Connecticut has the third highest energy costs in the country, coming in just behind Hawaii and New York. Last week, the state’s Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority announced that it will encourage energy savings through solar with a $10 million subsidy program.
On the agenda in the immediate future is to install 5.6 megawatts of residential solar panels; the subsidy will cover about one-third of the total cost of a solar panel installation. Already Connecticut ratepayers have subsidized solar for over 200 homes, spending about $2.5 million.
The ultimate goal, however, is to produce up to 30 megawatts of solar power through home systems over the next decade. Experts believe this will cost around $90 million in total. The activity to this point in the state had already led at least one solar company to relocate within the state. Clean Energy spokesman David Goldberg said, “The whole game is to leverage as much as possible.”
The average residential solar electric system in Connecticut costs about $35,000 with an average of 25 to 30 percent covered through the state’s clean energy fund. Add in Federal tax credits for residential solar and the cost drops by 50 percent.
While many homeowners would like to be entirely reliant on solar for their electricity needs, most can only cover about 70 percent of their usage with solar. Businessweek reported that the average payback for a residential system in the state is about 10 years.
Connecticut’s clean energy fund follows a path outlined by many states with high electricity costs. It becomes one of 13 states, including Maine and Massachusetts among others, that now offers large solar subsidies and encourages a high number of solar panel installations. Aside from those 13 states, Washington DC and Puerto Rico also offer solar subsidies.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy enacted Connecticut’s clean energy legislation in 2011 in response to complaints that energy deregulation in the ’90′s didn’t provide as much relief for ratepayers as the state would’ve liked.