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