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In an effort to better align solar-energy production with peak demand, the utility in Columbia, Missouri has begun to pay higher rebates for new west-facing arrays than it does for those facing south, where the sun’s most steady rays come from. The city-owned utility adjusted its rebates as of Aug. 1 in order to encourage more solar production in late afternoon, when electricity use tends to peak, especially during the high-demand summer months. West-facing panels capture more of the energy at this time of day. The rate structure is meant to tackle the “duck curve,” the tendency of solar arrays to reach maximum production in the middle of the day, a few hours before demand peaks. Two years ago, the California Energy Commission ruled that new west-facing solar installations could qualify for as much as a $500 bonus. The high cost of purchasing power to meet peak demand means that power produced locally at peak times has much higher value than power produced before the demand peak. Late-afternoon solar energy helps to reduce the overall system cost. Under the new regimen, panels facing between 180 and 200 degrees – that is between south to slightly southwest of that – will continue to receive $500 per kilowatt. Panels facing between 200 and 320 degrees – southwest to west – will qualify for a 25 percent bonus, or an additional $125 per kilowatt. Panels facing between 110 and 180 will receive 25 percent less, or a total of $375 per kilowatt. Panels outside the range from 110 to 320 degrees and at a tilt of more than 10 degrees from horizontal will receive no rebate, although they would continue to qualify for net metering.

– via Midwest Energy News

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