Rocky Mountain Power customers can apply to receive cash incentives to help them offset the cost of installing solar energy systems on their homes and business this coming year.
The utility's expanded Solar Incentive Program, which was authorized late last year by the Public Service Commission, is designed to provide $50 million to Utah residents over the next five years.
Potential participants, however, only have a limited time to apply. They must submit applications by Jan. 28, said Jeff Hymas, spokesman for Rocky Mountain Power.
"Once all the applications are received, program participants will be chosen randomly through a lottery system," he said, indicating that the number of Utahns chosen will be based on the size of the proposed systems selected and the available funding.
Hymas explained the incentives amounts are for:
• Residential systems $1.25 per watt up to a maximum of 4 kilowatts, or 4,000 watts
• Small businesses, churches, etc. $1 per watt up to a maximum of 25 kilowatts, or 25,000 watts
• Large businesses 80 cents per watt up to a maximum of 1,000 kilowatts, or 1 million watts
Based upon those numbers, a Utahn who wants to put a 4 kilowatt system on a home could get as much as $5,000 to help offset the cost of the project.
Joe Raycraft of Utah Solar & Alternative Energy Inc. in Park City estimated that a 4-kilowatt system would cost around $12,000 to $13,500 to install. "So, Rocky Mountain Power's incentive could help offset quite a bit of the cost," he said.
He said the interest in solar power systems has been growing in recent years. More recently it has been given a boost by both the rising cost of electricity produced from the more traditional sources and the declining cost of solar power equipment.
In 2013, Rocky Mountain Power is hoping to provide funding to help Utah homeowners build solar power systems capable of producing a total of 500 kilowatts of electricity. It has funding to encourage small-business owners to build systems capable of producing 3,000 kilowatts of power and 3,000 kilowatts at large businesses.
"In addition to reducing the cost to install solar equipment, these incentives can help participating customers save money year after year through lower electricity bills," said Karen Gilmore, Rocky Mountain Power's vice president of customer services.
Just as important, the incentive program also provides benefits to utility customers who don't participate by reducing overall electricity use and demand on the utility's system.
"Our analysis shows a net benefit of $1.63 for every dollar we put into the [solar incentive] program," Gilmore said.