Customers of Consumers Energy in Michigan will soon be getting paid to produce solar power. The utility is now accepting applications for the next phase of its Experimental Advanced Renewable Program (EARP). The next round of the production-based incentive program will incorporate additional 3 megawatts (MW) – 1.5 megawatts (MW) of customer-owned residential and 1.5 MW of customer-owned commercial solar photovoltaic (PV) systems into Consumer Energy’s generation portfolio.
The pilot EARP program, completed in June, provided for the long-term purchase of solar energy generated by 102 projects totaling 2 MW, including 85 residential systems. Customers participating in this round will sign a 15-year contract to sell their solar energy production at a rate of $.200-$.259 per kilowatt-hour (kWh). The first 125 kilowatts of residential capacity will receive $.259 per kWh and commercial customers will receive $.229 per kWh.
In order to be eligible, program participants must install solar equipment manufactured in the state of Michigan, or constructed by a Michigan workforce. Systems must be grid-tied, and can not include battery back-up or any other type of energy storage capability. Program participants are also not eligible for net metering. The application deadline is Jan. 12, 2012.
Michigan’s renewable portfolio standard requires Consumers Energy to add 200 MW of new renewable generation by 2013, and 500 MW by 2015. Michigan utilities receive “extra credit” for customer-sited solar PV systems under this order.