Electric Bill Before Solar
Electric Bill After Solar
Est. Solar Payment
Here's a typical electric bill before even considering solar panels. That's a nasty outlay of cash. Imagine what you could do with all that immediate savings above every month.
Doesn't this look a little better? Yes, of course it does. Imagine getting this bill in the mail instead. Whew!
Now, while you have a drastically cut back power bill, you now have a solar lease payment. Essentially, you're renting out your rooftop to a company who then pimps it out with solar panels. Then, you pay a lease payment to them for the power it produces. In each case, this payment added to your existing power bill will be lower than your previous bill, netting you instant savings with nothing down out of pocket! How awesome is that?!
Leasing vs. Investing in Home Solar
To lease, or not to lease? Willsolar Shakespanels would be proud we're discussing this. Here's the basic deal. If you choose to lease your panels, you benefit from no out of pocket costs and an immediately reduced total electricity payment. Because of this, many regard this option as a no-brainer, since there isn't any downside to think of. The only hiccup you'll start to experience is when you consider the long term financial benefit of owning the solar panel system yourself.
In many situations, if you can afford the outlay or can easily secure financing, the cost of the install becomes an investment with a return outpacing even the strongest performing mutual funds. In addition, there's significantly less principal risk, since the energy credits you will be producing are tied to the sun coming up in the morning instead of our financial markets!
Additionally, if you go the leasing route, you must forfeit all the credits and performance payments you would receive by owning the system yourself to the solar leasing company (after all, that's how they can afford to give you such a no-brainer proposition in the first place). A discussion of the performance payments follows.
10% by 2025 (voluntary)
What's an RPS you ask? State legislatures pave the way for strong solar energy incentives to flourish. How? By stipulating standards for renewable energy generation within their territories. Those standards are called the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS).
If utility companies do not meet these standards, they must pay alternative compliance fees directly to the state. Many utilities then determine the best ways to source their energy from renewable sources that are less expensive than this fee.
RPS solar carve out
A solar “set aside” is a mandate the state sets in its RPS. This guarantees a specific portion of the overall renewable energy mix generated comes from the sun. For those states with progressive standards, high alternative compliance payments, and clear solar carve outs, the faster those areas become ripe for solar.
Some states have higher alternative compliance fees than others, and as you can see above, some states have more progressive alternative energy standards and deadlines than others do.
For instance, New Jersey has an overall RPS of 22.5% by the year 2020. That requires local utilities to source 22.5% of their energy mix from renewable sources by the year 2020. Pretty good. However, New Jersey also has a specific solar set aside of 2% by 2021. That’s the type of firm commitment which really gets the industry rolling forward. No wonder why New Jersey is the hottest solar market right now!
Interconnection rules are a little technical, but they basically allow you to “plug in” to the electric grid with solar panels on your roof. The more complex, out of date, or nonsensical the state rules are for plugging into the grid, the lower the grade.
Specifically, the grade reflects what technologies are eligible, individual system capacity, removing interconnection process complexity for smaller systems, interconnection timelines and charges, engineering charges, prohibiting the requirement of unnecessary external disconnects, certification, spot interconnection vs. wide area interconnection, technical screens, friendliness of legalese, insurance requirements, dispute resolution, and rule coverage.
The states without any renewable standards tend to be heavily reliant on cheap coal for electricity, and also have very low electricity prices. When electricity prices are artificially low, that hinders the ability of solar energy to achieve meaningful payback in the state.
State Solar Rebates
Similar to getting a rebate card from your local big box store for a dishwasher purchase, state legislatures also provide rebates for solar panel purchases to spur on investment and create new jobs. If you purchase the solar panel system yourself, you qualify for this free cash, which many times is a lump payment back to you. Some solar installers like to take this amount directly off the total installed price, and they'll handle the paperwork for you to make things a lot less complex.
The availability of state and utility rebates were sourced from the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Energy Efficiency. The better the rebates, the higher the grade.
State Solar Tax Credits
While state tax credits are not technically free money, they can be an important factor consider, especially if you have some personal tax liability. In certain circumstances, state tax credits can provide a very powerful incentive for people to go solar.
The availability of personal tax credits for solar energy were sourced from the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Energy Efficiency. The higher the tax credit amount, the higher the grade.
State Solar Property Tax Exemption
Property tax exemption status is a pretty big factor when putting together your investment considerations. Solar will add approximately twenty times your annual electricity bill savings immediately to the value of your home upon installation. for many 5kW systems, that amounts to about $20,000. An additional $20,000 in property tax basis in many states amounts to a big chunk of change owed back to the state. However, many states have complete exemptions from added taxes when you install solar on your home!
The availability of a property tax exemption for solar energy was sourced from the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Energy Efficiency. The stronger the tax exemption, the higher the grade
State Solar Sales Tax Exemption
When states give you a sales tax break on solar, we notice. You should too. State sales tax exemption status for the purchase of solar energy systems were sourced from the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Energy Efficiency. Sales tax exemptions, if present, were all 100%. A handful of states are completely exempt from sales tax regardless, and therefore received ‘A’ grades by default (OR, DE, MT, AK, and NH).
