In March, the California Energy Commission (CEC) suspended its Emerging Renewables Program to address deficiencies in the program’s requirements and review guidelines in response to a complaint about DyoCore’s SolAir wind turbine. Now the commission, after approving new guidelines [PDF], has begun accepting new applications for the program.
The previous version of the guidebook allowed small wind turbines to qualify for the program by submitting 12 months of performance data. The relaunched program will increase accountability by requiring small wind turbines to be certified by a third party. This stipulation is intended to prevent companies from using faulty data to qualify for the program. For the first 120 days after the guidebook is approved, the new program will offer $3 per watt for small wind turbines and fuel cells using renewable fuels. After 120 days, the rebate level will be reduced to $2.50 per watt for the first 10 kilowatts of a small wind system’s generating capacity. Another major change to the guidebook is that rebates cannot exceed 50 percent of the net purchase price of the system.
The DyoCore fiasco was resolved when DyoCore admitted that the information it provided for the SolAir turbine was inaccurate, and the CEC agreed to dismiss the complaint. The SolAir turbine has been removed from the CEC’s list of eligible wind turbines, and the 455 applicants that have already installed the DyoCore turbine will have to re-apply. If applicants fail to re-apply, they will lose their place in the queue and will not be eligible for rebates. The commission ruled that it would not refer the matter to the state attorney general.
According to Commissioner Carla Peterman, the comprehensive review of the renewables program was “necessary to protect consumers and ensure efficient use of ratepayer dollars.”