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Welcome to the Ultimate Guide to Solar Panels in Washington

This page is a complete guide to the complicated and sometimes confusing process of installing solar panels on your Washington 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!

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** What's new for 2020 **

Governor Jay Inslee needs some introductory theme music for this page. It should be snappy, hot, and full of swagger. In 2019, he helped lead a coalition of smart solar policy warriors to finally get the new solar law enacted they’ve wanted for ages. That law, The Solar Fairness Act, expanded net metering and re-introduced a sales tax exemption for solar. Despite a relatively muted financial picture for home solar, all that support from the legislature adds up to a big jump in our stat-by-state solar power rankings.

Read on to get detailed information on what that law means for your pocketbook if you're considering and investment in solar energy for your Washington home.

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 $3,500/kW! This is paired with the Washington solar incentives you see below.

What you'll find on this page:

The Solar Strategy section is focused on the 3 ways of paying for solar in Washington, 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 Washington. 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 Washington.

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

Generate an accurate online solar estimate for your home

Your Solar Strategy in Washington

Figuring out the best way to go solar in Washington 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 Washington

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. Here's the thing about Washington: the state makes up for its low electricity prices and relative lack of sun with a pretty nice per-kilowatt-hour solar payment as an incentive to people who own panels. Furthermore, prices for solar have fallen dramatically over the past decade or so, and even Washington's low electricity prices can't keep it down.

Now as for that complicated chart above... let's break it down a little:

The green bars show solar's financial return over 25 years if you pay up front. Now, solar panels almost always last longer than 25 years, but that number is the end of typical solar warranties, so we base our estimates on the most conservative definition of solar panel life.

As you can see, there's a big payment (negative) in year 1, which gets slowly reduced over time. The green bars cross the "$0" line at year 16, which is when the system will have paid back your initial investment with electricity savings. Our example goes to year 25, which is when most solar panel warranties end, and in Washington, you'll end up with just about $9,000 in total profits by that date. That's pretty good!

The orange bars, on the other hand, show what happens if you take a Home-Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) to pay for the system. You don't put any money down, but you do get the 30% Federal solar tax credit, meaning you actually come out ahead in year 1. Money in your pocket now! The bars dip below the $0 line after 7 years, because your loan payments (over a 15-year term) will exceed your energy savings each year. By kind of a lot. Once you pay off the loan in 2030, the savings start stacking up. But over our 25-year estimate, it will basically mean you break even on your solar investment.

Finally, the blue bars represent a similar HELOC option, but for a smaller, 2-kW solar system. This size system is great if you only have a little equity, and it still lets you break even over the long term, while reducing the amount of CO2 pollution you're responsible for. The loan size is smaller, and so are the first-year windfall and final profits, but if you love the idea of solar and haven't got piles of cash or equity, this is a great way to go.

Read on to find out more about each option!

How much can solar panels on roof save you?

Option 1: Paying cash for solar

Paying up front used to be the only way to get panels on your roof, and it's still the option that allows you the most control. An outright purchase returns the most money over time, because you own the system from day one and reap all the benefits—the Federal solar tax credit of 30% of system costs and some decent energy bill savings.

In our example, you put down $18,750, but by the end of year 1, that tax credit and the energy savings will erase a bunch of it. Over 25 years, your system will have produced about $9,000 in income.

Here’s an example of how the numbers work for a purchase of a 5-kW rooftop solar system in Washington:

  • Installing a typical 5-kW solar system should start at about $18,750.
  • The Feds offer a tax credit of 30% of out-of-pocket costs, so you'll get $5,625 back next April. Note: you can take the credit over two years if you don't owe $5,625 in Federal taxes this year.
  • Then there's your first-year energy savings. That's another $474 and it brings the cost after 1 year to $12,651.
  • But wait, Washington also wants to pay you for making clean energy! The state offers what are called "performance payments" for every kilowatt-hour (kWh) your system produces. The minimum payment is $0.15/kWh, which equals another $790 off your costs, bringing the year-1 total to just $11,861. The best part is those payments continue through June of 2020!
  • With the energy bill savings and Washington's payments, your system will pay itself back after 16 years. Once that happens, you’ll be seeing over $800 per year in savings until the end of your system’s life.
  • When all is said and done, our 25-year estimate shows a total net profit of $8,885 with an internal rate of return of 5.2%. That's not quite the return of a stock market index fund over 25 years, but it's a solid investment if you're looking to save money and the planet at the same time.
  • On top of those returns, your home's value just increased by $9,477, too (your expected electricity savings over 20 years)!
  • And speaking of doing good for the environment... your system will create some green for the earth by not using electricity from fossil-fuels. In fact, the energy you’re not using has the carbon equivalent of planting 95 trees a year, every year your solar power system is humming.
Keep in mind, the numbers above are based on an average home in Washington. 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

This is usually where we tell you that taking a loan for solar panels is a no-brainer, because it means investing in an income-generating asset. But even though Washington offers some decent solar incentives, the electricity costs here are so low that a 25-year investment in solar will basically break even. That's good news if you're an environmental-minded person with some equity and a willingness to be in your home for at least 15 years, but it might not be right for everyone. Read on to dee if you fit the bill!