State Net Metering
Net metering is the billing arrangement where you can sell excess electricity back to your utility for equal the amount you are charged to consume it. The more customer friendly net metering policies, the higher the grade.
The grade here specifically reflects individual solar system capacity, caps on program capacity limits, restrictions on “rollover” of kWh from one month to the next (yep just like cell phone minutes), metering issues (like charges for new meters), Renewable Energy Credit (REC) ownership, eligible customers and technology (the more renewables the better), being able to aggregate meters across the property for net metering, and safe harbor provisions to protect customers from solar tariff changes.
Solar Performance Payments
NIPSCO only Solar 10kW or less: $0.30/kWh Solar 10kW-2MW: $0.26/kWh
Performance payments represent a big chunk of the financial rationale for going solar, and in many instances they make your decision a wise one. For certain states, if you’ve got solar panels on your roof, not only will you be cutting your electric bill down to size, but you'll be getting paid additional cash from your utility company. Pretty awesome, huh? Not only are you generating electricity for yourself, freezing your own popsicles with with sun, and feeling like you’re doing something smart for your children or any of the other 4 reasons people go solar, but you are getting PAID!
Utility companies are paying people with solar panels on their roofs because their states say they have to, otherwise they will pay a fee. Therefore, the payment amount to homeowners is typically a little bit less than the amount they would be billed for by the state. For states with these alternative compliance fees, Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC) exchanges have popped up. In the above chart, we outlined an estimate of yearly payments a homeowner might expect from the utility company for the SREC credits from their solar energy system.
Expected SREC payments were calculated by using the latest trade values in the SRECtrade database. The availability of feed-in tariffs were sourced from the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Energy Efficiency. The higher the expected monthly payments, the higher the grade.
If you don’t know what an SREC is, or how they work, check out this great SREC video
5kw Solar System Purchase Payback Time
If you decide not to go with the leasing option, we've calculated the amount of time it would take for your home solar panel system to pay for itself if you put up the cost of the install out of pocket or financed it yourself. This calculation takes into account all the rest of the incentives below, and assumes you meet all the criteria to take advantage of them (e.g. - having a tax appetite, south facing roof with limited shade, etc.)
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Welcome to the Indiana solar power information page – Details Section
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When we last check in with the Hoosier State, the future did not seem all that bright for solar power here. We’re happy to report that the legislature has started to make progress. The implementation of an RPS — even an optional RPS — is a solid start toward strong solar policy. There is, however, a great deal of work left to be done, and legislators are missing easy opportunities for big gains for Indiana solar panels. Let’s take a look at where solar policy here is strong, and where it still needs to be improved.
Indiana’s Renewables Portfolio Standard
A Renewables Portfolio Standard is a law or other piece of regulation that mandates that a certain percentage of at state’s energy production comes from renewable resources by specified target dates. A strong RPS is the backbone of strong solar policy and almost always motivates the utilities incentivizing small-scale renewable energy like residential solar panel systems.
Indiana unfortunately lacks a true RPS, but legislators have recently started at least moving in the right direction. In May 2011, Indiana passed the Comprehensive Hoosier Option to Incentivize Cleaner Energy (“CHOICE”) program. CHOICE sets a voluntary goal of 10% clean energy by 2025 (based on 2010 production levels). Utilities that elect to participate in CHOICE are eligible to receive incentives from the state to help pay for the cost of CHOICE-compliant projects like Indiana solar panels.
The program launched in January 2012. No reports on utilities opting into the program or their progress have been reported as of yet. Utilities that do opt in are expected to meet the CHOICE goals in 3 stages: an average of 4% qualifying clean energy between 2013 and 2018; 7% between 2019 and 2024; and finally 10% by 2025.
Indiana Solar Power Performance Payments
Performance payments are limited for Indiana solar panels. In fact, only customers of two utilities are eligible: Northern Indiana Public Service Corporation (“NIPSCO”) and Indianapolis Power & Light (“IP&L”).
NIPSCO offers a feed-in tariff of $0.30/kilowatt-hour (“kwh”) of solar energy produced. Unlike a lot of other feed-in tariffs we’ve seen, NIPSCO also allows you to hold back up to 1 MW of energy for on-site use (i.e., to power your home), and will still pay you at $0.30/kwh for any surplus.
IP&L also offers a feed-in tariff through its Rate REP program. Rate REP only offers payments starting at a minimum system size of 20kw; while residential systems are eligible, that size requirement probably excludes most single-family homeowners. If you do have a system over 20kw, you are eligible for payments of $0.24/kwh.
Indiana Solar Power Rebates
Indiana solar panel rebates are extremely limited as well. In fact, in the entire state only IP&L offers a rebate on the installation of a residential solar power system. If you’re an IP&L customer you are eligible for a solar power rebate of $2.00/watt ($2,000/kw). The maximum rebate is $4,000.
