Solar Power Rocks logo

Solar Power Rocks - Clear info on home solar power rebates, tax credits, and other benefits

Get solar installed for $0 down in Rhode Island!

Get quotes from trusted local installers

Privacy Assurance - We will not sell or otherwise transmit your personal information to others without your permission.

2019 Policy Grade


Avg. Yearly Savings


Congratulations! You've found the ultimate guide to going solar in Rhode Island

2019 Policy Grade


Avg. Savings/year


Your 2019 guide to getting solar panels for your home in Rhode Island

This page is a complete guide to the complicated and sometimes confusing process of installing solar panels on your Rhode Island home. Since there's a lot to consider, we've separated the page into sections to help you find what you are looking for. If you find this page useful, please share it with someone who might also find it interesting!

red ribbon

** What's new for 2019 **

Among the earliest Colonists to arrive in America, those who settled in the colony of Rhode Island were probably the feistiest and most independent. By 1663 they had negotiated a charter with King Charles II establishing Rhode Island as a highly autonomous self-governing colony with religious freedom and recognized territorial claims. True to form, they were the last to ratify the Constitution, demanding that the Bill of Rights be added to guarantee individual freedoms. Rhode Island, in spite of its diminutive size, has obviously played a large role in shaping the history of this country, as well as their own destiny.

Rhode Island used to be at the forefront of shaping renewable energy policy, as well. The legislature here was an early adopter of a Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) (we’ll get to them in just a second) and paved the way for solar power conversion by offering a personal tax credit to help drive down the costs of solar for homeowners like you.

Unfortunately the legislature has been less active of late, allowing the tax credit to expire and delaying the RPS goals by a year. Thankfully, they've also begun a 4-year program that pays solar panel owners a great deal more than retail rates for the electricity their system produce. That program is driving a new solar renaissance in Rhode Island. Find out what it could mean for you below.

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 Rhode Island solar incentives you see below.

The Solar Strategy section is focused on the 3 ways of paying for solar in Rhode Island, so you can decide which is best for you. We've created a tool that asks you a few questions and recommends whether you should pursue a solar lease, loan, or outright purchase. Then, we provide detailed analysis of how each works.

The Policy Information section contains all our latest research on the rules set by lawmakers and the Public Utilities Commission, which determine how easy it is to go solar in Rhode Island. These policies and rules govern everything from renewable energy mandates to interconnection, and have a huge effect on the viability of solar.

Finally, the Solar Incentives section includes information about money-back rebates and grants, tax credits, and tax exemptions for going solar in Rhode Island.

Click any of the boxes below to go to that section of the page, or scroll down to read the page in order.

Your Solar Strategy in Rhode Island

Figuring out the best way to go solar in Rhode Island can be a little daunting. From loans and leases to power-purchase agreements, there are a lot of options out there. To help you pick the one that might be best, we've created the handy decision tool below.

We'll ask you a few simple questions about you and your home. Once you're done, we'll recommend a good option. Further down this page, we provide cost estimates and example return-on-investment calculations for all the various options:

How should you pay for solar?

Use our decision tool to find out!

How to pay for solar panels in Rhode Island

solar investment returns in Rhode Island

The chart above shows the 25-year returns for an investment in solar whether you choose to purchase a system with cash or pay over time with a loan or lease. One thing it's important to note is: solar makes you a lot of money in Rhode Island. Yes, we said "makes!" You see, Rhode Island is bascially the perfect solar state, and not because of how much sun it gets.

There are two huge factors working in solar's favor in Rhode Island: the state's Small-Scale Solar grant program and the Renewable Energy Growth Program. Combined, they mean you'll save thousands up front on a new solar system and sell the electricity it produces for thousands more. Solar is cheaper than ever, so the Rhode Island incentives combined with the Federal 30% tax credit for solar means a solar panel system pays itself back quickly and makes you lots of money over its 25-year warrantied life!

Now let's discuss that chart above. We've examined three scenarios for going solar in Rhode Island, including a solar lease, buying solar with a home equity line of credit (HELOC), or buying solar with cash. As you can see, the cash purchase option leads to the highest dollar-amount returns over time, but look a little closer. Taking a HELOC and paying for the system over time (the orange bars) means you'll spend thousands of dollars less over time, while reaping a big financial benefit in year 1.

