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In response to a post this morning about solar rebates, the District Department of the Environment sent over this note:

DDOE would like to clarify the record with respect to your article, “Solar Rebates Slashed Again, Jeopardizing Fragile Progress.” DDOE invited Ms. Schoolman and other solar advocates to assure them of the DDOE’s strong support of the city’s Renewable Energy Incentives Program (REIP), to offer a venue where residents could ask hard questions and get straight answers, and equally importantly, to find common ground on which to partner, move forward, and find ways to continue this important program during these tough economic times.

The District’s REIP is currently the most generous solar incentive program in the country, providing large incentives to relatively few residents, while other jurisdictions provide lower incentive amounts to allow funding a larger number of projects. Unfortunately, to help restore the District’s financial health, the REIP, like many other programs, was reduced in FY’11. The DC Council, DDOE and all District agencies are forced to make tough choices that allow fewer dollars to go further. In addition to the REIP, DDOE, through the Sustainable Energy Trust Fund (SETF), also funds low income weatherization programs, low income heating assistance,  and the Saving Energy in DC Schools program. Despite severe financial pressures, Director Tulou has worked hard to protect REIP funding levels.  The decision to restore REIP funding rests not with DDOE, but with the DC City Council that must authorize additional funding. DDOE is committed to working with our City Council and the Mayor as they consider how to move forward find the funding necessary to support the 56  applicants already pre-approved to receive solar rebates.

There is no question that Director Tulou led a frank discussion at this meeting and shared his ideas to continue the District’s progress in this field once the REIP program sunsets after FY’12. Ultimately, the District will most benefit if all parties sit down together in the spirit of cooperation and fiscal responsibility with the goal of finding innovative ways to continue and develop the District’s leadership in energy efficiency and climate responsibility. By working together—as one city—we all can and will provide the necessary vision and leadership to reach this goal.

— Donna Henry, Public Information Officer, District Department of the Environment