Customer-Sited PV: A Survey of Clean Energy Fund Support
Generating electricity from the sun's rays without motion, sound, or exhaust, photovoltaic (PV) systems are perhaps the quintessential renewable energy technology. PV's widespread popularity, along with its high up-front cost and resulting need for support, have made it a prime target of state clean energy funds – virtually all funds currently in operation provide some form of support for customer-sited PV. There is less agreement among funds, however, about the most effective means of providing such support. Many funds have implemented what are commonly known as "buy-down" programs, where funds are distributed as grants to subsidize or "buy down" the initial cost of the system. Other funds have taken different approaches, soliciting proposals for specific projects, offering pre-development grants, developing infrastructure and distribution channels, or investing seed capital in budding PV manufacturers. At least one fund has considered (but not implemented) a leasing program. This report surveys the different experiences of funds trying to support customer-sited PV. The first section describes experience with buy-down programs, while the second section examines alternatives to, or variations on, buy-downs. This report also proposes further joint activity through the Clean Energy Funds Network (CEFN) to improve upon existing and future PV programs.