Which do you prefer to hear first? The good solar water heating incentive news in Maryland … or the bad solar water heating incentive news?
Frankly, the bad news is much less complicated, so let’s tackle that first.
The bad news: Maryland’s state rebate for residential solar water has been gutted reduced from $1,500 to $500, effective for applications received after 5 PM on June 2, 2011.
The good news: Residential solar hot water systems installed after June 1, 2011, will qualify for SREC payments. Nice, eh? Err… Except, many readers may be wondering what the heck an SREC is, and, more importantly, how much is it worth?
First things first: What is it?
- An SREC (sometimes known as a “Green Tag”) stands for Solar Renewable Energy Certificate.
- Similar to carbon credits, Maryland utilities are mandated to produce a certain amount of renewable energy every year.
- If they can’t produce that clean power through their utility-owned wind and solar projects, then they have to pay for someone else’s clean power.
- Thus, an SREC is a certificate that proves to the State that a solar system has generated 1 megawatt-hour (or 1000 kWh) of solar power. Of course, the utility needs a lot of these puppies, not just one or two.
And how much is an SREC worth?
Depends. Right now, there’s a market-based system, so the price can vary from month to month. These days, one SREC in Maryland is worth around $250, according to SRECtrad.com, a great SREC info resource.
Historically, Maryland only allowed the energy produced by solar PV systems to count as an SREC. But now, effective June 1, solar hot water systems also count… with some qualifications.
- Must be a Maryland residential solar hot water system that is NOT used for pool heating or Jacuzzis. Only home water heating.
- System must be installed on or after June 1, 2011. (However, the program doesn’t start until January 1, 2012, so no cash generation until then.).
- The system must be certified OG-300 by the SRCC with collectors that are certified OG-100. (Check our online catalog for qualifying systems.)
- Since solar hot water production is generally measured in BTUs (British Thermal Units)
- The solar production must be measured by a meter that converts BTUs to kilowatt–hours, and
- The meter must meet the required standards of the International Organization of Legal Metrology. (Naturally, our SunReports meters meet all qualifications, the company confirms.)
So, ballpark, how much can a typical residential system earn in SRECS per year with a solar hot water system? Obviously, that’s going to vary by the type of panel, insolation, the yearly weather, location, etc.
However, a typical system with two collectors may produce around 4 SRECS a year, which means around $1,000 in a typical home owner’s pocket.
One more thing: Just in case you have a big house with a large system, the state limits your SREC payments to a maximum of 5 per year, so about $1,250 at current Maryland SREC rates.
So, although the upfront rebate has been substantially reduced, Maryland lawmakers have made up for it by making solar water heating eligible for SRECS. And don’t forget that residents will also qualify for the Federal Government’s 30% tax credit.
Spread the word, Maryland solar installers! SRECS (cash!) is coming to solar hot water.