New Solar Incentives for Imperial Valley Homeowners

Imperial Irrigation District operational headquarters | Photo: watchdoginstitute/Flickr/Creative Commons License

Feed-In Tariffs, in which owners of small renewable facilities such as rooftop solar are paid a fair price for all the energy they feed in to the grid, have been credited for the astounding growth of solar power in Germany and a handful of other countries. And now the largest utility in Imperial County is starting one up.

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The Imperial Irrigation District (IID), which provides electrical power to 145,000 customers in Imperial, Riverside, and San Diego counties, has announced it will be starting up a feed-in tariff program for generators of renewable energy of between 1 kilowatt and 3 megawatts. The program, which will launch by July 2013 for Imperial Valley homeowners, will accept participants until the program reaches its state-suggested cap of approximately 13 megawatts. That's about one percent of IID's overall energy portfolio.

The price paid for power generated under the IID's feed-in tariff program has yet to be set, but the District is already accepting applications for the program. That's bound to be of interest to a number of Imperial County residents. The program's 1 kilowatt minimum project size may keep smaller rooftop solar panels out of the running, but installations on moderate-to-large homes and on businesses will easily qualify. Imperial County's combination of a depressed economy and nearly relentless sunshine may make the program popular indeed, and could well spur even more investment in rooftop solar.

The Imperial Irrigation District is the sixth-largest utility in California, and the third-largest publicly owned utility after the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District.

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