flat plate PV (photovoltaic) modules and inverters must be on on the utility list of eligible PV modules;

The system must come with a minimum five- year warranty against breakdown or unusual degradation;

The system must be installed by a licensed contractor, unless installed by the purchaser;

The system must be installed in accordance with all applicable building and national electric codes. Building permits are required for homes while commercial buildings must go through Planning Commission review. Building inspections are required for home and commercial work;

The system must be connected to the utility grid. Participants will be switched to a "net metering" electric rate;

Users must agree to future utility inspections of the equipment to verify PV system performance, and;

Participants must operate and maintain the system for a minimum of five years.

How do you get the rebate? Select a qualified PV contractor and eligible PV system to purchase; complete and submit your application before installing your system, to reserve your payment; once your application is approved, your system must be installed within 90 days; submit the final invoice to the city of Palo Alto Utility.

Checks will be sent out within two weeks.

A packet, including an application form and a list of approved PV systems and installers, is available at the utilities office on the third floor of City Hall.

--Marv Snow


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