Keeping up with the demand of going solar
Arizona Public Service (APS) and Salt River Project (SRP) recently made cuts to the incentives for going solar. The reason, however, is not to lag on encouraging solar - it's to keep up with the demand for it. "It's a market based approach," said Steven Godfried, spokesperson for APS. "As demand for solar increases, we're reducing the incentives so we can do more solar to more customers. We only have a limited amount of funds available so as more and more customers are requesting incentive funds, we've been reducing it so more solar can go to more customers." Even with incentives dropping it's still a good time to consider going solar. APS incentives are currently $1.45 per watt for grid tied solar collector and 50 cents per kilowatt for a solar water heater or space heater. SRP's incentives are at $1.35 per watt up to 5 kilowatts. On its website SRP predicts that the average cost for a 5 kW system is $27,000. After all the incentives and tax credits available to the consumer would pay about $11,150. "Incentives are in place to help this industry grow," said Patty Garcia-Likens, spokesperson for SRP. "Eventually it'll come to the point where they will be able to offer this to customers without incentives. In the mean time we still offer them. If you look at the incentives you get from SRP and add the tax incentives from the federal government it does help to cut the cost." As this industry continues to grow Godfried suggests thinking about solar now. "I would say each customer needs to look at their own individual situation and see if solar makes sense," Godfried said. "The price of installing solar panels continues to go down. There are more and different ways that a customer can receive solar for their house." APS suggests its customers look on their website for a qualified solar installer and get quotes from two or three different installers before choosing one. Shopping around can save the customer money, just like with any other home improvement project. "I think that for people who want to invest in something that is good for their environment and that in the long run will decrease their electric bills now is a good time," Garcia-Likens said. "For SRP, our goal is to have as many customers do it as possible. I think that a lot of people today who are investing in solar are doing it for more than financial reasons. They're doing it because they think it's the right thing to do and it's good for the environment. We want to help them use electricity in their everyday lives without conditions."