Here's how a solar loan works in Washington:

As you can see from the chart above, you'll start out with a big windfall, because with a loan, you're not putting any money down, and you get the 30% federal solar tax credit just like if you paid $18,750 up front for your system. You'll come out ahead over $5,109 after the first year! In the 14 years that follow, your loan payments will cost quite a bit more than the money you'll be saving in electricity, but just think of it like a monthly deposit into a savings account.

The rest of our estimate might look like a see-saw, because you start out with a windfall, drop down into "sizeable investment" territory, and then slowly gain after the loan is paid off. After 15 years of payments, you will have invested about $8,400 of your own money. Once the loan's paid off, you get all the energy savings with no more payments, and the solar "savings account" will pay dividends. If our prediction of 3.5% annual increases in energy costs hold, you'll end up $946 to the good at the end of 25 years, which is not too bad if you consider you start the loan out by saving over 5 grand in a year.

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 $18,750 with a fixed rate of 5% or lower and a 15-year repayment period (lower rates and shorter repayment increases your profit).
  • You have an appetite for basically breaking even on a long-term investment, while also producing a ton of benefits for the environment.

Here’s how the numbers pencil out for a Washington solar purchase with a HELOC:

  • Installing a typical 5-kW solar system should start at about $18,750. That's how big your loan will need to be to cover it.
  • The electricity bill savings in the first year of operation will total $474, but your loan payments will be $1,779, for a difference of $1,305, or about $109 per month.
  • But here comes the tax credit! Because you've technically "paid" for the system with your loan, you'll get the Federal tax credit of 30% of system costs, or $5,625!
  • On top of that, Washington will pay you extra for the energy produced by your panels. The state's $0.15/kWh will earn you an estimated $790 in the first year!
  • With all those savings, you'll end up with an extra $4,851 at the end of the first year—even after you make those loan payments.
  • After your loan’s paid off in year 15, you’ll see over $800 per year in savings until the end of your system’s life.
  • For our 25-year estimate, you'll see some a minor return, to the tune of $946 after all the payments.
  • Finally, the environmental benefits cannot be overstated. Operating your system will take as much carbon out of the air as planting 95 trees every year!
Keep in mind, the numbers above are based on an average home in Washington. 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)

Washington does not offer solar Power Purchase Agreements or leases. Perhaps it would be a good idea to contact a solar advocacy organization and ask them to fight for solar in your state!

Calculate solar panel cost and savings for your specific home

Washington 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 Washington:

Washington's Renewable Portfolio Standard

15% by 2020

Grade: C

Washington'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.

In 2006, Washington became the second state in the nation to pass a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), mandating that 15% of utilities’ electricity production must come from renewable resources by 2020. The 15% standard will be phased-in over 3 targets: 3% of production from renewable resources by 1/1/2012, 9% by 1/1/2016, and finally 15% by 1/1/2020.

Washington deserves some credit for being the second state behind Colorado to pass an RPS of any kind -- but not that much credit. That 15% mark falls on the lower end of the spectrum and needs to be pushed to 30%, even 40% in the years after 2020 to be at parity with more aggressive standards set across the country.

Washington’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

Washington's Solar carve-out and SRECs


Grade: F

Washington's Solar Carve-out grade

Washington’s RPS also lacks any mention of a solar carve out. If the RPS contained specific carve-outs for clean and efficient technologies like solar panels, you’d see even stronger incentives for residential solar power.

Learn more about Solar Carve-outs

Washington Electricity Prices


Grade: D

Washington's Electricity cost grade

Welcome to the lowest electricity prices in the country! With all those rushing rivers, Washington gets the bulk of its electric power from hydroelectric dams and generators, and Washingtonians pay an average of just 9 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity. That's great news for people who like low electric bills, but not-so-good news for people who want to go solar.

That's because the main financial benefit from solar is reduced energy costs. It's a huge deal in a place like New York, where people pay over $0.20/kWh, but doesn't have the same effect in Washington. The less-tangible value of solar is the benefits it has for the environment. That's why it's a good thing Washington offers solar performance payments to turn a little of that environmental benefit into cash.

Find out why electricity prices matter

Washington Net Metering

Statewide with caveats

Grade: B

Washington's Net Metering grade

In 2019, Washington expanded its net metering requirements eightfold. This change should give the solar industry some much needed stability.

The best net metering laws make sure that you get the value of every kilowatt-hour (kWh) of surplus you produce – either in credit to future bills or, if you consistently run a surplus, in cash payments at the end of a regular accounting period.

In Washington however, any net surplus you have accumulated and not used as a bill credit are forfeited to the utility on March 31st of each year, without compensation. Don’t fret! This just requires a little more planning to make sure you don’t install more solar power capacity than you will use each year.

The expert local installers we partner with can help guide you through this planning and a whole lot more. Besides, even if you produce a tad too much energy one year, you are still eligible for the state REC payments, even with net metering.

