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Battery Backup Has An Incentive In California

Most early adopters of solar PV systems originally had the hopes of having power even if the grid went down with a power outage, only to find out that was not how things worked with grid-tied solar PV systems — if the grid went down, electricity from their PV system was also unavailable. But now that original dream can become a reality. By adding energy storage to the solar PV system, solar PV owners can have the security of being grid-tied (so that they can pull from the grid when needed), but when there is a grid failure, they will still have power.

The California Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) has been brought back and is now including Advanced Energy Storage (aka battery backup). So, what does that mean for Californians? This is a big step towards energy independence, even for the grid-tied utility customer. How can we go from 30-40% clean energy all the way to +70% here in California? The answer is a more flexible grid. And energy storage is part of the solution that provides us with that flexibility.

With the revived program, homeowners or business owners who have already gone solar or are now installing a solar system can invest in energy storage and store their generated electricity for use later and avoid using the energy generated from their solar systems during peak times. It’s the old adage “buy low, sell high.”

Now customers of PG&E, SCE, and SDG&E can save $1.80/W for energy storage, plus an additional 20% of the incentive when installing products from a California supplier. There are of course limitations and exclusions of this program – customers must be grid-tied to one of the eligible utilities, must use new equipment installed by a California-licensed contractor, and cannot be connected to a non-renewable generator, such as a standard diesel generator. But for that, they are only required to pay a minimum of 40% of the project cost!

The SGIP was first introduced in 2001, in response to the California energy crisis. It was suspended in 2010 in order to preserve program funding while bill 412 was enacted, which shifted focus to the reduction of GHG emissions. This program was recently brought back and includes energy storage.

The purpose of the Advanced Energy Storage part of this incentive is to reduce the strain on the grid during peak times, reduce GHG emissions, and relieve the utilities from upgrading many of the transmission lines needed. But it gives the customer so much more. I believe it’s what most of us have been waiting for, the next evolution in renewable energy.

This incentive is in place for residential customers, but also includes: commercial, industrial, nonprofit, schools, local government, state government, federal government, and institutional. The incentive will decrease each year by 10%, so in 2014 it will go from $1.80/W to $1.62/W for energy storage.

Author Bio: Jessica is experienced in sales and marketing of renewable energy technology for commercial and residential use. She helps customers understand the benefits of generating power thru sustainable practices, to ensure a future of continued energy production and use. Jessica began her energy career at Real Goods Solar as a lead generator. She quickly moved into a solar power consultant role at RGS, where she excelled at helping residential homeowners understand the benefits of going solar. Jessica eventually was able to move into a role with RGS that brought her back to her core knowledge and education as the Marketing Manager for both the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley. Currently she is further developing her career in energy by working at JLM Energy, an energy technology company, as a Regional Sales Manager and Marketing Manager. Her commitment to renewable energy has brought her to JLM because of its unique portfolio approach to energy savings — wind technology, solar PV, solar thermal, LED lighting, energy storage, and monitoring for the complete energy integration system in one easy-to-use platform.

Image Credit: solar panels via Shutterstock

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