Utilities now offering rebate for smart inverters
As a follow-up to the May 14th, 2018 “What to Know About the Smart Inverter Rebate” blog post, the Smart Inverter Rebate, or also commonly known as the “DG Rebate” was officially approved by the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) this past November and is being offered by both ComEd and Ameren utilities. This rebate is intended to enable solar inverters to increase grid benefits and capacity for distributed energy resources.
The rebate value is set at $250/kW DC, available to non-residential and community solar facilities that have a nameplate rating of no greater than 2 MWs and is subject to a utility’s terms and conditions. These terms and conditions were under review at the ICC, where solar stakeholders, including the Illinois Solar Energy Association (ISEA), successfully advocated for requirements that would make the program work for the solar industry and solar consumers.
Both ComEd and Ameren have posted their terms and conditions for the DG Rebate which can be found here for ComEd and here for Ameren. In summary, they are the following:
- A DG or community solar facility must be installed after June 1, 2017 with a smart inverter.
- The rebate may only apply to the site host or owner of the solar facility, where offtakers of a community solar project are not eligible to receive all or a portion of DG Rebate if the site host or system owner already applied for or claimed the rebate.
- A customer must enroll under a net metering tariff that only provides net metering credits for the generation portion of a customer’s utility bill.
- Install an approved smart inverter that provides grid support capabilities (i.e. anti-islanding, voltage-reactive [volt/var], ramp rates, voltage ride through, frequency ride through) at specified default settings. Eligible smarter inverters for the rebate can be found here.
- The smart inverter must have a communication system that can accept external commands from the utility.
While these requirements listed are mandatory for participation, the ICC has also ordered clarifications and several safeguards around the rebate’s smart inverter operating modes and settings, which enables development certainty for the industry. A utility is also not allowed to perform the following without consent:
- Require a customer to change or add new smart inverter functions and settings.
- Have sole discretion over actively controlling a customer’s smart inverter.
- Impose prospective and unknown costs on maintaining communications of a smart inverter.
The ICC has also approved tariff revisions that allow solar plus storage facilities to be eligible for the DG Rebate (so long as the energy storage system is only charged by a renewable generation device such as PV panels).
The DG Rebate is currently set as an interim incentive and will stay in place until the 5% net metering cap is reached by each utility. The DG Rebate will be triggered to be re-evaluated once 3% of net metering capacity has been reached in each utility territory. At 3%, the ICC will open a proceeding that will determine what new terms and conditions are required along with what the new DG Rebate value should be.
Residential customers will be eligible for the prospective DG Rebate that is set once we hit the 5% net metering cap. Until the 3% DG Rebate proceeding begins at the ICC as set by the Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA) Section 16.107.6(e), the interim DG Rebate will be in effect and changes are unlikely. Any changes to the current tariff would need to go to the ICC for approval. ISEA will update its members if any new changes occur or what the next steps are when a new DG Rebate is under review.