Learn more about net metering

Washington Interconnection Rules

Statewide with caveats

Grade: B

Washington's Interconnection Standards grade

Net metering is solid in Washington, if not spectacular. Sadly, interconnection is not solid at all; unless by solid you mean hard, and by hard you mean difficult, as in difficult to connect to the grid simply and cheaply.

Now, we don’t want to get carried away. Utilities may not require net-metered customers to comply with safety and performance standards not required by the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (WUTC) or, or to purchase additional liability insurance. So it’s not the worst interconnection we’ve seen … but it’s close.

Redundant external disconnect switches are generally required, customers are responsible for providing too much of the connection equipment, and the performance standards that the WUTC itself mandates — the National Electric Code, National Electric Safety Code, and standards from the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers and the privately owned Underwriters Laboratories – could be made less onerous.

Learn more about solar interconnection rules

Washington Solar Incentives

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 26% 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 Washington 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.

Washington Solar Power Rebates

$300/kW - Snohomish County only

Grade: D

Washington's Solar Rebates grade

There are no statewide rebates available to Washington residents, because the state has chosen instead to incetivize solar adoption through its performance payments program. Still, the vast majority of Washington residents aren’t getting any help with installation costs at all. We thought you were pro-environment, Washington. C’mon.

But there is one place where the local utility has gone above and beyond to offer some decent cash back—on top of the state payments! Homeowners served by Snohomish County PUD (in Washington’s third largest county) are eligible to receive a rebate on the price of solar installation at a rate of $300 per kilowatt installed, up to a maximum rebate of $2,000. That isn't a huge amount of money, but knocking a cool thousand off the day-1 price of a 5-kW system is nothing to sneeze at.

So if you're in Snohomish county, good for you! If not... sorry for you.

Learn more about solar rebates

Washington Solar Tax Credits

No State Income Tax

Grade: C

Washington's Solar Tax Credits grade

Since Washington State doesn’t have any income tax, there aren’t any solar tax credits to redeem! Luckily, you will still benefit from the Federal Solar Tax Credit. There's no cap on the federal tax credit and fortunately for Washington, having no state rebate to deduct means a larger tax credit coming your way.

Learn more about state solar tax credits

Property Tax Exemption


Grade: F

Washington's Solar Property Tax Exemptions grade

Tax exemptions are a simple, straightforward, and effective way to promote solar power. A property tax exemption would exempt you from paying taxes on the more than $8,000 in property value that installing a solar power system will add to your home -- all without ever actually removing a dime from the state’s bank account! That sounds like a win-win to us. Unfortunately, state lawmakers have yet to see the light (no pun intended), leaving Washington with no property tax exemption.

Sales Tax Exemption


Grade: A

Washington's Solar Sales Tax Exemption grade

In 2019, Washington restarted its 100% sales tax exemption on all equipment, all labor, and all services related to the installation of that equipment from all sales and use taxes on home solar systems up to 10kW. As the sales tax in Washington is currently 9%, that’s nothing to sneeze at when purchasing equipment that costs twenty to thirty thousand dollars. We’d love to see that 10kW maximum bumped up, but otherwise, that’s a model law right there. No twists, no tricks, just savings for smart solar energy.

Learn more about tax exemptions for solar

Low-income Solar Programs


Grade: F

Washington's Solar Sales Tax Exemption grade Learn more about low-income solar programs available in the U.S.

The consensus on Washington solar power rebates and incentives

The world of Washington solar policy is brightening. There aren’t any solar rebates, tax credits, or property tax exemptions, and there are low electricity rates, poor interconnection, mediocre net metering. But even with a requirement to purchase expensive Washington-made equipment to take full advantage, Washington’s REC payments can chop your solar payback timeframe to a very reasonable 6-year time period. This one weird trick to get a good return on your solar investment isn’t enough, however and earns Washington a middling “C” grade.

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!

80 thoughts on “2020 Washington Solar Incentives, Rebates, and Tax Credits

  1. Avatar for senior in wa state senior in wa state says:

    Do you have any outdated solar panels that you regularly dispose of etc? i am a low income senior looking to acquire a few free ones. I can come pick up. please advise. ty. Ph: (Three Six Oh – Three Twenty-nine – Twenty-five ninety-three)

  2. Avatar for steve steve says:

    if the government really want to help people with solar they would give government loans at 1 or 2 percent interest for 15 years.banks cost a lot to go through.

  3. Avatar for Eric Eric says:

    I have been reading about solar farming in other states as a profitable business. Is washington state a place where I can make cash farming solar power?

  4. Avatar for Tom Tom says:

    A fallacy I see in paying the cost upfront is this: it doesn’t take into account the “opportunity cost” of the investment. In other words, you put up $15,000 for a panel system, which means that you now no longer are able to invest that money somewhere else. You therefore lose those investment profits. It is the norm in investment analysis to include this in an economic analysis. The loan option, which is a break even option, would seem to more accurately reflect the total true cost. I’m all in favor of solar power, but now I am not convinced it makes economic sense. It certainly makes carbon footprint sense, and that might be enough for many people to go with it.

