Photo : Flickr/Patrick Hosely
For the last 3 years, SolarPowerRocks is and has been a very useful resource for solar consumers. We’ve got tons of information about technology and solar economics–some of which needs a bit of updating because solar rebates change so often in so many states. Forgive us.
However, there are some evergreen solar posts that remain useful for anyone wishing to go solar in 2010 and beyond. These are in no particular order, but they are skewed toward understanding solar economics. The reader comments and our responses are also pretty informative as well.
Some of these are also mentioned below, but as I said, we’re slanting on economics here.
Net Metering is perhaps the most important solar policy in the U.S. right now. Think of net metering as a virtual battery storage device that sometimes pays you money back at the end of the year.
Solar Leases and Solar Power Purchase Agreements are becoming increasingly popular in the U.S. because they have low up front costs. The down side is that you generally don’t save (or earn) as much money as buying. Be sure to read reader comments for more discussion about this.
PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) is another way to go solar with low to no upfront costs. The concept is generally the same in every city, although there can be different qualifications in every state. With PACE, you finance your solar and/or energy efficiency improvements through a special tax assessment on your property. Should you move before 20 years, no problem. Unlike a loan, the new home owner takes over the payments (and the solar savings.)
Until 2016, Americans can receive an uncapped 30% tax credit that helps bring down the cost of solar. However, it doesn’t always come off the top. Here’s a simple guide to calculate the tax credit, but we always recommend confirming everything we say with a tax geek. We’re just solar geeks.
Dave gives a great overview of Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs). Right now, this incentive is hot in New Jersey and a few other states, but as solar markets grow throughout the U.S., SRECs are going to be a great extra cash benefit to going solar.
Feed-in-Tariffs (FiTs) are another way to incentivize solar and is widely credited with the solar boom in Germany, Spain, and other countries. Instead of rebates and net metering, you finance your solar system through a bank loan. However, the Utility pays you a huge cash premium for every watt that your system produces. In theory, you quickly pay back your loan and keep making money throughout the 20 year contract. FiTs are only in some states and/or cities, but there is a chance that there will one day be a national FiT.
Naturally, no matter how you finance your solar, we just want you to go solar. If you’re not sure if solar is right for you, forget guessing. Just get a free quote. What can you lose? It’s free, and free is almost as good as free energy from the sun.
Thanks for reading.