Welcome to the Louisiana solar power information page
Note: The numbers above are just estimates for a 5kW solar system, and your home is unique. The best way to know exactly how much money solar power can save you is to connect with one of our partners nearby. A friendly solar expert we trust will give you a buzz and help you craft a personal plan to get the absolute most out of a solar power system for your home. It's 100% free (yes, that’s right, 100% free) and you aren't obligated to buy anything.
Solar policy in Louisiana is a bit stop-and-go. More policies and incentives are missing than we’re used to in a state with costs as low and payback time frames as short as they are here. Most of that low cost and quick payback is due to the MASSIVE personal tax credit available for installing a residential solar power system. While relying so heavily on one incentive makes us worry just a bit, the tax credit is SO huge that it pretty much makes up for everything else. Read on to find out the details of that tax credit and all of the other solar policies and incentives here.
Questions? Our network of solar experts are on call to assist you. Simply sign up for personalized assistance on our special solar deals page. You can get discounted on-grid pricing as low as $4,000/kW! This is paired with the Louisiana solar incentives you see below.
Electric Bill Before Solar
Electric Bill After Solar
Est. Solar Payment
First, take a look at a typical electric bill before considering solar power. That's a nasty outlay of cash. Imagine what you could do with all that immediate savings above every month.
As a result of what state legistlatures in leasing states have accomplished, you could instead save a bunch of cash. Imagine getting this bill in the mail instead. Whew!
Now, while you have a drastically cut back power bill, you also 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. Buying 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 (see the bottom of the page under "5kw Solar System Purchase Payback Time") 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.)
A Renewables Portfolio Standard (“RPS”) requires utilities in the state to eventually source at least a certain percentage of their electricity from clean, renewable sources like solar panels. Typically you can tell how strong a state’s solar incentives are just by looking at the RPS. A strong RPS means strong rebates and other cash incentives. A weak, or worse, no RPS at all generally means little to no incentives for solar power. Fortunately that’s not the case here, thanks to that tax credit we’ll get to in a second. But even still, a strong RPS could help shift some of the cost of incentivizing solar power to the utility companies that are still chugging along on fossil-fuel based power.
An RPS is critical to strong renewable energy policy. Utility companies aren't really all that gung-ho about you producing your own power. After all, it costs them money when you use less of their electricity. They also don’t naturally want to give you big payments for energy you're feeding back into the grid. The main reason the utilities are aiding the transition to lower electric bills and offering incentives to put solar on roofs is because the state forces them to. Without an RPS, Louisiana is missing opportunities to help homeowners take advantage of clean, reliable solar power.
Even without a strong RPS, there is still good reason to go solar in LA. Read on to find out why.
What's an RPS? Your state legislature paves the way for strong solar energy incentives to flourish by setting 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.
An RPS is a mandate that says "Hey utilities! Y'all now have to make a certain percentage of your electricity from renewable sources. If not, you'll have to pay us huge fines." The consequences are good, because utilities usually try to meet these RPS standards by creating solar power incentives for you, the homeowner.
RPS solar carve out
The best states for solar mandate that a certain percentage of the RPS comes directly from solar energy. Without a mandatory RPS in Louisiana, this is another area that falls short. If an RPS contains specific carve-outs for clean and efficient technologies like solar panels, or mandates for the environmentally necessary increases in distributed generation, you see even stronger incentives for residential solar power.
What's a solar set aside? A solar set aside 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 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 2021. That requires local utilities to source 22.5% of their energy mix from renewable sources by the year 2021. Pretty good. However, New Jersey also has a specific solar set aside of 4.1% by 2028. That’s the type of firm commitment which really gets the industry rolling forward. No wonder why New Jersey is one of the hottest solar markets right now!
Louisiana Electricity Prices
Louisiana pays almost the cheapest rates in the nation for electricity. Cheap electricity rates mean you’re probably not feeling too much of a strain in your pocketbook... yet. Just don’t forget why electricity is so cheap.
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. New regulations on carbon emissions and dwindling supplies will likely drive the cost up over the next few decades. But while everyone else is paying through the nose for the fuels of the past, you’ll be rocking that sweet, shiny solar power system on your roof, and making money! Just remember to thank us.
Why are electricity prices so important? Because that is what solar power is directly competing against. The cost to produce power with solar is relatively constant (of course how much sun hits your area has an effect), so if you are paying $0.40 per watt for power, then you make FOUR TIMES AS MUCH as the guy or girl paying $0.10 per watt electricity.
The caveat here is that if the $0.10 per watt person has a HUGE rebate, they may be better off than the $0.40 per watt person. Because of that, 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.
Louisiana Solar Power Rebates
Like we said, this is where you really see the effect of having no RPS here. Without mandatory minimum levels of renewable energy, the utility companies are happy to keep relying on all those fossil fuels so long as the profits keep coming in. If they have no incentives to encourage solar power, the utilities aren’t very motivated to give you any incentives either. That’s why there are no performance payments or utility rebates available here.
How do solar rebates work? 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.
Louisiana Solar Power Tax Credits
50% up to $12,500
But now the trump card… In short, Louisiana has one of the best state solar power tax credits in the Nation. Half. They give you half the cost back as a tax credit. Wow. Even Brad Pitt is all over it. That’s 50% of the cost off your system up to $12,500. If you don’t owe that much in state tax you get a CHECK. Also, the $12,500 cap is PER SYSTEM so you could duplicate it if you have multiple meters to solar up. This single incentive is better than most states’ rebates and tax credits combined.
