California May Tinker With Solar Subsidies
What if you finance it and they don't come? Or come late? Forgive the shaky baseball reference, but that's just what is going on with the California Solar Initiative.
The San Francisco Business Times is reporting that 12.8 percent of people who qualified for incentives under the $3.3 billion dollar solar financing program have failed to begin construction within the first twelve months and forfeited their incentive funds in the process. The result is that $9 million which would have gone toward promoting solar energy adoption is stranded in the system.
According to the program regulations as currently constructed the unclaimed wattage is made available to other applicants while the incentive money is not. Because rebate money decreases as the program ages and more wattage has been allocated, those people who wish to reapply after the window to begin construction has closed will not be able to receive as much funding in the second go around.
The article quotes Molly Tirpak Sterkel, California Public Utilities Commission program supervisor, as saying "We are actually looking at the problem to see if it's a problem." Looking at the problem? To see if it's a problem? The fact that $9 million in renewable energy incentives is tied up in bureaucracy is obviously a problem. A loophole that only will expand as time goes on has to be taken seriously.
If the goal of the program is to help more California houses go solar, then structural problems which are essentially paperwork need to be corrected. As time goes on and incentive levels fall, people who got burned because they failed to start construction will become increasingly less likely to want to apply for the program again.