    1. Avatar for Ben Zientara Ben Zientara says:

      Thanks for your feedback, Tom. We’re actually planning to include an NPV calculation for each state in our next release of the annual State Solar Power Rankings report. The NPV will be included on each state page, and will factor in the opportunity cost.

      That said, the measure we use, Internal Rate of Return (IRR) basically tells the reader that a solar investment is a good one if the IRR for that investment exceeds their own opportunity cost. For example, here in Washington, a 5-kW solar investment has an IRR of 5.2%. Since the traditional long-term return of the stock market is about 8%, a solar investment in Washington may not be as good (though if you read the comments below, you’ll see that an investment in Washington-made panels pays itself back a lot faster, and will have a higher IRR).

  5. Avatar for RG RG says:

    Update your W-4 and claim at least 2 or 3 exemptions so that one can use up all of their Federal Tax Credits in 2016. Otherwise they leave FTC $$ on the table. I’d heard that the FTC was going to be extended by a few years? Any truth to that / updates? Thanks

  6. Avatar for Jeff Jeff says:

    President Roosevelt’s New Deal allocated over 1.6 billion for Grand Coulee’s Dam project. For those that say that solar should stand on its own without public “seed” money are ignorant of what it takes to get an emerging technology off the ground. Do you really think we would have the lowest cost electricity in the nation if it were not for the upfront costs being paid by us (our government)?

  7. Avatar for Click Click says:

    Snohomish PUD (covering the area north of Seattle) has advised solar providers that REC payments will be cut beginning in 2016. The cap dollar amount will be allocated pro-rata among all SnoPUD customers each year. Based on ongoing (2015) and planned solar installations (2016 & 2017 per SnoPUI would figure the amount going down by 50% each successive year.D). Take this significant change into account when you do your payback projections.

    1. Avatar for Ben Zientara Ben Zientara says:

      Thanks, Click! Hitting the goal number is definitely good news! Unless you banked on that return… Anyway, looks like people will likely keep installing in Snohomish county and the pie will have to be split among a few more mouths than initially planned. Let’s get some legislative action in Washington to expand the performance payment program!

  8. Avatar for Steve Steve says:

    Less than a month after my system was turned on (I hadn’t even received my first post-solar bill yet), Puget Sound Energy sent a letter to all of their renewable customers. They anticipated reaching the $10 million cap in incentive payouts, and thus they were lowering the base rate from 15 cents per kWh to 12 cents per kWh, effective retroactively to the start of the incentive year (July 1st). I got 5 solar quotes before choosing an installer and not one mentioned that there was any per-utility cap on the incentive, never mind that reaching said cap was imminent.

  9. Avatar for Click Click says:

    You need to warn readers that the FEC of 30% is 1) Non-refundable and 2) can’t be carried forward after tax year 2016. These are both important considerations for 2015 installations. Since the FEC is not refundable it is of no value unless it can be used to cover a tax liability. So unless you have a tax liability approximating the anticipated FEC, the FEC solar credit is worthless.

  10. Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

    Above you state: “All that cheap electricity is produced by burning fossil fuels — tons and tons of earth-killing fossil fuels.”. This is not true in Washington. Most of our electricity comes from hydro generation on the Columbia river. While this has other issues (e.g., blocks fish spawning), it is not using carbon based fuels that you claim.

  11. Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

    I did an owner installed 10K solar array on my home in Olympia, wa. and the biggest problem was finding the panels amd inverters to use. I have 23 Itec panels faceing west and 16 faceing south. I used enphase 250 watt micro inverters I did all the layout, and installation by myself. All the equipment was purchesed over the internet. I used microinverters because they are more forgiving of angles,different elevations, and shadows. I also felt that a string inverter was not suitable for an in town system due to trees and other obstructions. The permit was a snap to obtain and the inspector helped me as did PSE. The system works flawlessly and I am happy with it. I am not an electrician so I used home depo electrical dept. as my sounding board for questions.

  12. Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

    What about different types of solar? There are a bunch of devices that make heat into electricity, does anyone know of a good one? Everything I have seen is experimental still.

    1. Avatar for Bill Rowling Bill Rowling says:

      I invented and installed 3 solar evacuated tube heaters on 2 of my houses. Are there incentives for off grid solar heaters?

  13. Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

    I do not believe Washington has what you call a Renewable Energy Credit (REC) program. There does exist an incentive which is called the Renewable Energy Cost Recocvery Incentive Payment Program. Under this program, you could get the $0.54 per kwh, but it all depends on whether your utility company chooses to participate in the program. If they don’t, you are SOL. I just had a 4kw system installed and was hoping the incentive would help pay it off in about 6 years. But now my PUD has informed me that they haven’t decided if they will participate in this program. If they don’t, it will take me 40 years to pay off my system, and that’s only if I go off grid. So please inform your readers that this incentive is not guaranteed.

