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Oregon’s Solar Pilot Program:
Snapshot of October 2011 Capacity Allocation

On Oct. 3, the investor-owned utilities began accepting applications for installations under the solar pilot program with several changes from previous capacity allocations.  The PUC reduced the volumetric incentive rate by 20% from the April 2011 allotment (down to 37.4¢/kWh) and applicants were awarded capacity through a lottery process, rather than first-come, first-served.  Additionally, applicants who received allocations of capacity through the lottery were required to pay a $500 non-refundable deposit.

The result of these changes was a dramatic decrease in demand for the program.  Whereas earlier allocations of capacity were snapped up in minutes, this time capacity was left on the table.

A week after the allocation date, PGE reported that in the <10kW category about 70% of the available capacity had been awarded, but that many successful applicants replied that they were instead opting for the RETC/ETO incentive package.  PGE estimated that, while it was still receiving applications, it expected that only about 45% of the available capacity would ultimately be utilized.

Pacific Power reported that about 80% of its <10kW capacity had been awarded and that it was still receiving applications.  Not all of the successful applicants had paid their $500 deposit and Pacific Power was still in the process of vetting applications.  It reported that average system size had increased to about 8 kW, and that many schools, farms and small businesses had applied for <10 kW systems.

In the 10-100 kW category bids were submitted this time, rather than applications for a guaranteed pricing structure.  PGE's capacity was fully subscribed.  It received bids for 200% of its available capacity.  Bids ranged from about 21¢ to 31¢ per kWh.  Pacific Power received twenty bids; five were awarded capacity.  Their bids ranged from 20¢ per kWh to 33¢ per kWh.  Pacific Power reported more bids from southern Oregon for this allocation.

Mark Pengilly, OREP


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