National Grid solar incentives: Rhode Island’s Renewable Energy Growth program

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Rhode Island solar pbi

Rhode Island’s Renewable Energy Growth (RE Growth) Program is a performance-based incentive (PBI) offered through SolarWise Rhode Island that offers financial benefits to National Grid customers who install solar on their home. PBIs pay owners of solar energy systems for the electricity produced by their system. PBIs help system owners recover the costs of installing a solar energy system and earn an attractive return.

Renewable Energy Growth program for residential customers

For residential customers, the RE Growth PBI takes the form of a bill credit and a cash payment, and is based on the number of kilowatt-hours (kWhs) generated in a given month.

The value of the PBI in any given month is the same, as set in the Certificate of Eligibility received by the customer and does not change over the life of the system. The amount paid each month is based on the amount of solar energy produced (measured in kWh), and the customer’s usage. National Grid customers can qualify for a higher PBI tier if they complete additional energy efficiency work at their home and qualify for this “bonus” from SolarWise prior to applying for RE Growth participation.

How to calculate your total RE Growth PBI benefit

To calculate the total PBI benefit each month, simply multiply the PBI tier rate by the solar energy production level (in kWh). (Find out more on how this calculation works). The amount that a customer uses is multiplied by their appropriate kWh rates to determine their bill credit, which is then deducted from this total PBI amount to determine the net cash payment. The customer’s bill credit is applied to the customer bill that month.

RE Growth’s dual benefit

This dual benefit of credit and payment is granted to National Grid customers every month for 15 or 20 years, depending on the term of the tariff. At the end of the tariff period, customers become eligible for net-metering, if applicable, where excess solar energy production (in kWh) is credited on their electricity bill against the total amount consumed each month.

How do the RE Growth PBI calculations work?

[Click to view example electric bill.] Example of a customer bill, along with the calculations showing how the solar energy production PBI reduces the monthly bill and produces a cash payment.

There are three calculations to consider when estimating solar earnings in the RE Growth program:

Total PBI

This is calculated by multiplying the total kWh of solar energy production by the customer’s PBI tier rate.

Bill Credit

This is a slightly more complicated calculation. To keep it simple, it is most of the volume-based (non-fixed) generation and energy supply charges on a customer bill, multiplied by the solar energy production in kWh for that period. It does not include the energy efficiency program charge or the renewable energy distribution charge. A reasonable estimate of this, assuming the rate structure in May 2016, is to multiply the solar energy production kWh by $0.17 to approximate this value.

Cash Payment

The cash payment that comes in the mail each month is simply the difference between the Total PBI and the Bill Credit. This amount is taxable – customers should consult a tax advisor for assistance in better understanding the tax requirements associated with receiving this payment.

What do you need to do to get a bonus PBI through SolarWise?

The SolarWise Rhode Island program grants larger PBIs for customers that perform energy efficiency actions on their home.These can include something as simple as replacing old light bulbs with new, highly efficient LED bulbs or something more elaborate like adding insulation to the attic or replacing a refrigerator.

How to qualify for a larger PBI

To qualify for a larger PBI through SolarWise, customers first get an energy audit. An energy auditor from RISE Engineering will assess the home, recommend energy actions, and estimate the corresponding energy savings (in kWh). The estimated energy savings will determine which PBI tier a customer is eligible for under the SolarWise program. Customers can dig into the specifics on National Grid’s website, or keep reading for a summary.

The more a customer saves through energy efficiency, the higher the amount paid for each kWh of solar energy produced for 15 years! This means customers save money by making their home more efficient, and as a result, they earn more from their solar investment. More information about this process is offered to customers from their home energy auditor. You can also find information about the required steps and application process on the SolarWise website.

RE Growth PBI tiers and incentives

Required Energy Efficiency Actions PBI – Cents / kWh
No requirement, eligible even without an audit 37.65
Tier 1 Energy actions result in electricity kWh savings of at least 15% 39.53
(5% bonus)
Tier 2 Tier 1 + energy actions results in an additional 400 kWh of electricity savings OR all weatherization work is completed 41.42
(10% bonus)

The table describes what a customer needs to achieve in order to be eligible for each tier, and then the corresponding incentive from that tier. For simplicity, this table only focuses on smaller systems that are 1-10 kilowatts (kW) in size, or roughly 4 to 40 solar panels.

Learn more about incentives for systems larger than 10 kW

Go to SolarWise Rhode Island

3 thoughts on “National Grid solar incentives: Rhode Island’s Renewable Energy Growth program

  1. Steve Cornwall

    I have have received 8+ bids for roof panels and have chosen one contractor. They inform me Nat Grid has run out of residential REG funds for this current period and may not start up again until Feb/Mar. Is this true? What is status of program? Where do I go for update and any new credit rates?

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