  14. Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

    Don’t get confused between the Production incentive that Washington State pays and the Net Metering the serving utility pays. The Production meter measures all of the power the solar system generates. The $.54 per kWh applies to the Production meter only. The Net meter is the main residential meter that connects the utility grid to the customers residence. Only excess power that is not used in the residence goes out onto the grid. This Net meter has two display registers one being the kWh’s delivered from the utility and the other register is the kWh’s recieved back into the grid. The utility subtracts the recieved from the delivered and the customer is billed the NET or difference. Any credits are zeroed out on May 1st each year.

  15. Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

    I live in Washington State, am completely off the grid. Have everything in the house energy compliant and use energy than a 100 watt bulb daily. It’s not about rebates, its about you reducing your carbon foot print. My solar array, albeit expensive and non-tax deductible in Washington State, the land of no State income taxes, it is about generating sustainable energy using alternatives to fossil fuel.

  16. Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

    P.S. You get paid for every KWH generated, even if you use it yourself, so the value of your solar is $0.62 cents per kWh through 2020

  17. Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

    Your treatment of the Washington Cost Recovery Incentive is way off base. Sloppy homework. It is not paid just for the first year, it is paid through the year 2020 currently. Your system costs are too high. Credit Unions are financing in WA ZERO DOWN, 15 year loans at 4.5 % interest.

    1. Avatar for Dan Hahn Dan Hahn says:

      We fixed a lot of these calculations! Thanks for your feedback.

  18. Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

    Im trying to buy a solar system for a farm in wash. state . Im able to buy batteries cheaper here than in another state.How do i get the states exemptionon sales tax .

  19. Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

    The number you quote for a 5kW system is way too high. I just had 3 quotes and the highest was $18,750.

  20. Avatar for Make Money Online Is Every Person Make Money Online Is Every Person's Dream says:

    Excellent blog right here! Also your web site so much up very fast! What host are you the usage of? Can I get your associate link on your host? I desire my website loaded up as quickly as yours lol

  21. Avatar for Carbon Killer Carbon Killer says:

    FORGET the rebates (excpet mfg.) & Tax Incentives – let Solar stand on it’s own! If it’s NOT economically viable without all the TAX PAYER assistance, then you shouldn’t be purchasing and installing it. A tax payer should NOT BE FORCED to pay so somebody else can feel good!

  22. Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

    Dave and Dan,

    I just emailed you, but wanted to post a reply as well. What an AMAZING site you have!! Along with a dedicated group of 8-10 friends and former co-workers, I am starting up a nationwide renewable energy solutions business. But truthfully, we need help on so many levels! Everything from working capital, finding the most cost effective suppliers, getting the necessary renewable energy training, and the list goes on and on…all while each of us must keep working our “day jobs”, much like you guys have done. HELP! (smile) No, seriously… HELP!

    P.S. Just a heads up..The “name” field wouldn’t accept my name when leaving my reply.


  23. Avatar for Patrick Patrick says:

    I just want to be clear on how the net metering is calculated. Lets say I produce 1000 kwh in one year from my panels. I use 1000 kwh (these may be unrealistic numbers but bear with me). Do I get paid 1000*.54 (washington panels and inverter) = $540, or do I simply pay nothing to the electric company? If the latter is true, the net cash benefit would only be 1000*.08 = $80.

    1. Avatar for Dave Llorens Dave Llorens says:

      It’s different everywhere, but basically it usually works like roll-over minutes. If you generate 1000kWh, and you use 1000kWh, you are credited for that and owe nothing (but you don’t get any money). Think of it as credit against the grid.

      Where it gets complicated is with time-of-use rates where you are generating at a higher retail rate than night-time electricity (it’s a good thing, just complicated)

  24. Avatar for Ryan Ryan says:

    I really have an issues with the tone of this article when it is discussing the low cost of power in Washington State. Claiming the rates are low due to “fossil fuel-backed electricity rates” is just ignorant. The state has ONE coal plant and only 12 Natural Gas plants worth mentioning. Washington State rates are low due to the largest hydroelectric power system in the nation. In 2011, Washington State was the leading producer of electricity from hydroelectric sources and produced 29 percent of the Nation’s net electricity generation. To go on about the “artificially cheap” electric rates due to fossil fuels and to not even make a single mention of hydroelectric is very misleading.

    On all other counts, I completely agree. Washington State needs to do more for people that want solar. I happen to live in Eastern Washington which is far from the ‘Evergreen State’ most people think Washington is and we get a lot of sunlight. I would love to harness that light for my own house but could never afford the initial costs. As a side note, commercial solar would not be as viable here due to high wind (creating large dust storms) and other factors. Commercial wind production is a booming industry here though and while not as staggering as hydroelectric, Washington State placed 6th in the nation for wind power production in 2011.

    1. Avatar for Dan Hahn Dan Hahn says:


      Your points are well stated and well taken. There indeed should be more mention of hydropower in Washington in our review. Hydro plants, while significantly a better option than coal or nuclear, disrupt fragile ecosystems – even with fish gates open.

      We’re all too familiar with these issues in Oregon for example, as there have been strong calls to tear some of the larger dams down in favor of preserving the essence of what used to be.

      Regardless, the price of electricity in Washington is low. Hydro indeed is a big reason for that. While nobody likes higher electric prices, we think it’d be best to switch over more to a solar/wind combination.

