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LPEA revises policy for renewable generation

La Plata Electric Association (LPEA) has revised its renewable generation policy to provide a more consistent and equitable rebate amount to member-customers, and ensure sustainable incentives for installation of local solar PV, wind and micro-hydro electricity generating systems at both residences and small commercial operations.

LPEA’s revised policy is designed to support and encourage the use of renewable generation by offering customers payments for Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) as environmental attributes on approved installations. Renewable generators, with installations tied to the grid (net metered) and inspected by LPEA, will receive a one-time payment from LPEA and in return, assign the environmental attributes or RECs to LPEA for 10 years. Such RECs will assist LPEA and Tri-State Generation and Transmission, LPEA’s power supplier, in meeting requirements for renewable energy.

“We used to offer pure rebates of $2 per watt, with a $3,000 cap, utilizing the portion of funds contributed by customers purchasing Green Power designated for local projects,” said Mark Schwantes, manager of corporate services. “Now, with our recent proposed change in Green Power – down to $0.10 per 100 kWh block, all those funds will go to purchase renewable energy through Tri-State. None will go to local rebates. Instead, funds will flow through LPEA from Tri-State and directly to those who install renewable generation for purchase of the RECs.”

According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Green Power Network, RECs represent the environmental attributes of the power produced from renewable energy projects and are sold separate from commodity electricity. RECs in essence are designed to incentivize renewable energy by providing a production subsidy for electricity generated from renewable sources. Energy associated with a REC is sold separately and is used by another party, in this instance, Tri-State and its customers. Tri-State will hold only a certificate or “credit” indicating proof of renewable generation purchase.

Schwantes noted that the specific dollar amount distributed to customers installing renewable generation will depend on the size of the system, so the REC payment will vary from customer to customer. LPEA has set the maximum allowable system wattage at 10 kW. Schwantes expects the one-time payments in 2010 to range from $1,000 to $7,000.

“This will lead to a more equitable distribution of funds, and allows us to support those installing larger systems,” said Schwantes, noting that 100 systems are expected to be installed in 2010.

As of this writing, LPEA has 180 net metered, renewable generation accounts. Net metering essentially allows a customer’s meter to “spin backwards” when the renewable generation system produces more electricity than used at a given point of time.

To review LPEA’s new renewable generation policy in full, visit and click on Company Info — Policies and Regulations — Policy 359.