By Tom Content
Incentives that help homeowners install solar electric and solar hot water systems in Wisconsin are being suspended for the second time in three years. A recent decision by the state Public Service Commission means the state Focus on Energy program will stop awarding the solar incentives from mid-August through the end of the year.
Focus is an initiative that's overseen by the state PSC as well as the state's utilities. Focus on Energy was created to to help utility customers receive incentives to make homes and businesses more energy-efficient and install renewable energy systems.
"We understand that there will likely be some frustration due to any changes," Focus on Energy said in announcing the suspension. "However, the Commission's direction will help us create a clear plan for 2014. We anticipate the residential prescriptive incentives for Solar Thermal and Solar Photovoltaic to resume in January 2014."
Focus has been providing incentives of up to $1,200 for solar hot water systems and $2,400 for solar power systems.
After Aug. 13, when the PSC is expected to finalize a recent decision on the matter, Focus will no longer provide the incentives this year, said Tamara Sondgeroth, director of operations at Focus on Energy in Madison.
The stop-start approach to funding renewables is bad for small businesses that were hurt when renewable incentives were suspended two years ago, said leaders at Renew Wisconsin, a renewable energy advocacy group.