Reports of Unfair Early FPL Solar Rebate Applications

Note: See updates in Comments below.

The last round of the FPL Solar Rebate Program was supposed to begin taking applications at 8:30 am ET today on FPL’s website. There are reports rolling in of applications being started (and possibly even completed) prior to the start time. Several applicants reported that the Apply button showed up as early as 8:23 am and those applicants were able to begin filling out the online form well in advance of the stated start time. Furthermore, other applicants reported that they did not see the Apply button while continuously refreshing their web browser before 8:30 am, and some never saw the Apply button before all of the rebate money was exhausted.

I was on speakerphone with another applicant who reported at 8:27 am that their Apply button appeared. At 8:30 am I was still unable to begin the application process at a different location despite force-refreshing tabs in multiple browser windows continuously. Even two computers in the same home were not able to access the rebate form starting at the same time, so it was not a geographic or ISP issue.

Something is fishy. I can see this becoming a huge firestorm in the coming days, as jaded applicants and solar contractors cry foul. We were still able to get through some applications, but not all. The fairness of the program and the application process has always been called into question, but this early start to the application process was the the most questionable start to the rebate program in its five year history.

If there is any solace, the rebate program has ended per a recent Public Service Commission decision. We can all go back to business as usual without the distraction of this poorly designed and administered program. Since solar electric prices have plummeted, utility incentives are not a prerequisite for viable investments in solar, and demand without rebates is growing.

FPL Rebate Started Early

  • Comment (11)
  • blank Duane Sebesta says:

    After being unable to submit an application on Jan 14 due to the system “glitches,” I hoped to have a more equal chance today, even though it was still “first come, first served.” Predictably, the web application failed again. I got in as soon as the Apply button appeared, but on the 3rd step, about 2 minutes in, the FPL website crashed. I stayed in it, hoping to limp through and finally got to the last step to submit after 30 minutes of fighting with the website, and I received a message indicating that my session has timed out due to inactivity. UGH! I tried to go back in, but the link is closed. Ho,w can anyone have any faith in such a process, as Jason suggests, that is designed to fail. Clearly, FPL isn’t that interested in renewables.

    • blank Jason Szumlanski says:

      Duane: Our industry trade group, FlaSEIA, has set up a RATE PAYER FAIRNESS Hot Line. If you were negatively impacted by this failure, it is imperative that you call (407) 339-2010.

  • blank Nina Schumann says:

    My application was accepted on 1/14/15 and acknowledged with an email at 8:27 a.m. from PVResidentialReservation@fpl.com. Never got a reservation email. Was told to reapply 1/21/15. Reapplied shortly after 9:00 a.m. this morning when the crashed site re-opened. Application not accepted – notice on page said funds depleted. I filed a complaint with the Florida Public Service Commission online and urge others to do so today!!

  • blank Jason Szumlanski says:

    UPDATE: In another massive failure, widespread reports of a frozen FPL rebate application website are pouring in this morning as FPL tried to open the rebate window again.

  • blank Lizbeth says:

    My sister and I both tried for rebates on our homes, we refreshed starting at 8:15. ( never trust a start date) we saw the open at 8:23 and my application was filled out and submitted. I noticed that the application would notify you if you entered something wrong ( adding a “,” or a “$” to a cost would flag it red but still allow you to submit) I corrected mine but my sister who left a $ in-front of the install amount did not. I was accepted and she got rejected for the “$”.

    I am glad I received my reservation but I would rather have seen a lottery which allowed everyone to submit and have a chance. The thing I hated most about this program ( after trying for 4 years) is how some of these solar companies are hiring people to fill out the rebate forms for their customers and in most cases they are getting them through. So this isn’t a race between homeowners. I guess when these solar companies are making thousands they can afford to higher professionals.

    • blank Jason Szumlanski says:

      A lottery would have been a better option, because naturally dealers (myself included) have every incentive in the world to apply on behalf of our customers. However, the real problem is that the program was designed to fail. The rebate was far, far too generous (obviously, if demand was so strong as to exhaust funds in 2 minutes). Because of the limited funding, the utilities knew exactly how much solar energy was going to be installed under the program. It’s simple math. The program effectively LIMITED the amount of solar power installed, while the stated goal was to encourage (maximize) participation.

      If the rebate amount was half as much, there would have been twice as much installed. If it was a quarter, it would have been 4 times as much… and so on.

      The whole program was poorly designed and implemented, and the utilities are loving it. They now get to go to the legislature and Public Service Commission and say what a failure the program was. However, they forget to mention that it was THEIR failure to implement a program that met the objective!

  • blank Jason Szumlanski says:

    UPDATE: It has now come to light that individuals who had applications accepted in the first round, but would have been put on the standby list, will now need to reapply for a rebate on January 21. This is causing quite a stir among applicants because they may not be as successful in the second application round, which would make the process unfair (again). Furthermore, solar dealers are upset because they had costs associated with the first round applicants, and now those that should have been wait-listed will have to apply again, potentially resulting in extra costs to dealers applying on the behalf of applicants. Furthermore, it is now unclear whether FPL is actually putting and additional $4M into the program, because there is no longer a standby list for the first round, meaning that the entire allotted amount for the first round may not be spent. In other words, there are still questions that remain, and we are working on getting answers. Stay tuned!

  • blank Tony says:

    Half of the customer applications that were accepted yesterday, are now being asked to resubmit along with everyone who didn’t even get to submit an application. The other half of our customers who had an accepted application were approved. Makes no sense whatsoever. FPL is claiming to add $4 million to a new fund, but they are simply taking away half of the rebates that were accepted yesterday.

  • blank Ryan L. says:

    We experienced the same thing this morning trying to apply for our rebate. Lucky for us i happened to be navigating around our FPL account at around 8:25am and noticed the “apply now” come up. I was able to get ours in and get it approved, but man was it close. I noticed by 8:30am the money was all gone. Very strange how it opened up early.

  • blank Jason Szumlanski says:

    UPDATE: FPL is sending out emails to affected customers acknowledging the error, and offering another opportunity to apply for a rebate next Wednesday.

  • blank Jason Szumlanski says:

    UPDATE: It has been unequivocally confirmed that rebate applications were processed and confirmed before 8:30 am. I have seen multiple emails sent to homeowners before that time, which means the application process was actually completed, not just started, before 8:30 am. Here is one screenshot example:

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