DC SUN Requests from DDOE on Solar Rebate Program

Below is the text of a request sent today to the Director of the DC Department of the Environment.  Many of those on the Waiting List have signed contracts and made commitments to install solar projects based on assurances from DDOE that the DC Solar Rebate was forthcoming.  Many of those residents have now been informed that they may not receive the promised rebate.  When we receive answers to these questions, we will post them here.

February 7, 2011

Dear Mr Tulou,

We wanted to follow-up on several items from our meeting with you on January 19th.  We would like to provide an update to our members, who are obviously very interested and concerned about the path forward on renewable energy and the solar rebates.  While this note does not include the full list of long-term issues and questions that we have, they get at the most immediate questions that our members are asking.  We would appreciate a response in the next few days.

1. On January 19th, you indicated the DDOE would request that the DC Council approve using the $700K in unspent 2010 funds that have reverted into “fund balance.”  You indicated that the paperwork necessary to make this request was imminent.  Has DDOE or the Mayor’s office completed this request to Council?  If not, can you provide us with your target date for sending this request forward?

2. On January 19th, you indicated that you agreed that the DDOE Green Energy Website needed to be updated.  We requested that the REIP document and the online application be updated to indicate that program changes are in the works.  We are additionally requesting that the Wait List shown on the DDOE website be classified according to which bin each person in the Waiting List is in.  We think that this is as follows: “Priority 1” – DDOE has made a funding commitment and is planning to use 2011 money to fund the project at original levels; “Priority 2” – DDOE has made a funding commitment based on original rebate levels, but restoration of 2010 fund balance is required before grants can be processed; and “Priority 3” – Wait List will be subject to new rebate formula, which will likely be applied beginning on Oct 1, 2011 when fiscal year 2012 monies become available.  Being transparent about where each person stands in regard to the list is very important to our members.  We understand that some of our members have received letters, but we think DDOE’s website should also provide that information.  Will you make these changes to the website, and when?  We also recommend that DDOE put an appendix on the REIP Program Guide explaining what is happening during this period of uncertainty.

3. On January 19th, you indicated that you would be proposing a new formula for those applicants on the waiting list.  We provided you with an initial survey response about various rebate levels (survey is posted on solardc.blogspot.com).  We requested that you provide a proposal with a 30-day comment period, and then move quickly to issue the new rules so that applicants and installers have certainty in regard to the operation of the program until the 2012 funding is expended.  When do you plan to issue the draft formula?  Do you desire any input from us prior to proposing a new formula?

We will follow up with you in the future on many of our longer-term issues and concerns, but would appreciate your answers on these items.

Mike Barrette, Capitol Hill Energy Coop & DC Solar United Neighborhoods (DC SUN)
Anya Schoolman, Mt Pleasant Solar Coop & DC SUN