As part of a series of solar energy initiatives it signed off on, the board of directors for Florida-based public power utility JEA on Oct. 17 approved a battery storage incentive plan under which residential customers will be able to receive a one-time 30 percent rebate on the purchase and installation of a household battery system, up to a maximum of $2,000 per household. The battery rebate program is capped at $1 million per year.
“Incentivizing storage captures the original intent of net metering, which was to encourage solar adoption at a time when solar costs were prohibitive,” a package presented to the JEA board said. “With costs for solar now much lower, it is appropriate to repeat the success of net metering by now incentivizing storage to help move storage toward the mainstream and to lower the overall cost of storage technology.”
In a news release, JEA noted that the battery incentive program will increase the ability of customers to ride through storm events and other short-term outages, maximize the benefit of the system by offsetting retail consumption, lower demand on the system through peak periods and reduce JEA program costs because the rebate is one-time per customer.
The storage incentive program is part of a new distributed generation policy that the JEA board approved.
JEA’s current net metering policy caps the total level of residential solar generation at 10 MW. Under the new policy, which is effective April 1, 2018, existing net metering customers will be grandfathered into the current policy for 20 years and there will be no limit on the amount of megawatts installed.
Also, excess energy produced by the customer's system will be sold back to JEA at the fuel rate, which is currently 3.25 cents.
JEA board approves solar option for large commercial customers
JEA’s board also signed off on an initiative under which it will offer a solar option to large commercial customers that have aggressive renewable objectives.
The public power utility noted that many large multi-national corporations have a desire and/or mandate to be “green” and the new “SolarMax” rate allows those organizations to meet some of their solar objectives. The new rate is a supplement to an existing tariff (SolarSmart) and commercial customers can opt for up to 100 percent of their required energy through the rate.
SolarMax replaces the fuel charge with a solar price. The pricing is a pass-through of the purchase power agreement price plus administrative costs. The commercial customer selects either a 5- or 10-year contract term, which can be renewed.
The benefits are that it allows companies to purchase large amounts of power, reduces demand on the grid and contributes to economic development, JEA noted.
Board clears way for addition of utility-scale solar
Meanwhile, the JEA board also approved JEA's request to purchase additional tracts of land to provide another 200 MW of utility scale solar (four 50-MW solar plants).
JEA will lease the properties to solar companies and buy the solar power from them through PPAs.
JEA renewable energy efforts
The recent action by JEA and its board marks the latest steps by the public power utility to spur the development of renewable energy in the state.
In addition to installing solar panels on more than 25 public locations, JEA developed a 12-MW solar farm and launched a net metering program to provide incentives for residents to install solar panels on their homes.
JEA has also added 10 MW of solar this year (two PPAs) and has another five solar PPA facilities (17 MW) under construction.
In June 2017, JEA launched JEA SolarSmart for customers.