JEA has rolled out a new incentive package to encourage residential adoption of battery storage for rooftop solar panels or other renewable energy systems.
Jacksonville’s public utility is offering a rebate of up to $4,000 per home or business on the purchase of a battery storage system. Utility spokeswoman Gerri Boyce said JEA will reevaluate the program after the first 50 rebates are awarded before deciding how to proceed.
Customers may also be eligible for a 30 percent federal tax credit.
Pete Wilking, president of A1A Solar, says the cost of even a small battery system is pretty high.
“It’s hard to do a battery system with any level of quality componentry, setup and installation for less than $15,000,” Wilking said, explaining that price is before any federal or JEA incentives are figured in.
The fine print on JEA’s rebate form says the “Rebates are available for purchases as of April 1, 2018, and while funds last.”
JEA explains why renewable energy customers might want to add a battery system this way:
Currently, JEA customers with rooftop solar panels must rely on JEA’s electric grid to provide energy when their solar panels don’t produce enough power to meet the home or business’s energy needs. When the solar panels generate more energy than is needed, the excess is sent to JEA.
When excess energy flows from the customer’s PV system back to the JEA grid, JEA values that energy at the fuel rate. With the addition of a battery, customers can store the excess energy generated by their solar PV system and draw on it as needed, maintaining the full retail value of that energy. When a solar PV [photovoltaic] system runs short, customers can draw on their battery’s stored energy, reducing their need to receive electricity from the JEA grid.
The battery incentive program is being launched as net-metering rates are being rolled back.
Net metering is the process JEA uses to buy back excess power from customers who are making their own power via rooftop solar. Wind power is another example of renewable energy that may qualify for net metering.
JEA has lowered the net-metering reimbursement rate from 10 cents a kilowatt hour to JEA’s fuel rate, which is currently roughly equal to approximately 3 cents per kilowatt hour, according to Boyce.
Customers who installed their solar systems before April 1 were “grandfathered in” at the approximately 10 cents per kilowatt rate.
Wilking, who runs the solar panel installation company, gives JEA a grade of C+ for its changes. While he said the battery incentive program is a positive step, the net metering reduction makes predictable returns for customers more difficult.
“That changes the way we size and calculate the economics for a solar array in JEA territory,” he said.