  25. Avatar for Eric Eric says:

    This whole thing smells bad to me. I can buy as many quality solar panels as I want right now in Arizona or Florida for less than $1/watt. Grid tied systems are overrated and anyone can put together their own 5kw or larger system including batteries for a small fraction of the cost of buying into arcane, unreliable and wasteful government social engineering projects. The rules will change as time goes on and budgets get cut so why not cut the cord and install your own stand alone system and enjoy the benefits of a glut of solar panels on the market today. If you inform government that you are willing to jump through hoops then there will never be an end to it. As far as government is concerned it is always better to say you are sorry than to ask permission. Save your money, buy your system, educate yourself, install your system and invite all the parasites to prey on others. If your location makes this difficult you need to relocate to the country.

  26. Avatar for Mike Mike says:

    In your financial analysis, you calculate the Washington Power production payment before applying the federal tax credit. This would be correct if it was an additional rebate. it is not. and the State Department of Revenue will not file the transaction with the IRS. The 30 percent tax credit is applied to the full cost of the system. It will alter your calculations significantly

  27. Avatar for Casey Cady Casey Cady says:

    Oh, and as far as the cheap electricity, almost 90% of Seattle’s electricity comes from Hydroelectric (See ). That’s why it is so cheap (and non-fossil fuel powered, for the most part). Unfortunately, the story isn’t all good, as the hydroelectric dams have a pretty harsh impact on fish. There are things being done to mitigate the impact, but it is still only so good.

    1. Avatar for Dan Hahn Dan Hahn says:

      Thanks Casey! That’s very helpful info we’ve incorporated into the page!

  28. Avatar for Casey Cady Casey Cady says:

    With regards to Washington’s lack of a tax credit, to be fair, Washington State doesn’t have any income tax so there wouldn’t be any tax credits to give. The sales tax exemption is the best equivalent you could do in the state, and at over 9%, is significant.

  29. Avatar for Doug Craig Doug Craig says:

    I have a 5000 sqft flat roof commercial building. I was wonering how realistic it would be to cover the roof w/ PV, power the building (office and warehouse) and sell excess power back to the utility (seattle city light). I notice the energy credit is annual and has a limit. The utility gets to keep the extra power generated, past this credit. Monopoly on electrical power generation ?

  30. Avatar for roofing roofing says:

    Thanks , I have just been looking for info about this subject for a long time and yours is the greatest I’ve found out so far. But, what in regards to the bottom line? Are you certain in regards to the source?|What i do not realize is in fact how you are no longer actually much more smartly-appreciated than you might be right now. You are very intelligent.

  31. Avatar for Darrick Darrick says:

    The PROBLEM with enforcing solar energy in washington is you are literally betting on the kid with the compound fracture to win the race. Washington state west of the mountains averages only 3.65 (average over a year) full hour of full sunlight a day. This include cloudy days in which your solar panel is a little less than 80% effective. This makes your god forsakenly expensive system just above worthless. So they are focusing East of the Cascade obviously and that is a minority of the population. So why are we not focusing on macro hydro electric. There are systems with a minimal foot print of effect. So why are we betting on that kid again? This subsidy needs to be split so the money won’t be wasted and help susidize these systems that can make a major difference with minimal long range transmission losses, which average around 6% for long range transmission.

  32. Avatar for Ryan Ryan says:

    we had a 4.2 kw PV system installed on our roof in Yakima; Jared of Yakima Solar lives about 2 miles from us in Yakima and installed the system; the Washington made panels combined with the rate increases of Pacific Power mean we’ll have the price of the system paid back in 8 years. We’re running 100 kwh over predicted for April and the days are only getting longer. We’re adding solar water this Spring and the combo will cut our grid use by 50-60%

  33. Avatar for william ebrecht william ebrecht says:

    Getting the whole project completed needs the assistance of professionals. I welcome the availability of and funding for installation. By the way are there any panel producers in WA?

  34. Avatar for Mike Mike says:

    What is the smallest kW system that qualifies for the Washington State incentive.

  35. Avatar for suncat suncat says:

    1,Does anyone have any experience:
    *with PV or tube panels mounted on a metal roof? Such as:
    *difficulty for washing the slippery, steep roof?
    *who can give me recommendations/warnings about installers from actual installed metal roofs(no sales people, please)
    2. After the jolly sales person comes out to the site, what it the common cost for an actual bid?
    3. How steep does a roof in Seattle need to be to take the problem of heavy snow accumulation out of consideration?
    4. Any bonded contractors to recommend who have managed coordination between roof and solar panel installers?

  36. Avatar for Bob Doyle Bob Doyle says:

    Hi Ian,

    Silicon Energy in Marysville produces panels and an approved inverter. Another inverter manufacturer is Outback.

  37. Avatar for Ian Ian says:

    Anybody know anything about local Washington companies that manufacture or design such products, solar panels, controllers, inverters and the like?

