Moms

Oncor Electric Delivery to offer more solar energy rebates this month

Oncor Electric Delivery reopens its solar rebate program June 21, and consumers interested in getting some money back on a solar installation better act fast.

Just $1.5 million remains of the original $16 million, multiyear rebate budget, and all of it is available once the program reopens, Oncor spokeswoman Jeamy Molina said.

Consumers swamped Oncor when it opened the program in January. When money budgeted for 2010 ran out, Oncor pumped in another two years' worth, and now it expects heavy demand for that.

"Take advantage of it as quickly as you can," Molina said Friday.

Oncor has made a couple of changes to try to spread the wealth.

It is limiting any one vendor to 20 percent of the budget, down from 50 percent.

That's "so one service provider could not have an advantage over any other service provider," Molina said. "Our goal with this program was to have the widest reach."

Oncor also dropped the rebate rate to $2.25 per watt of installed power, down from $2.46. Oncor is offering rebates of up to $22,500 for a residential project and $175,000 for nonresidential projects.

The program is available to anyone in Oncor's service area. Consumers can visit Oncor's www.takealoadofftexas.com for information, or call 866-728-3674.

The 20 percent rule, which Molina said applies to projects not yet under contract, has led to uncertainty for a major solar installation program that TXU Energy and SolarCity, a California company, co-sponsor.

Oncor's rebates are a key component of the TXU-SolarCity program.

Under that program, homeowners can lease solar panels, with savings on electric bills expected to exceed monthly lease payments, TXU and SolarCity say.

That way, homeowners don't have to buy their own expensive panels.

For a 4-kilowatt, $26,000 system, the estimated rebate is about $9,000, reducing the homeowner's cash price to $17,000, said Jonathan Bass, spokesman for SolarCity.

The rebate "has a similar impact for the lease program as well," he said. "It's a significant difference." Homeowners who buy their own systems receive the rebate. Under SolarCity's program, it gets the rebate.

Oncor's 20 percent rule "may limit the number of customers we can serve," he said. "We're not certain what the impact is going to be yet."

Bass said SolarCity expects to learn soon how much of the rebate pie it gets.

"We're working with Oncor trying to install as many as possible," he said.

The TXU-SolarCity program is already full for this year. Consumers can sign up for a waiting list for future programs at www.txu.com/solarcity_main.htm or by calling 877-TXU-SOLAR.

Other companies are also in on the rebate action.

Jim Duncan, owner of North Texas Renewable Energy in Wise County, said he has three solar installations under contract, including two in Oncor's service area. One of his clients received Oncor's higher rebate rate, the second the lower.

He said he expects to install an Arlington system by mid-July, and one in Dallas after that.

"Everything's taken care of," he said. "I just ordered three pallet-loads of solar panels."

SCOTT NISHIMURA, 817-390-7808

  Comments