Commercial solar sales slump in Texas
A change in the incentive structure has led to fewer commercial solar installations in Austin, Texas.
The number of commercial solar installations declined sharply in Austin last year, and industry experts attribute the drop to Austin Energy restructuring its rebate program to make such solar projects less financially attractive to businesses.
Utility officials, however, said the two are unrelated and that a number of factors â€” namely market demand and the recession â€” contributed to the decline.
Austin Energyâ€™s solar program â€” for commercial installations â€” peaked in fiscal 2009 with 37 projects and rebates of $2 million.
Then, in September 2010, the municipally owned utility shifted the incentive program from up-front rebates to performance-based metrics over a 10-year period. During fiscal 2010, the number of installations slumped to 10 and the amount of rebates declined to $556,600, according to Austin Energy.
In fiscal 2011, solar projects numbered eight and rebates totaled $8,939.
Meanwhile, the residential solar incentive program has continued to grow during the last five years from 130 projects and $1.6 million in rebates during fiscal 2007 to 328 projects and rebates of $4.8 million during fiscal 2011, according to Austin Energy.
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