That's because you take a loan for the system, but you still get all the benefits of paying up front. In Rhode Island, that means a 30% federal tax credit and big annual energy savings. With those incentives, you'll actually come out way ahead after the first year. And even though you'll be making loan payments for 15 years, the cost will be offset by the money paid for your solar electricity under the RE-Growth program.

Finally, take a look at the blue bars. They represent a solar Power-Purchase Agreement (PPA), which is also called third-party ownership. With a PPA, the solar installation company puts panels on your roof at no cost to you, and you make monthly payments that save you about $31 per month from what you had been paying the utility company for their dirty energy. PPAs in Rhode Island are awesome, because the state's high electricity prices mean you start saving money right away. Your savings will start small but finish big, because the lease cost will rise by less than the electric company's annual rate hikes. Third-party ownership is an excellent option even if you have equity or cash to put down, because it can save you tons of money!

Read more below about each of three very good options for solar in Rhode Island.

How much can you save with solar?

Find out

Option 1: Paying cash for solar

An outright purchase used to be the only way to get solar, and it's still the option that provides the "biggest" financial returns. The reason we put "biggest" in quotes here is because it's technically true—with lower equipment costs and that big Federal tax credit, solar costs less than ever before, and a solar installation pays itself off in 4 years. But if you're interested in solar as an investment, taking a loan to pay for the system is a better option.

With a loan, you can make monthly payments instead of putting $17,000 down on a solar system, which means you save money on electricity as you pay down the cost of your panels. If you have equity in your home or can get a large loan with an interest rate of 5% or less, a loan is the option to go with. It's like being able to start a business that is sure to succeed, just by having a roof. Read about loans below.

If you've got cash and you prefer to pay up front, you'll have to plunk down $20,000, but tax breaks and energy savings will erase a bunch of that after just 1 year. Over 25 years, your system will have produced almost $38,000 in income, after your system cost is paid back. The reason this works is that solar offsets your electricity costs—enough to save you $2,200 in year 1—and it just goes up from there. As the electric company raises rates, you save more and more, and more...

Here’s how the numbers work for a 5-kW rooftop solar system in Rhode Island:

  • Installing a typical 5-kW solar system should start at about $16,650. That's how big your loan will need to be to cover it. Then...
  • You'll get a huge tax break! Uncle Sam will give you 30% of the cost of your system back as an income tax credit, which in this case means $4,995 you won't be paying the Feds this year.
  • On top of that, Rhode Island's RE-Growth program will pay you double the retail rate for every kWh of electricity your panels generate this year! That's a little over $2,200 that you'll save in electricity costs this year, and it brings the net cost of your system to $9,452 after year 1.

  • With these huge savings, your system will pay itself off after just 4 years, and you'll see a profit for the next 25 years or more. You'll end up with just under $38,000 in totaly profit from your investment in solar. Wow.
  • On top of the green that will stay in your pocket, your system will mean green for the environment, too—97 trees-worth, every year!
Keep in mind, the numbers above are based on an average home in Rhode Island. If you're ready for a custom quote for a solar panel system, our network of experts are on call to assist you. Simply sign up for personalized assistance on our special solar deals page.

Option 2: Using a loan to pay for solar

You don't need $20,000 sitting around to pay for solar. As long as you have equity in your home, you can still own solar panels and reap all the benefits. Heck, even if you do have the cash, getting a loan to pay for solar is by far the best option when it comes to percentage return on investment.

That’s because, in Rhode Island, using a loan to pay for solar is like investing in a business that's sure to succeed, and also earns you a tax break!. You'll come out thousands ahead this year, and you'll see a spectacular profit over the 25-year life of your system. The reason this works so well is that you're paying over time, but reaping all the benefits now. Your yearly energy savings will offset the entire cost of the loan payments, too, which might sound like it's too good to be true... so let's take a look at the numbers.

A solar purchase like this will make sense for you if the following is true about you and your current situation:

  • You can get a home-equity line of credit (HELOC) for $16,650, with a fixed rate of 5% or lower and a 15-year repayment period. Don't be put off if you're offered a higher rate. It just means a tiny bit less of the thousands of dollars you'll make with solar.
  • You love making money without much risk.

