“A year of cloudy economic news proved to have at least one bright spot: the rapid growth of Puget Sound Energy customers connecting their home or small business solar systems to the utility grid.
In 2009, nearly 200 PSE customers installed solar systems, making it the fastest-growing year ever for local renewable energy from the sun. The growth raises the total number of grid-connected solar systems to 516 up from only 100 solar power systems that were online with PSE in early 2007.
Thurston County residents installed 50 solar generator units this year, with another 16 put in by PSE customers in Pierce County.
‘Solar works in Washington and our customers are proving that each time a new array goes online,’ said Cal Shirley, vice president of energy efficiency Services for PSE. He also credits elected officials’ leadership in boosting the federal and state incentives for solar power.
In October 2008, Congress removed a previous cap of $2,000 on federal tax credits for home solar installations, with homeowners now eligible to receive a full 30-percent credit for their investment.
A second key incentive is the state’s production payment program which pays residential customers for the solar power they produce. Cash payments distributed by PSE reached $170,000 this year, a substantial gain from the $86,000 distributed in 2008, when PSE customers had approximately 325 home and small business solar systems,” quoting the Pierce County Business Examiner.