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Friday, March 6, 2009

We Energies unveils new solar incentive program

From an article by Tom Content in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Incentives to add solar panels on homes and small businesses are higher than they've ever been.

That stems both from a tax credit that Congress authorized last year as well as incentives from Focus on Energy and We Energies.

That doesn't make solar power cheap, but it's shortening the payback times for folks who are thinking about adding solar panels, said Michael Vickerman, executive director of Renew Wisconsin, a nonprofit group seeking to boost use of solar and wind power across the state.

We Energies of Milwaukee on Wednesday unveiled a new solar electric incentive after the old program basically sold out.

For more than two years, the utility's incentive permitted customers to sell all of the renewable power generated by their home or business back to the utility at a high electricity price of 22.5 cents a kilowatt-hour. That's nearly twice the amount We Energies charges to homeowners for electricity.

The new program amounts to an upfront payment to customers who install solar electric systems, said Carl Siegrist, senior renewable energy strategist at We Energies.

"It's great news," said Niels Wolter, who runs solar electric programs with the state Focus on Energy Initiative. "Probably the biggest thing is it helps people overcome that first cost, which is a big barrier, rather than paying people more over 10 years for the power."

Instead of paying money each month to customers who install solar panels, the new incentive is upfront and based on the amount of power a home's panels would generate during the first year.

The exact amount of the incentive is 75 cents per kilowatt-hour for all the kilowatt-hours generated by a solar system in a year.

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