Here’s how the numbers pencil out for a Rhode Island homeowner who makes a solar purchase with a HELOC:

  • Installing a typical 5-kW solar system should start at about $16,500. That's how big your loan will need to be to cover it.
  • The loan payments on that will be $1,478 this year, but the payments for your electricity under the RE-Growth program will be about $2,203, meaning you save $725 with solar this year, and...
  • You'll get a huge tax break! Uncle Sam will give you 30% of the cost of your system back as an income tax credit, which in this case means $4,995 you won't be paying the Feds this year.
  • Getting that tax credit means you'll come out $5,720 ahead after year 1, and it's smooth sailing from then on out. Your energy income will continue to offset your loan payments
  • After you've paid off your loan in 2031, you'll see yearly savings of about $1,400. After 25 years, your total profit will be $32,226! Jaw-droppingly awesome for a $0-down investment.
  • On top of the green that will stay in your pocket, your system will mean green for the environment, too—97 trees-worth, every year!
Keep in mind, the numbers above are based on an average home in Rhode Island. If you're ready for a custom quote for a solar loan, our network of experts are on call to assist you. Simply sign up for personalized assistance on our special solar deals page.

Option 3: Buying the electricity, not the panels with a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA)

Leasing is a great way to go solar if you haven't got stacks of cash or oodles of equity in your home. With a lease, it's possible to get solar panels for $0 down and see big savings over 20 years!

As for leases in Rhode Island: the electricity costs here are very high—we're actually almost 50% more than the national average—and the sun shines bright enough here to make solar power really profitable! That means a lease saves you money starting on day 1. For now, the power you purchase under a PPA should cost around $745 per year, but the same amount of electricity would have cost $1,112 if you bought it from the utility company. That's $367 you get to keep in your pocket this year, just for saying yes to solar!

And those savings will only get larger over time. As the utility company raises rates, your lease costs will go up by a smaller amount, meaning you'll see greater annual savings. Over 20 years, our estimate shows a total savings of $10,588. And the best part is the panels will be owned and maintained by the installation company, so all you have to do is brag to the Joneses down the street about your green habits!

Here's a little more about how a Rhode Island solar lease works:

Keep in mind, the numbers above are based on an average home in Rhode Island. If you're ready for a custom quote for a solar PPA, our network of experts are on call to assist you. Simply sign up for personalized assistance on our special solar deals page.

How much can you save with solar?

Find out

Rhode Island Solar Policy Information

Ever wonder why solar seems to be everywhere in some states, but not in others? We did too.

State legislatures and public utilities commissions can enact rules to make solar power accessible for everyone. Favorable rules explain why some of the cloudiest states—New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, are doing so well with solar, and yet some of those with the most natural solar resources—like Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia—are doing so poorly.

Below is important information about the public policy, rules, and economic reasons that affect your ability to go solar here in Rhode Island:

Rhode Island's Renewable Portfolio Standard

38.5% by 2035

Grade: B

Rhode Island's Renewable Portfolio Standard grade

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.

Rhode Island has a very good RPS law that requires utilities to generate 38.5% of their retail electricity sales from renewable resources by the end of 2035. Utilities are currently required to generate 10% of electricity from renewable resources. That requirement will increase 1.5% per year from through 2035.

Last year, we recommended that Rhode Island update the state’s RPS. They did! The old goal had an end date of 2019, so an additional 16 years and 19.5% was very welcome. Maybe this year we can have a 100% goal... and a puppy?

Rhode Island’s 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 your transition to lower electric bills and offering you incentives to put solar on your roof is because the state forces them to. If the utilities don't hit their RPS numbers, they have to pay large fees back to the state.

Learn more about Renewable Portfolio Standards

Rhode Island's RPS solar carve out


Grade: F

Rhode Island's Solar Carve-out grade

As mentioned above, Rhode Island’s RPS lacks a solar carve out, or specified targets for solar production. If the RPS contained specific carve-outs for clean and efficient technologies like solar panels, or mandates for the environmentally necessary increases in distributed generation, you’d see even stronger incentives for residential solar power.

Learn more about Solar Carve-outs

Rhode Island Electricity Prices


Grade: A

Rhode Island's Electricity cost grade

Rhode Island homeowners pay an average of 19 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity. That’s well above the national average of 13 cents/kWh. We know you hate paying that extra-high electric bill, but where you’re currently seeing larger bills, you could be seeing even bigger savings! Higher electricity prices means greater opportunity to save money by producing your own clean, earth-friendly solar power.

Find out why electricity prices matter

Rhode Island Net Metering


Grade: A

Rhode Island's Net Metering grade

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.

Rhode Island has a strong net metering program that ensures you get credit for your surplus energy production -- up to 125% of your monthly consumption. Surplus will be credited to the customer at the utilities avoided-cost rate, and may be either carried forward to the next bill or purchased by the utility, at the utilities discretion.

