By Marie Gilmore

 

For five years, Tampa Electric has been in a pilot program supported by the Florida Public Service Commission (FPSC) to offer rebates to homeowners who install solar panels systems on residential houses within the Tampa Electric customer base.

More than $4.1 million in solar rebates were claimed by residents and more than 250 systems representing 2,000 kilowatts were installed during the five year pilot.

“I think the program was a great tool to introduce solar to our community,” said TECO Renewable Program Manager Shelly Aubuchon who has been leading the project for five years. “Each time we would open the reservations for rebates, they would be claimed in seconds.”

Residential customers had the opportunity to claim a rebate and complete a short online form to be granted a rebate of up to $20,000, or a 10Kw system. In order to qualify, homeowners who had claimed a rebate would have a TECO energy audit performed. The complimentary inspection is still available for homeowners who are given a report and recommendations for energy savings and free light bulbs after the inspection. After the audit, homeowners had 90 days to have the system installed and documentation mailed to Tampa Electric.

Solar Specialists Owner Dean Greene, is one of the licensed state contractors that meets TECO’s eligibility requirements to install the system. Greene, who owns the company with his son Chris, has been installing whole house solar in southeastern Hillsborough County for more than 30 years. He has been a huge supporter of the rebate program and hopes it will continue.

“I have been installing solar since 1976; my brother had me working for him. I also have two sons with state solar contractors licenses, plus my stepdaughter is getting her Ph.D in renewable energy.  She wants to get her license also, so I guess it is a family tradition.”

The current program does not currently have funds to continue beyond November, but Greene’s company is seeking alternative funding sources so that homeowners can install the systems without significant out of pocket expenses but can spread the expense over several years which can be offset by the decrease in TECO bills.

The availability of solar PV funds for 2015 will be determined by the Florida Public Service Commission (FPSC) in November. If the FPSC approves funding for 2015, Tampa Electric will notify customers on the contact list prior to opening the online reservation form shortly after the FPSC decision has been made.

Residential customers had the opportunity, through the program, to receive up to $2 per watt rebate, up to a maximum of $20,000, when a PV system was installed and interconnected to Tampa Electric’s power grid.

For more information on the program, visit www.tampaelectric.com/com pany/renewableenergy/solarrebates/. To contact Solar Specialist, call 335-2660.