Popular Connecticut Solar Rebate Fund Dries-Up 18 Months Early

  • Published on January 5th, 2009

solar panel

Connecticut’s rebate program for home and business owners who purchase solar systems was so popular that the funds backing it are all used up only six months into the two-year funding period.

Until now, Connecticut’s solar rebate program was one of the better run and most generous in the United States. Since 2005, more than $85 million has been doled out for 815 residential solar projects and 127 business and government projects. Similar problems are popping up elsewhere, too. In Maryland, for instance state officials had to put a freeze on their solar energy grant program and close the waiting list.

One might argue that the size of state-level solar incentives funds pale in comparison to the actual demand for solar installs. So, while the programs are successful strictly in terms of their popularity, they are hindered by the fact that once funding runs out, people stop installing new PV systems.

The “problem” in Connecticut is that the current funding cycle runs from July 1, 2008, through June 30, 2010, but a 300 percent growth in purchases of residential systems for the second half of 2008 used up the entire $8.5 million. Because the commercial program is likely to exhaust its two-year allotment of more than $18 million this spring, state officials have announced that they are no longer accepting applications for the solar rebate program, despite having originally thought they could accept new applications through January 15th.

Industry groups are concerned that unless money is injected into the program, the momentum built up over its four-year life will be lost, putting a pinch on the the dozens of companies and hundreds of jobs it created.

“We don’t want to be in position to put together all this wonderful momentum and then tell them we can’t sustain them: ‘Go away,’” Michael Trahan, executive director of Solar Connecticut told the New York Times “That’s a serious hiccup that will take years to fix.”

But Connecticut’s clean energy fund has not entirely dried up, only the nifty cash-back rebate part of it has. There is still funding available as part of the Connecticut Solar Lease program. Now, I know, leasing is not the same as owning and may not be for everyone. But the no-money-down solar leases can obviously be more economically viable for people who could not otherwise stomach the substantial up-front cost of buying and installing a solar PV system – if there are such people in Connecticut.

Image: © Foto.fritz | Dreamstime.com

About the Author

is the founder of ecopolitology and the executive editor at LiveOAK Media, a media network about the politics of energy and the environment, green business, cleantech, and green living. When not reading, writing, thinking or talking about environmental politics with anyone who will listen, Tim spends his time skiing in Colorado's high country, hiking with his dog, and getting dirty in his vegetable garden.

4 comments

  • See, I wish we could create more demand for renewables and not just focus our attentions and resources on the supply side of the equation. Of course, I'm thinking of a feed-in tariff that would require utilities to buyback any and all energy you put back on the grid with wind, solar, geothermal, etc.

    These kinds of programs spread the economic burden around just like a tax-funded rebate would, but as long as the law is in place (and the long-term purchase agreements that come along with them) the funding mechanism never dries up.

  • At a time when we need to accelerate the adoption of solar energy that trend will be affected by a state's ability to fund such programs.

    With the financial crisis and economic recession reducing tax revenues it will be difficult to fund those initiatives that promote alternative fuel and energy production, yet this is when it needs to happen, before the economy revives and energy prices once again escalate.

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