Residents interested in getting financial help to buy a solar hot water heater should do so now, while the V.I. Energy Office still has money left in its Sun Power loan/rebate program.
“There’s no money upfront. That’s how you get in the door,” Energy Office spokesman Don Buchanan said.
The no-money-down loans of up to $3,500 are financed through the Economic Development Authority at a 1 percent fixed interest rate over five years and are repaid through borrowers’ V.I. Water and Power Authority bills. Rebates of up to $2,500 are available in conjunction with the loan program.
The program has helped 626 residents across the territory, Buchanan said.
While he didn’t have a figure for the money left in the program, he said there’s enough to fund about 100 applications on St. Croix and another 100 on St. Thomas/St. John.
There is currently no program that gives rebates alone for solar hot water heaters, Buchanan said. Residents must buy them under the Sun Power loan/rebate program.
While the current funding is running out, Buchanan said the Energy Office hopes to replenish the fund.
The Energy Office has other programs to help residents. Buchanan said that a program to help residents replace their appliances with those that are energy efficient helps them purchase refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, air-conditioners, and heat pumps.
That program pays 30 percent of the purchase price with a maximum rebate of $599.
Purchasers must verify that they’ve gotten rid of the old appliance. Buchanan said that on St. Croix, the Energy Office picks them up, but St. Thomas residents must take them to the landfill and St. John residents to the transfer station. If there is a charge for obtaining written verification, Buchanan said that the Energy Office will reimburse the purchaser for the cost of the verification document, as well as pay up to $100 in transportation costs to get the old appliances to the landfill or transfer station.
That fund has about $100,000 left in it, Buchanan said.
The Energy Office also has a rebate program for residents to buy solar electric systems. Buchanan said the program has about $900,000 left in it. The money has been flowing out at about $120,000 a month, but he said he expects that figure to rise as people realize the Dec. 31 deadline is getting near.
The rebate program pays 50 percent of the purchase price of photovoltaic panels up to a maximum of 2,000 watts. The maximum rebate is $7,000. Additionally, the Energy Office offers the same rebate on wind generators that produce 2,000 watts. There is also a rebate on both sine wave invertors and battery banks of 50 percent of the purchase price. The maximum rebate is $3,000. There is a 50 percent rebate on charge controllers up to a maximum of $300.
Applications for all programs must be received by Dec. 31 because all the money must be spent by April 2012. Buchanan said the Energy Office needs that time to process the applications.
Visit www.vienergy.org for more information and a list of vendors who signed up with the Energy Office to participate in the rebate program. Call 713-8436 on St. Croix and 714-8436 on St. Thomas.