  38. Avatar for Connie Connie says:

    It is a wonderful thing that people are taking Solar and wind power into their own hand for personal use and contribution to the grid. Although starting out just providing for your own home is a great thing, it could be so much better if you were making more to put into the grid. Some states like Nevada have now made it illegal for HOA’s to say no to Solar packages being put up by individuals. The power company also buys the extra power produced with no hassle. My folks just put in a 10 kw system costing $52K. The state and other incentives knocked that down to a $23K. As for that extra power that is made. Somewhere across the USA they need it. What a wonderful thing it could be if different areas of the country could be helping each other in a total grid system. Let’s hope Washington DC pushes regulations that say all extra will be bought up from individual producers to help us all out.

  39. Avatar for amy amy says:

    I have solar on my house in Olympia. It is worth it! While, I didn’t do it for the money, that is nice. It is preforming better than we expected. South Sound Solar was who we went through and we were really happy. It was an investment, but we would have done it without the payback. I think the idea of payback is actaully hurting the green movement. My house doesn’t pay me back. My car doesn’t pay me back. My clothes, kitchen, tv…nothing pays you back like a solar system. So people hear about the “10 years to get your money back” it’s a turn off. It shouldn’t be about the money.

    1. Avatar for Dan Hahn Dan Hahn says:


      You are absolutely correct! It shouldn’t be about “payback”. However many people make “sense” of solar on their roofs simply by looking at the dollars they’ll recoup down the road. It’s about the environment, it’s about sending a positive message to future generations, it’s about being responsible, it’s about conserving energy, it’s about contributing to a clean, growing, vibrant economy. A lot of people who go solar don’t think hard and clearly about all these things until they actually see the panels up on their own roofs and reflect on the warm fuzzy feeling about doing something RIGHT.

  40. Avatar for Jordan Jordan says:

    In reference to Ken’s Question:

    Are there companies that manufacture inverters now in WA.?

    Just recently, Silicon Energy released a 5kW strictly grid-tied inverter. These inverters significantly lower the upfront cost of installing a grid-tied solar electric system. The inverters also have the unique feature of having 2 separate inputs for MPPT tracking. That means you can have two strings at different orientations/and or pitches.

    Outback Power also has a grid-tied with battery back-up inverter but the cost is quite a bit higher.

    Has anybody installed a system on a tracker to take maximum advantage of the WA production incentive?

  41. Avatar for Beacon Plumbing Beacon Plumbing says:

    The tax credit is awesome. I think that it will become standard to have eco friendly water heaters. Its just a matter of getting the crowd moving towards that. What better to do it than to pay them ?

  42. Avatar for Mike Mike says:

    To Quote you back at you…..
    “But Whoa, Not So Fast!
    Well Sam, I’m here to say, 1) not so fast and 2) who are you crapping? “….

    What you presented was NOT an original quote from Erik Paulson, as you suggest, so keep your facts and your flaming separated.

    It was a Quote from Denis Hayes (founder of Earth Day, second director of NREL, and head of the Bullit Foundation. It was an article in SolarBuzz (a factual source of solar information, not a personal screed) and it was back in 2006. A lot of water under the bridge since then. Nowhere in America did we have anything resembling a feed-in tariff. THIS WAS THE FIRST OF ITS KIND IN THE US. The reality is that Erik was the prime sponsor of the bill and the prime sponsor of the second net metering bill in the nation. No wonder solar is so slow to advance when we crap on anyone that takes a lead. Maybe you should edit out old personal attacks and work with facts.

  43. Avatar for Joseph Condron Joseph Condron says:

    I think being paid for creating surplus energy is a great idea. It should encourage more people to try alternative means for obtaining their energy requirements.

  44. Avatar for Ron Disch Ron Disch says:

    This has got to be the best Solar info site I have been to. Answers a lot of questions and gives good valuable info. For someone like I who is going to install their own system, this is a must or for the owner that is contracting out.
    Thanks again

    (Centerville WA)

  45. Avatar for Ken Sugarman Ken Sugarman says:

    I believe there is an installer called Seraphim in the Goldendale area; they may be from the Dalles now. They were bought by Hires in the Dalles.

  46. Avatar for Sam Harriman Sam Harriman says:

    Norma Geane,
    This is a blog for grid-tied solar. If your off-grid, and within a 100 mile radius of Portland, OR you might find help here

  47. Avatar for Sam Harriman Sam Harriman says:

    Norma Geane,
    As I already mentioned. I don’t know of any contractors right in Goldendale. You might check for greenerGetic individuals with reliable transportation in the Portland area.


    I live in Goldendale WA. We live off the grid. Power cost to much to run to our residents. We have two 165 watt solar pannels and a Air X 400 watt working now. We also have a Whisper 200 we want to install. Where can we get help to finish installing our system, It seems most information is for grid tried systems only. Got any ideas. Thank you

  49. Avatar for Sam Harriman Sam Harriman says:

    I’m not sure about educational resources on solar in the Goldendale area specifically. But I highly recommend John Schaeffer’s Solar Living Sourcebook as an excellent general reference for anyone interested in building their home as green as possible. Also, Chris Herman at winter sun design ( ) is a good green building consultant that I know of in the Seattle area. I think he works throughout the state.