For 2016 and onward, the legislature doubled the net metering limit to 10 Megawatts of total generation capacity, and also added net metering for 3rd-party-owned systems. Nice job!

That’s a pretty solid law overall, but there are definitely some easy tweaks the legislature could implement to make net metering even stronger. For one, municipal and cooperative electric companies are currently exempt from the statewide net metering standards. The law should be expanded to cover all utilities. And of course, we’d like to see the option for bill rollovers or cash payments moved from the utility to you, so you can decide how the savings help you most.

Learn more about net metering

Rhode Island Interconnection Rules

Statewide, with caveats

Grade: B

Rhode Island's Interconnection Standards grade

Rhode Island’s interconnection standards are unfortunately not up to the standard set by our net metering law. The legislature did step up in June 2011 to standardize procedures across Rhode Island, but the procedures put into place are needlessly complicated.

An applicant for interconnection must submit an application to the utility for an impact study, including a request for an estimate of the cost of interconnecting the proposed system. An optional feasibility study may also be requested prior to an impact study. The feasibility study offers a shorter mandatory response time – 30 days from receipt of the completed application as opposed to 90 days for the impact study. But, as you’ve probably already realized, the faster response time will only helps those for whom interconnection is not feasible. If you are a good candidate for interconnection you will still have to wait for an impact study to be conducted.

While these studies may cost you time, they thankfully will not cost you money. There are no fees for either a feasibility or impact study for residential systems under 25 kW. However, the issue of the redundant external disconnect switch remains unaddressed by the current interconnection standards -- we’d like to see dealt with to keep your costs as low as possible.

Learn more about solar interconnection rules

Solar Incentives in Rhode Island

Next to high electricity prices and net metering, solar incentives have traditionally been the most important factor for whether home solar power makes financial sense in a state. In the past, some states with otherwise lousy policy had tremendous incentives that drove down the up-front cost of going solar so much that homeowners could save oodles of money even without net metering or a good RPS.

These days, the big incentive most people can get is the Federal Solar Tax Credit that earns you 30% of your total system costs back after just 1 year. State incentives play less of a role than in the past, but some really good ones are still out there, ready to help homeowners go solar and save money before you know it.

Let's see how Rhode Island measures up:

The availability of state solar incentives for residential solar systems was sourced from the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency, utility company websites, and the state public utility commission.

Rhode Island Solar Power Rebates


Grade: A

Rhode Island's Solar Rebates grade

On top of the state's excellent Renewable Energy Growth Program, there is also a grant program for small solar systems. Each year, the Rhode Island Renewable Energy Fund issues several rounds of grants.

For 2017, the grant amount is up to $1.05 per watt of installed solar, or $.70/watt for 3rd-party owned systems. That puts this grant program among the best in the nation. Way to go, Rhode Island!

Learn more about solar rebates

Rhode Island Solar Tax Credits


Grade: F

Rhode Island's Solar Tax Credits grade

There are no tax credits for solar in Rhode Island, but don't fret. Some of you may remember the personal tax credit that used to be available for residential solar power systems. That tax credit was allowed to expire without extension, but the state has elected to subsidize solar power with a feed-in-tariff (fixed, long-term contract to buy your power). It's not how all states do it, but it looks like it's gonna work out just fine.

Learn more about state solar tax credits

Rhode Island Solar Performance Payments


Grade: A

Rhode Island's Solar Performance Payments grade

Rhode Island has an amazing performance payment program, which started in 2015. Called the Renewable Energy Growth Program, it succeeds (where a previous program failed) by offering direct incentive payments for small scale solar projects (up to 25 kW).

Aiming to install 3 MW of small scale solar per year for the first four years, this program means business, and it puts money in your pocket if you own solar. The program pays solar energy producers 37.75 cents for every kilowatt-hour their panels send to the grid, for 20 years.

A long-term price for your electricity generation is a dream come true for solar owners. You're guaranteed to get paid this amount, so if your system produces to its capacity (which is virtually guaranteed, since the panel warranty extends for 25 years), you'll end up getting paid $12,735 over the 20-year contract term.

That. Is. Huge.

