Chelan County PUD customers who produce energy for SNAP are helping grow a new, renewable resource to complement our already abundant hydropower. Interested in generating solar, wind or other renewable energy at your home, business or agency for PUD customers? Read the Frequently Asked Questions below, then visit the "SNAP Producer Connection Forms and Applications" link in the Quick Links box at right.
What are the guidelines for becoming a SNAP producer?
Participation in the Sustainable Natural Alternative Power (SNAP) program is available to Chelan County PUD customers with systems generating 25 kilowatts or less. Most SNAP producers are generating solar power, but these renewable options also are eligible for the program: wind, geothermal energy, landfill gas, wave or tidal action, gas produced by the treatment of wastewater, qualified hydropower, or biomass energy based on solid organic fuels from wood, forest or field residues or dedicated energy crops.
How are SNAP producers paid?
Producers are paid once a year for the power they generate from a pool of funds created by customer contributions. The amount paid by Chelan County PUD to individual SNAP producers depends on the total contributed to the program by PUD customers and the total generated by all SNAP producers. The greater the amount contributed by SNAP supporters, the greater the amount that will be distributed among SNAP producers.
For example, if a SNAP producer generates 1 percent of the total SNAP power produced, and SNAP purchasers contributed $30,000 to the SNAP fund, then the SNAP producer would receive an annual SNAP payment of $300 ($30,000 times 1 percent). (These payments are only estimates. Chelan County PUD cannot guarantee the amount of revenue producers will receive from installing a SNAP generator.)
SNAP producers also receive from the PUD 75 percent of the Dow Jones Mid-Columbia off-peak wholesale power rate for the power they produce. (Installations that are net metered do not receive this.)
Producers are paid once a year, on or before April 22, which is Earth Day. The following is a breakdown of annual payments since the program's inception:
|Period||SNAP Income||Production (kWh)||Annual Payment|
Is there another source of payment for SNAP producers?
Solar and wind power producers in Chelan County qualify for the state's renewable energy production incentive program. The state incentive program allows the PUD to pay each solar and wind power producer in the county up to $5,000 per year. The amount of the production incentive depends on the amount of solar and wind energy produced, and whether the equipment that produced the energy was manufactured in Washington state, as follows:
Community solar projects also are able to receive the production incentive. Community solar projects are defined as solar energy systems up to 75 kilowatts (kW) that are owned by local entities and placed on local government property or owned by utilities and funded voluntarily by utility ratepayers. State legislation excludes utility-owned projects from receiving the production incentive if the utility has annual sales greater than 1,000 megawatt-hours (MWh). In June 2009, the Department of Revenue clarified this exclusion, stating that utility-owned community solar projects that are voluntarily funded by ratepayers are eligible for this production incentive. This ruling was formalized with the passage of SB 6658 in March 2010. This legislation also allows projects on local government property that are owned by limited liability companies, cooperatives, or mutual corporations or associations to receive the incentive. The company itself is not eligible, but owners may take advantage of the incentive. Payments to community solar projects are available as follows:
Links to Department of Revenue forms:
Renewable energy system certification form
Renewable energy system certification form - community solar
Annual incentive payment application
Annual incentive payment application - community solar
What about tax credits?
Consumers who install solar energy systems (including solar water heating and solar electric systems), small wind systems, geothermal heat pumps, and residential fuel cell and microturbine systems can receive a 30 percent tax credit for systems placed in service before December 31, 2016. Updated information is available on the Energy Star Web site.
How much does it cost to set up a system?
Consultant Randy Brooks, owner of Brooks Solar in Chelan, says $10 to $12 per watt installed is a good estimate for a grid-tied system without batteries. With batteries for storing power, costs go up by about 30 percent. Brooks generally recommends that grid-tied customers set up a system that will earn about as much in incentives annually as they pay for electricity. That is usually a 1.5 kW (about $15,000) system. The smallest system recommended is 700 watts (about $7,000) because that is the smallest grid-tie inverter available.
Is there a way to estimate my return on investment?
The annual production incentive can be estimated by multiplying the system rating times the number of full sun hours of the area where the solar system will be installed. Eastern Washington receives about 1,200 full sun hours per year. Annual income for a 1,000 watt (1 kilowatt) system using Washington-made solar modules would therefore range from:
Estimated Annual Income with Washington-made inverter, but not Washington solar modules:
1 kW x 1200 hours/Year x State Incentive, $0.18/kWh = $216/Year
Approx. Simple Payback = ($7,000 - $2,000 tax credit) / $216/Year = 23 years
Estimated Annual Income with Washington-made solar modules & inverter:
1 kW x 1200 hours/Year x State Incentive, $0.54/kWh = $648/Year
Approx. Simple Payback = ($7,000 - $2,000 tax credit) / $648/Year = 8 years
Washington's production incentive is authorized through June 30, 2020.
How can I purchase solar or wind equipment?
Producers purchase equipment directly from retailers or via the Internet. Area contacts for more information are:
What equipment and installation standards must be met?
The maximum SNAP project that may be interconnected with the distribution system is 25 kilowatts. See the Interconnection Standards for Customer-Owned Generating Facilities 25 kW or Less for details.
What other costs are there?
An application/connection fee of $100 is charged at the time of application. The monthly meter-reading fee is $3.85. In most cases, the meter fee is deducted from the annual payment mailed to SNAP producers. Customers are responsible for the cost of connecting their SNAP generator to Chelan County PUD’s distribution system. Line extension fees, if any, will vary depending on the distance to the nearest PUD facilities.
SNAP producers must obtain an electrical permit from the City of Wenatchee (if within city limits) or the state Department of Labor and Industries. The city or county building and planning departments may also require a building permit. Call the appropriate jurisdiction to discuss your project.
What if I just want to put up a solar or wind power system for my own use?
A net metering program is available to PUD customers who have an electric generator that has a nameplate capacity of not more than 100 kilowatts. Customers must sign a Power Purchase and Interconnection Agreement with the PUD allowing them to interconnect to and operate in parallel with the PUD electric distribution system. The PUD’s charges for electric energy are adjusted for customers who participate in the net metering program.