Indiana Solar Power Tax Credits
There is currently no tax credit for Indiana solar panels. Legislators are missing an easy and essential opportunity to incentivize clean energy. This is especially true given the bleak solar rebate and performance payment pictures.
Thankfully Indiana does offer tax exemptions to help make solar power even more attractive. First up, you are 100% exempt from all property taxes associated with the increase in home value caused by installing a solar power system (twenty times your annual electricity savings – covered in more detail later). That’s going to save you a pretty nice chunk of change every year. You also are likely exempt from all sales tax (that’s 7% here) on the purchase of your solar power system. We say “likely” because the exemption has not yet been officially determined to cover solar energy production. However, the wording of the statute and the recent ruling determining wind energy production to be eligible both strongly suggest your solar power system qualifies as well. Don’t worry – the solar installers we partner with can take care of all these details for you and make sure you save the most money possible.
Indiana pays an average of 10.71 cents/kwh of electricity. That’s cheap! More than half a cent cheaper than the national average of 11.43 cents/kwh in fact.
Why is energy still so cheap? Only because most of our electricity still comes from burning millions of tons of fossil fuels. The cost of those fossil fuels in dollars and cents may be low (for now), but the environmental costs are astronomically high. Switching to solar power now saves you money (and helps save the planet); when scarcity and environmental costs drive up the monetary costs of fossil-fuel based energy, the early switch to solar power is going to be saving you piles and piles of money. Just remember to thank us.
Net Metering and Interconnection
Net metering requires your utility to monitor how much energy your solar power system produces and how much energy you actually consume. If you produce a surplus, you get credit for it in payment or bill credits (or both).
Indiana net metering standards call for surplus energy production to be applied as a credit on your next monthly bill. Credits can be carried over indefinitely, but there are no provisions forcing the utility to cut you a check if you continually run a surplus.
Overall we gave net metering in Indiana a B because of system size caps that may prevent larger customers from meeting all of their on-site energy needs, and aggregate circuit capacity limits that may prevent everyone who wants to take advantage of net metering from doing so. That said, net metering is fairly strong for residential customers, and with 40% of current net metering capacity reserved for residential use, you shouldn’t have any problems getting into the program.
Interconnection standards are strong in Indiana as well. Systems under 10kw (i.e. most residential systems) fall into Level 1 of the tiered system. Level 1 systems do not pay any fees for application or interconnection review, and utilities may not specify any additional requirements for you to get onto the grid. The only thing we’d like to see changed for Level 1 standards is a prohibition on the requirement of a redundant external disconnection switch. Currently that requirement is at the utility’s discretion.
Example 5kW (5000 Watt DC STC) Solar System Return on Investment in Indiana
What do all the numbers add up to for you? Let’s take a look at a typical 5 kilowatt installation in the Indianpolis area.
Installing a typical 5kW solar system should start at about $25,000. Don’t worry, that’s going to come down a lot in year 1.
- First we subtract the solar power rebate available from IP&L straight from the top. Your 5kw system will get the full $4,000 back, dropping your costs to $21,000 already.
- The federal government calculates the 30% federal solar tax credit based on out of pocket costs, i.e. after the IP&L rebate. Subtract $6,300 for a new price of $14,700.
- After the tax credit we subtract your first year’s energy savings, which we estimate to be about $627. That brings your cost to $14,073, a price drop of nearly eleven thousand already.
- With a conservative estimate for the future rise of electricity prices, you can expect your new solar power system to pay for itself in about 15 years. After that you’ll be turning a profit (yes, a profit) for the rest of the life of your solar panels (typically about 25 years). We estimate that profit to be about $16,000 through 2037.
- In addition to all that money directly in your wallet, that new solar power system also increases your home value by $12,531, all of it tax free.
- Not to be forgotten, you’re also pumping out a bunch of green for the environment. Tree green that is. The fossil-fuel energy you’re not using is the carbon-saving equivalent of planting 103 trees a year, every year your solar power system is humming.
These numbers are estimates. Your home is unique and how much power you generate and how much money you save depends on that uniqueness. The best way to find out how much cash switching to solar can save you is to get one of our free quotes, and an expert installer in your area can draw up a home-specific estimate for you. Your quote is 100% free (yes, that’s right, 100% free) and you can get as many of them as that smart shopper in you desires!
The consensus on Indiana solar power rebates and incentives
Overall things are trending in the right direction here. As we said up front, there is still a lot of work to be done, but progress is progress, even if it’s only minimal. To make more progress, legislators should start with a stronger, mandatory RPS. If you add in a statewide rebate program for Indiana solar panels, that’d really be something. In Indianapolis for instance, even the moderate $4,000 offered by IP&L is enough to bring payback timeframes to a high, but not off-the-charts bad 15 years. A larger state solar power rebate program could instantly improve payback timeframes statewide. Until those or other improvements happen, however, we still have Indiana rated as a “D.”
Our older archived Indiana Solar Power costs and savings breakdown images for reference: