The Turlock Irrigation District spent $6.9 million on public benefit programs in 2012, 51 percent of that supporting renewable energy programs.
Since the solar rebate program's inception, $3.4 million in rebates was given to 162 residential systems, adding 1,209 kilowatts of electricity to the TID grid. A further 115 residential systems are pending, comprising 601 kW, in a Ceres apartment complex. Turlock's new low-income housing development, Avena Bella, is expected to apply for solar rebates soon.
A $1.48 per watt rebate still exists for residential solar projects. That's down from the initial rebate value, but the overall cost to install solar remains roughly the same.
“The cost of solar has gone down as the rebates have gone down,” said Nancy Folly, TID customer service department manager.
Less support remains for commercial developments, as TID has already handed out $10.1 million in tiered rebates, supporting 7,372 kW spread across 58 projects. A further $2.4 million in rebates are pending, for a further 4,575 kW in 29 projects.
TID purchased excess power from 22 solar customers who generated more electricity than they used last year, at a cost to the district of $5,559.90.
About $2.7 million – 39 percent of the total TID spent on public benefit programs – went to the TID Cares program. The program offers discounts on monthly electricity bills for low-income households.
And the public benefit program also funded energy efficiency efforts, to the tune of approximately $690,000.
TID offers rebates for purchase of compact florescent light bulbs and energy-efficient refrigerators. The district will also pay residents $35 to recycle an old-refrigerator, providing free pickup.
And trees are available for $20, providing shade and reducing the electricity needed to cool homes. The district sold 168 trees, with compost and fertilizer included, at a shade tree event earlier this year, and now offers tree vouchers at TID offices for others interested in planting shade trees.
TID also offers energy-efficiency audits for businesses large and small.
On Tuesday, the Turlock Irrigation District Board of Directors also:
• Approved reinstating a position, “Director of Energy Markets,” earning between $107,448 and $177,276 annually.
The employee will be tasked with supervising analysis of long-term electric resource utilization, electric load forecasts, energy services, and business expansion. The employee will also direct all trading, scheduling, and dispatching of District power assets.
• Continued the process to form a new improvement district, to be known as the Lucerne Joint Pipeline, located off TID upper lateral No. 2 1/2 near the intersection of Grayson and Waring Roads. The district would replace an open dirt ditch with a 36-inch pipeline, serving 451.01 acres comprising 23 different growers.
• Approved an update to the TID Solar Electric Rebate Program Handbook. Minor alterations were made to match current California Energy Commission standards.
• Heard regular weekly updates on electrical service, power generation, irrigation water availability, and the status of the irrigation season.
• Heard a monthly report on activities of the Financial Services Administration, and accepted a report on the district's investment portfolio.
• Canceled the TID board meeting scheduled for May 7.
• Conferenced with legal counsel in closed session regarding two instances of anticipated litigation.