Roof solar panels at Burbank's Water & Power building on Magnolia Ave. in Burbank on Wednesday, September 28, 2011.

Roof solar panels at Burbank's Water & Power building on Magnolia Ave. in Burbank on Wednesday, September 28, 2011. (Times Community News / July 10, 2012)

Burbank Water and Power is once again accepting applications for rebates to partly cover the cost of solar energy installations, but there’s a twist — there will be a lottery.

The utility has allocated $60,000 for its latest round of residential rebates, said utility spokeswoman Jeanette Meyer.

All lottery applications, which will be accepted during July and August, will be given a number when received. In September, numbers will be drawn randomly from a bin and applications will be tallied in the order their numbers were picked.

The utility was forced to stop accepting applications last April because of high demand for residential rebates and five large commercial installations used up the majority of the $1 million earmarked for the program, Meyer said.

The state requires that installations over 30 kilowatts receive rebates paid over time based on production, Meyer said.

In mid-2013, the first large installation is expected to roll off the rebate program, according to utility officials.

Last year, the utility saw a surge in applications due to the combination of dropping installation costs and a 30% federal tax credit that will remain available through 2016.

A few years ago, the price to install a solar system was about $10 per watt, which means a three-kilowatt system cost about $30,000, Meyer said.

“In the last year or two, the pricing has really gone down,” she said. “Prices are more like $5.50 per watt.”

That means a simple, typical system today costs about $16,500, Meyer said, adding that, in some cases, the rebate will cover almost a quarter of the installation cost.

John Joyce, who heads up the Solar Support Program for Burbank Water and Power, pointed out that the applications must be mailed to the utility and that the forms ask basic information, such as whether there are unique roof designs to be considered during the installation.

Formal rebate applications to be filed by residents selected in the lottery will ask more details about the project, he added.

And just because residents aren’t selected in the initial lottery, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t give up hope, Joyce said.

If there is money left over, utility officials will continue down the list in the order the lottery numbers were picked.

Joyce also said that eight local homeowners continued with their solar installations in the last several months even though they didn’t receive rebates.

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