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Guide to Solar Financing

Jessica PirroJanuary 31, 20203550

Homeowners Guide to Financing for Solar

If you’re a homeowner who is looking to install solar panels, you’ve picked the perfect time to do so! The cost of solar is at an all-time low and has dropped by 60% since 2010, meaning that solar power is more affordable than ever! Homeowners that are using the energy that is generated by their solar power systems, can significantly reduce (or offset) their utility bills, meaning that the solar panels will eventually pay for themselves.

But, solar power systems are still a significant investment, especially since it is going to take several years for a lot of homeowners to achieve a return on their investment. This is why it is very important to consider the specifics of your home and your energy use and getting to know the different types of solar incentives, financing for solar, and other programs that can help you afford your solar power system.

Solar Rebates, Tax Credits, and Tax Exemptions

When you purchase solar panels, you are most likely going to be eligible for multiple cost-mitigating solar incentives. These can help cover the costs of getting a new solar power system and improve your solar panels ROI making the payback time extremely attractive for homeowners. The specifics of these solar incentives may vary vastly, depending on your home’s location and the energy provider that your use. Here’s a rundown of the different types of solar incentives that are available to homeowners.

The Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC)

The Federal ITC is one of the best ways to save on your project if you are paying for your solar power system upfront. This program currently offers a tax credit worth 26% of your solar power systems total costs.

The percentage is going to be calculated form the cost of your solar power systems equipment plus any associated qualified expenditures. The government defines these as labor costs for on-site preparation, assembly or original solar panel installation, and for piping or wiring to interconnect a solar power system to the house.

Buyers may apply for these credits when they file their federal income taxes. After calculating taxes, the value of the credit is deducted from the taxability, or the amount owed after calculating yearly earnings assets, and deductions. If the tax liability is less than the value of the credit, the filer might roll over the remaining amount to use on next year’s taxes.

If you are planning to purchase your solar power system sometime in the future, you should know that the value of the ITC might have changed. In its current iteration, the value of the credit is set to drop to 22% after 12/31/2020. If you are planning to use the ITC to purchase your solar power system, you might want to plan around these changes.

State Government Solar Incentives

Some state governments offer their programs for a solar power system in addition to the federal ITC. The details of these programs may vary depending on your state. For instance, there are some residents in the United States might be eligible for a tax credit worth 25% of their solar power system. Statewide tax credit programs like these are not common, but they do exist in certain places. Check with your state government for more information.

Certain states are also going to offer exclusions in property taxes. This is a more common benefit provided by state governments. The value that your solar power system adds to your home is not reflected in your property taxes, thereby providing some financial relief to solar households.

Frequently, states will offer exemptions to sales tax on solar power systems. That means you can buy your solar power equipment free of sales tax applied to retail purchases. Depending on the cost of your solar power system and the sales tax rate in your state, this may represent a value of several hundred dollars.

Another common type of state solar incentive is a rebate offered per-kilowatt hour up to a certain dollar amount. You should be sure to keep in mind that state legislatures frequently revise, amend or annul laws around statewide solar incentives, so the details of these programs are subject to change.

Cash Rebates for Solar Panels

In some areas, homeowners can get cash rebates from your state, utility company, or another organization that plans on promoting solar energy. Solar energy rebates are generally available for a limited time and end once a certain amount of solar panel installations have been completed. Rebates for solar panels can also help homeowners lower the cost of solar panel installations by 10 to 20 percent.

Performance-Based Solar Incentives

There’s also going performance-based incentives that certain states or utilities offer, these will pay solar power system owners to credit the solar power that their solar panel installation produces. Certain PBI programs are going to require that you install solar power equipment that was manufactured in your state to qualify. Unlike SRECs, PBIs don’t need to be sold through a market, and the solar incentive rates are determined when the solar power system is installed. PBIs might replace or exist alongside net metering policies.

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