About state solar tax credits: State tax credits are not technically free money. However, they are 'credits' and not 'deductions' which means that if you have the tax appetite to take advantage of them, then they can be a 1-to-1 dollar amount off your taxes instead of a fraction of the cost of the system. So that means they can be an important factor to consider. In certain circumstances, state tax credits can provide a very powerful incentive for people to go solar.
(Keep in mind, we are not tax professionals and give no tax advice so please consult a professional before acting on anything we say related to taxes)
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.
Property Tax Exemption
Louisiana also offers tax exemptions to help make solar power more attractive. You are 100% exempt from all property taxes associated with the increase in home value caused by installing a solar power system. And there is an increase. That’s going to save you a pretty nice chunk of change every year.
About solar property tax exemptions: Property tax exemption status is a pretty big factor when putting together your investment considerations. Many argue that solar power adds approximately 20 times your annual electricity bill savings (if you are owning the system and not leasing. Leasing still has a positive impact on the ability to sell your home though, in our opinion).
For many average-sized solar power systems on a house, that can mean $20,000 to your home value. (Edit April, 2014: Some companies, like Solar Mosaic, are starting to offer traditional style equity-based home loans for such a thing). 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 also sourced from the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Energy Efficiency. The stronger the tax exemption, the higher the grade.
Sales Tax Exemption
Unfortunately, there is no sales tax exemption here, meaning you’ll pay an extra 4% up front on the cost of your system.
What's the deal with solar power sales tax exemptions? 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).
Solar Power Performance Payments
Again, without an RPS, there is little incentive for utility companies to pay a premium for solar. That holds as true in the bayou as it does in the desert.
Explanation of performance payments: 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 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
Time it Takes for 5kW of Solar Power to Pay for Itself
How do all the numbers add up for you? Glad you asked! Let’s see:
Installing a typical 5 kW system should start around $20,000. Don’t worry; that’s gonna drop really fast!
- Let’s start by subtracting the state tax credit. You’re getting the max, so subtract $10,000, for a new price of... yep... $10,000.
- The federal tax credit gets calculated based on out of pocket costs. Since that state tax credit is not an up-front rebate, you get to calculate the federal tax credit based on the full $25,000 price tag. Subtract another $6,000 for a new price of just $4,000.
- Finally we subtract your first year’s energy savings, which we estimate to be about $626. That brings your final cost after the first year to an absurdly low $3,374. That’s more than 83% off the sticker price, and the lowest cost after year 1 we’ve seen in the entire country.
- With a conservative estimate for the future rise of electricity prices, you can expect your new solar power system to pay for itself in just 6 short years. After that you’ll be turning a profit to the tune of over 20 grand through the life of your system.
- In addition to those direct wallet-fattening savings, you also increased your home value by $12,517.
- On top from all that green in your pocket, you’ve created a bunch of green for the planet; 113 trees worth, every year your solar power system is humming, and you’re not buying fossil-fuel based electricity.
Keep in mind, these numbers are estimates, and your home is unique. Your cost (and your savings) will depend on a lot of factors, including your utility company, roof type, energy usage, and lots of other things. In fact, check out these 9 ways it could be more expensive.
The best way to know exactly how much money solar power can save you is to connect with one of our partners nearby. After you fill out that form, a friendly solar expert we trust will give you a buzz and help you craft a personal plan to get the absolute most out of a solar power system for your home. It's 100% free (yes, that’s right, 100% free) and you aren't obligated to buy anything.
Louisiana Net Metering
Net Metering requires your utility to monitor how much energy your solar power system produces and how much energy you actually consume, and make sure you get credit for the surplus.
Louisiana’s net metering rules, established in 2005, cover residential systems up to 25kW and commercial systems up to 300kW. Net excess power generated gets credited to your next bill at the full retail rate. Unlike many other states, Louisiana’s net metering program contains no limits; your credits continue to build indefinitely, and are never relinquished back to the utility for non-use over time. For the final month in which you take service from the utility, the utility will pay you for the balance of any credit at the utility’s avoided-cost rate.
What is 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.
Louisiana Interconnection Rules
Louisiana’s net metering law includes basic interconnection requirements, but does not establish any set any actual interconnection rules beyond those basic safety compliance requirements. As a result, there is no standard interconnection process here. The net metering law does not address insurance requirements. Sadly the law does require a redundant external disconnect switch, though many inverter-based systems (as yours almost certainly will be) can qualify for an exemption if other safety shutdown features are in place.
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.
Home Solar Power: Leasing Vs. Purchasing
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).
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The consensus on Louisiana solar power rebates and incentives
The Louisiana legislature has provided one excellent way for homeowners to take advantage of the benefits of solar power. It was a forward-thinking move, but without any more formalized laws that require utilities to source their electricity from renewable sources, it’s easy to reverse course on the benefits of the tax credit. If the tax credit were to lapse, Louisiana would be a big “F.” Based on the big picture, we had to give it a “D.”
With that big, big tax credit still rolling, however, Louisiana is a great state for solar for now. Laissez les bon temps rouler!
Again, if you are confused about how these numbers work and would like some personalized assistance or a quote of your own, simply connect with our network of solar experts. They’ll help sort out all the pricing, get you access to special deals, and they’re super friendly to boot!