Would-Be Solar Electric Homeowners Sought For Project

For more information contact:
Kerry Masson, 275-4083

Golden, Colo., Oct. 2, 1996 -- The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the Colorado Office of Energy Conservation are seeking homeowners interested in becoming part of a market assessment project to evaluate the potential market for rooftop photovoltaic power systems connected to local utility grids.

A grid-tied rooftop photovoltaic system consists of solar panels that convert sunlight to electricity mounted on a customer's roof and connected to the conventional electric system. During the day, the solar panels provide electricity for home use. Excess electricity may be sold back to the utility. At night, or when additional power is needed, the utility provides conventional electricity to the home.

The project, conducted in cooperation with Colorado utilities, will assess the market potential and practicality of home photovoltaic systems. The utilities will offer the systems as a customer service option to an initial group of 50 homeowners. The systems will be part of a demonstration project sponsored by DOE, the Utility Photovoltaic Group, Solarex and the participating utilities.

Candidates must be willing to seriously consider paying as much as $100 more per month to have a 2- or 3-kilowatt photovoltaic system installed on their roofs or to purchase the $8,000-$12,000 system outright. A 3-kilowatt system produces approximately the same amount of electricity used in an average Colorado single-family home. Participants will be selected based on an assessment of their home, interests and product preferences and availability of the systems. Homeowners also must be customers of a participating Colorado utility.

Utilities currently participating in the project include Public Service Company of Colorado, Aspen Municipal, Colorado Springs Department of Utilities, City of Fort Collins Light and Power, La Plata Electric Association Inc., WestPlains Energy, Tri-State G&T, Platte River Power Authority, Gunnison County Electric Association and Holy Cross Electric Association. Other Colorado utilities may join the project in the future.

Homeowners interested in being part of the market assessment project should send their name, address and telephone number to Dr. Barbara Farhar at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 1617 Cole Blvd., Golden, Colo. 80401, fax: 303/384-7540; Email: farharb@ tcplink.nrel.gov. The application deadline is Oct. 31, 1996. Names of participants will be forwarded to their utility companies for consideration as a candidate for the rooftop photovoltaic system.