Learn more about SRECs

Property Tax Exemption

Same as standard

Grade: A

Rhode Island's Solar Property Tax Exemptions grade

Thankfully there are tax exemptions for solar power here. When you install a solar power system, your home goes up in value by quite a bit (we’ll get to how much in just a minute). No one should ever be penalized for converting to renewable energy, a sentiment with which the Rhode Island legislature agrees. That’s why they passed a property tax law ensuring that your solar power system will never be assessed at any higher value than the equivalent standard, non-renewable energy production system. That means all that increase in value you get from a solar power system over a conventional system stays with you and not with the state tax collectors.

Sales Tax Exemption


Grade: A

Rhode Island's Solar Sales Tax Exemption grade

Those shiny new solar panels are also 100% exempt from all sales and use taxes when you purchase and install them.

Learn more about tax exemptions for solar

The consensus on Rhode Island solar power rebates and incentives

Solar policy has been strong in Rhode Island for some time now, with robust incentives that can lead to great financial returns for you home solar investment. How much you can save depends on a number of factors—especially your roof and ability to claim the tax credit.

Luckily, though, as a Rhode Island resident, you live in a state that will back up your desire to do right by your pocketbook and the planet with some solid solar policymaking. If you’re ready to see how much you can save with solar in Rhode Island, compare quotes for home solar now.

Leave a Reply

18 Comment threads
4 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
19 Comment authors
AaronJOSEPH KEILBACHJohnBen ZientaraCA Recent comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Notify of

as of 2019 the REF and REG cannot be combined. You can only choose one, either get the $/W installed, or $/kWh for 20 years. Not both.


Your download bar produced only the first chapter. The interesting info appears to be in later chapters. How can I get them?


RI has a new program called RI-RE-growth: Beginning June 15, 2015, Applicants may enroll via an interconnection application. The interconnection process is supposed to be simplified, although it still looks complicated to me. Depending on the term, project size, and other factors, National Grid will pay from 29.8¢ to 41.35¢ per kilowatt-hour for solar generation in a PerformanceBased Incentive (PBI). One problem I still have with most incentive programs is the restriction that homeowners should not produce more electricity than they use. What is confusing to me is how can NG pay the producer/consumer/customer 37c/kwh when your… Read more »


At the top of the page it says RI allows for solar leasing. At the bottom of the page, it says RI doesn’t.

Ben Zientara

Good catch, CA! Rhode Island changed in 2015. We’ll have the updated page ready in September.

Edgar Goulet
Edgar Goulet

In 2005 I signed up for those incentives that were to pay 4.50 a watt back to the home owner with a 6000 watt limit for homes. I was 14th on that list when I ordered a 6080 watt system which would have pad me only for the 6000 which was 27,000 dollars I would have gotten back. I had to have a system ordered to get lock in so I took out a 40,000 dollar loan and ordered that System from solartron technology based in California. I was in the process of in staling it myself when I was… Read more »


I am a newbie here but appreciate your input and comments greatly. Contemplating a move from MA to RI and constructing home with solar but may wait a few years or stay in MA. Come on RI let’s get on board and reward the efforts of homeowner that should live as GREEN as possible>

Deep Sea Driller
Deep Sea Driller

To Paddymcc, it was Transocean and BP that had the blowout in the US Gulf of Mexico. The lawsuit will be in New Orleans Federal Court starting Feb 2012..there’s nearly $40-60 billion at stake to be paid to plaintiffs and fines to the US govt. Ok, where’s my soapbox… RI is a joke regarding green power. It’s all a dog and pony show regarding the new tarrif laws passed last month..they only benifit large commercial projects, once again “the corporations rule”. (what would you expect from a republican governor?) We put 4.6 kW Pv array on a new garage I… Read more »

the party doesn't matter
the party doesn't matter

There are the same problems now and the republican governor is gone guess it wasn’t him. The same people are in Rhode Island house and senate they might be the real problem. Who care about what party they all suck. RI will never change unless we get rid of all the fat.

So you have had you system for a while now are you still getting the same output.


I’ve looked into Solar for my house, but the lack of tax credits here makes the install costs prohibitive. According to the this site, Rhode Island ranks the same as California. I’d say that’s way, way off the mark. I wonder if there are community groups that can get together to “buy in bulk” for whole neighborhoods, thus dramatically cutting costs. I heard about a neighborhood association on the West Side doing something like this?

Michael Johnson
Michael Johnson

RI lost its 25% tax credit in 2011. The good rating should be dropped to Poor at this piont.


Solar Power Rocks is a Wave Solar company

Wave Solar Logo