Everyone knows that households that install renewable energy devices like solar panels can save money in the long term and reduce their environmental impact. However, there are now initiatives in place that allow individuals and families to contribute to sustainable energy production one a whole new level, and make money in the process.
One of such programs is based in Michigan, where Consumers Energy Company (CE) – which provides natural gas and electricity to 6.8 million Michigan residents – has announced an expansion of its Experimental Advanced Renewable Program (EARP).
EARP allows customers to sell the output of photovoltaic systems to CE for a fixed price for the duration of the contract, which is 15 years. This is not the first time CE has expanded the initiative since it completed the first 102 project contracted to provide approximately 2,000 kW in January 2011. In fact, the call for residential applications for Phase 7 is now open through July 5. To date, CE has contracted 140 customer-owned solar generators to purchase renewable energy. Beginning on June 30, 2012 the programs capacity limitation for residential customers was raised from 1,500 kW to 1,625 kW.
Who Qualifies and Under What Conditions?
In conjunction with opening the application process for each phase, the company holds public meetings with interested residents, including one that took place earlier this month in Traverse City. During these session representatives explain conditions that candidates need to fulfill to be considered for the project.
These include being a CE customer account holder in good standing and the willingness to have a separate meter in addition to the existing meters at the service location. Candidates must also own or lease the solar generating system that is eligible for the Michigan Incentive Renewable Energy Credits for Michigan Workforce Labor or Michigan Materials.
Among the limitations for the EARP systems, the company lists the following:
• A system smaller than 1 kW DC or larger than 20 kW DC for residential customers;
• A battery backup system or other energy storage system;
• A system that generates more kilowatt-hours annually than is consumed each year, if combined with any other existing generation onsite.
The expanded EARP initiative is part of the Amended Renewable Energy Plan designed by CE in accordance with Public Act 295 of 2008. Contracts will be awarded to qualifying residential customers based on a lottery system over a three-year period beginning in the first quarter. There are separate
For the time being, the EARP is limited to renewable energy systems that generate electricity with solar photovoltaic technology, and does not accept applications from residents who have wind turbines.