Solar-Energy Incentive Programs

In addition to the generous federal investment tax credit of 30%, there are over 900 financial and regulatory incentive programs for solar photovoltaic (PV) systems across the United States. While going solar is still a big decision with a pretty hefty price tag, it’s becoming more and more affordable, depending on where you live.

Considering solar and need to know if it adds value to your home?  Contact the appraisers at for your solar value questions.

Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC)

The solar investment tax credit (ITC) is a 30% federal tax credit for solar energy systems, both residential and commercial. Originally set to expire at the end of 2016, the tax credit has been extended and will remain at the 30% level through 2017, 2018 and 2019 and then be phased out completely over the following three years, falling to 26% in 2020, 22% in 2021 and to 10% in 2022.

There is no cap on the maximum amount of the credit. If the tax credit is more than your tax liability in the year you install the system, you can carry forward the excess amount and use it in the future. Allowable expenditures include equipment costs and labor costs for assembly, installation, preparation, and interconnection.

The tax credit applies to installations on both principal residences and second homes (even an RV or a boat can qualify as long as they are considered as a second home according to the rules of IRS).

Net Metering

Net metering is an example of a regulatory incentive for homeowners with grid-connected systems that allows you to buy electricity from the grid when you are not producing enough solar electricity and to sell your excess electricity to the grid for a credit.

In most states, you are credited for your excess electricity at the retail rate. However, recent policy changes in Nevada have resulted in a significant disincentive where solar electricity generators are only compensated for their extra electricity at the wholesale rate. After a considerable slow down in new solar system applications in that state, other jurisdictions are weighing the disadvantages of such a policy shift.

Local Incentives

Many states have put their money where their mouth is, by implementing incentive programs that truly make solar energy a better investment than sticking with the status quo (i.e. the local utility). These solar tax credits, rebates and other financial incentives can make the difference between a state/city being at grid parity or not, where grid parity is defined as the point at which solar electricity is the same or cheaper than electricity from the utility, calculated over the lifetime of the panels (on average 25 years). Now let’s take a look at three example states to better understand some of the main types of solar incentives available to homeowners.

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Disclaimer: for information and entertainment purposes only

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