IMPERIAL – Feed-In Tariffs, in which owners of small renewable facilities such as rooftop solar are paid a fair price for all the energy they feed in to the grid, have been credited for the astounding growth of solar power in Germany and a handful of other countries. And now the largest utility in Imperial County is starting one up.
The Imperial Irrigation District (IID), which provides electrical power to 145,000 customers in Imperial, Riverside, and San Diego counties, has announced it will be starting up a feed-in tariff program for generators of renewable energy of between 1 kilowatt and 3 megawatts. The program, which will launch by July 2013 for Imperial Valley homeowners, will accept participants until the program reaches its state-suggested cap of approximately 13 megawatts. That’s about one percent of IID’s overall energy portfolio.
The price paid for power generated under the IID’s feed-in tariff program has yet to be set, but the District is already accepting applications for the program. That’s bound to be of interest to a number of Imperial County residents. The program’s 1 kilowatt minimum project size may keep smaller rooftop solar panels out of the running, but installations on moderate-to-large homes and on businesses will easily qualify. Imperial County’s combination of a depressed economy and nearly relentless sunshine may make the program popular indeed, and could well spur even more investment in rooftop solar.
The Imperial Irrigation District is the sixth-largest utility in California, and the third-largest publicly owned utility after the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District.