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Solar Power Rocks

Clear info on home solar power rebates, tax credits, and other benefits

Tor Valenza aka “Solar Fred”

I’ve been interested in solar power since I was a kid in the 1980’s when solar was cool but not affordable.  As I approached college, I told everyone I knew that I was going to become a solar engineer! … And then  I took calculus. So, naturally, I focused on the blah and non-calculus world of writing and PR.

Cut to a few years ago, after seeing a double feature of “An Inconvenient Truth” and “Who Killed the Electric Car.” I was inspired again and realized that solar was still cool and now affordable, yet few people knew that.  So, I took a few great solar financing and technical classes at two great institutions, The Solar Living Institute and Solar Energy International, and found out solar was still complicated, but not as bad as calculus. Whew!

After finishing those classes, I started a blog,, to simplify what I’d learned for the “Freds” and “Fredrickas” of the world. put me on the map in the solar world, and that’s how I met Dan and Dave.

I’ve contributed a lot of great solar information on and had a great time, but I’m now taking a break from the site to do more full time marketing and communications consulting for other solar companies.

If you’d like to contact me, you can still reach me at  For you Tweeters, follow me on Twitter @solarfred.

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18 thoughts on “Tor Valenza aka “Solar Fred”

  1. Carl E Kennedy says:

    That was a very nice article you wrote about Heather Andrews. I never met her but would have liked to. You made her sound very special, which I’m sure she was.

    Thanks Tor, I think your probably a special person also your articles and comments always seem to be coming from a person who loves what he’s doing. It’s hard to find that in life. You’re lucky as we are for being the recipient of your work.

    Carl Kennedy

  2. Gayle says:

    Can anyone give me an idea of the going sales price per watt range for an AC solar power system including top tier chinese panels and Enphase microinverter on a composite shingle roof in Texas? e-mail address

  3. BSSolar says:

    Tor, I’ve really enjoyed your posts on and I think your ideas on sales and marketing for solar installers are spot on and the companies you help will meet great success. Although we haven’t directly worked with you, our company has followed your posts and have incorporated a lot of the ideas you’ve talked about. Hopefully, as our business grows, we can contract your company for some personalized consulting. Great work so far!

    1. Thanks so much, BS Solar! Glad I can help, and hope you continue to get more solar on roofs! For more solar marketing posts, check out my blog posts on at


      Tor/Solar Fred

  4. richard says:

    GREAT web-site
    I wonder if there is an info source that gives basic, obvious, installer info.
    For instance, if there is a parapet surrounding flat roofs ( such as typical new mexico roofs,,,), that rule of thumb is 2 feet away from the edge to install solar panels…
    Something that has basic installer/designer rules?????
    Thanx guys… S. Fred— keep it up

  5. Tom says:

    I own a 300,000 SF building in New Haven County, CT that was previously a medical center. It is empty and I am redeveloping it into a affordable Continuum of Care facility. I have to install a new heating/cooling system and solar power has been mentioned. As I am in the early stages of redevelopment, I would like to learn more about solar power for a commercial building and see if it is feasible…can you recommend a company in New Haven County or even Connecticut that I can speak with?

    1. Dave Llorens says:

      Tom, yes. Give this form a go and we will reach out to get you a quote.

  6. dbozek says:

    looking to understand consumers energy incentives for solar. have not been able to find a lot on the desire site, thought you may have the knowledge. Great job on the site and spreading the word about renewables.

  7. John Bariana says:

    I love this website, I am an installer how do i get on your list to give free quotes?

    1. John,

      We are currently not accepting any more installers, but we will keep your contact info on file when that changes. Could be soon, but rest assured, you’re in our database. Thanks for visiting.

  8. Doug says:

    Hey Guys, I’m looking to get into the solar field. I’m trying to find legit reviews on some schools/training that I’ve found. I see that Solar Fred mentions 2 in his bio. Are either/both of these worth the $$. Some of the schools aren’t cheep ($3400 for 6 days) while others offer for less (under $1000 for 5 days).
    Can anyone help?

  9. K says:

    Does this mean the $15,000 rebate in NY is no longer available? Applications had to be in by May? NYS Renewable Portfolio Standard Customer Sited Tier Fuel Cell Program Incentive Summary
    Available Funding Through 12/31/2009(applications must be received by 5/29/2009, contracts must be executed by 12/31/2009):

    1. Not sure about fuel cells, but I do know that solar rebates are still on until funding runs out or December 31st, 2009, whichever comes first.

  10. Joseph Suto says:

    I live in PA and just embarked on putting solar on our roof. We just signed a contract for an 8.8Kw system.
    When doing some research I stumbled on your site and appreciate the content.
    I think the section that talks about the Federal and State Credits or rebates may be wrong. Your info states that the 30% Federal credit is taken after your local states rebate or credit program. In fact the Federal Rebate is always taken off the whole cost of the system.

    System Cost: $65,000
    Federal Rebate: $19,500
    State Rebate: $19,800
    Net Cost: $25,700
    I think you do however have to count the $19,800 State rebate as taxable income.

    1. Joseph, thanks for commenting, but from what I just read from that same document, I think we’re right. You may have been reading about the commercial ITC.

      What leads me to beloeve that we’re calculating correctly is this passage here from the same document:

      “A rebate received by a homeowner in a residential context usually does not have to be reported as
      income when the rebate is received from the local utility. A homeowner who does not report the
      rebate as income takes a “tax basis” in solar equipment equal to the net amount he paid. In other
      words, if the solar equipment has a gross cost of $20,000, but a rebate from the local utility pays
      $2,000, then his tax basis in the equipment for purposes of calculating the residential tax credit is

      Again, we’re not tax experts, so perhaps we’re mis-interpreting, but …that’s the part we’re going by and a lot of solar software calculators calculate it the same way, after deducting the rebate. Also, I believe as of this writing in September 2009, the IRS has yet to specifically give guidance about residential. Best thing to do is consult your tax person. One way or another, it’s going to be good for you and good for solar. It’s just a question of HOW good.

      Thanks for commenting and any way you look at it, your rock, Joseph, for going solar!

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