  50. Avatar for Christian Christian says:

    My wife and I are seniors with fixed incomes, we are new to the srate and want to build our home as green as possible, are there any educational resources on solar in our area (Goldendale, WA)?

  51. Avatar for Sam Harriman Sam Harriman says:

    Great questions Ken

    1. WA Senate Bill 6170(passed 7/1/09) defines community solar as solar energy systems owned by local entities and placed on local government property or owned by utilities and funded voluntarily by utility ratepayers.

    I recently heard that the legislation is being rewritten due to a lot of confusing language.

    2. Your reading is correct. the incentive is for the gross *energy* (in kWh) produced. A second, dedicated, production meter is installed on a grid-tied system. The utility reads that meter, and once a year, they send you a check for your production.

    As I understand it, net metering arrangements are separate from production incentive payments. Ask your local installer.

  52. Avatar for Ken Ken says:

    Two more questions :)
    Could you define “community”? We have a large homeowners association where I live that includes an office, maintainence team, marina, etc. Would the association qualify for a community incentive if they used the power for say the office?
    Second question relates to the incentives. The way I read it, the incentive is for the gross power produced, not jsut the net metering. If so, does the total get added to the billing credit, or is the incentive sent as a check if it exceeds the billable amount?

  53. Avatar for Sam Harriman Sam Harriman says:

    Thanks for asking the 3¢ question!
    As far as I know Outback is the only major inverter company in Washington state. They have a manufacturing facility in Arlington, WA.

  54. Avatar for Ken Ken says:

    Are there companies that manufacture inverters now in WA.?

  55. Avatar for Frank Knight Frank Knight says:

    I wanted to thank you for your site. It is cool to see others working towards a green future in our EverGreen State… you would think with a name like the EverGreen State we should be the leaders in green energy production! Let’s hope with the future and more folks being aware and taking action that we can change that!
    I do also have a question: Do you know of any cities or counties offering incentives for residential PV systems?

  56. Avatar for Chris Chris says:

    I’m looking for info. on where I can get training to work in a solar panel manyfacturing plant. Any help would be greatly appreciated:
    [email protected],com

  57. Avatar for anachronism anachronism says:

    I’m constantly reading about the need to consider the “application of Solar Panels to create electricity”, so the following information maybe irrelevant, BUT it makes sense to consider the actual fact that “IF” you have an “ATTIC” in your home “YOU OWN A PERSONAL SOLAR HEATING SYSTEM” and it sure makes sense to use it to “HEAT YOUR LIVING QUARTERS” AND THE MONEY SAVED, which “Anachronism” has proven for “25 Years” will help you save and “Purchase” your new SOLAR ARRAY!
    I have built (5) commercial “Passive Solar Systems” starting in 1983 to 1989 in Washington State. My first system “COST” $48 in 1983 and has produced 95% of heating necessary to 70 degrees for 25 years. This building is 95’ long X 55’ wide x 28’ tall. The cubic area is the same as 14-1800 sq. foot homes. My monthly cost when 30 degrees outside cost $1.00 per day. The last project built in Vancouver, Wash in 1989 uses my combination “Passive Heat and automatic Passive Cooling”. The building is 145’ long by 74’ wide and 22’ high. My winter gas bill for heating and cooling averaged $1 per day in 1989/90.
    Look up on Internet ( to see five project using my Passive Solar Heating systems. IT IS REAL AND WORKS. You need help? ASK.

  58. Avatar for RJ RJ says:

    Can you give some details on the feed in tariff for WA state ? Is there any cap on producing electricity or getting money ? Can I install on open field and generate profit out of it ?

  59. Avatar for Mark Mark says:

    I’ve been looking for Solar Panel installer classes for WA cert. I’ve been unable to find one. I’m looking for a way to get into the field but so far no real luck except “send me your money and we’ll get you certified.” I’ve rebuilt @15 houses in my “spare” time- but I’ve owned them all- so no contractors licence. Thoughts?

  60. Avatar for mike novak mike novak says:

    This is all quite interesting. Having lived in Omaha since 1991 and now in Washington State. I use to EF&I hot water and hot air systems for living. I did great until the tax credits went away. If my memory serves me correctly the state offered 30% tax deduction and the feds were 40%. The systems worked great and people were extremely pleased of their purchase.

    So why is it so difficult to move the tax incentives forward and start the building process?
    Be Cool, Rhino

  61. Avatar for Dennis Sperry Dennis Sperry says:

    I would like to put up the pvc solar on my house to tie into the grid. But I don’t see the economics. The cost is too hight and pay back time to long! Even for a place like Yakima, Wa. with 300 days of sun. Maybe I’m wrong but thats how I see it. Thanks Dennis

  62. Avatar for Dan Hahn Dan Hahn says:

    Hi Bryce. I wrote this article. I mostly dug up information straight from the Washington legislative website. Check their site out by clicking on one of the above bills that passed.

  63. Avatar for Bryce Bryce says:

    Hello, I am doing a school project on Solar power in economics class and I appreciate this site, but I need to cite sources. Who wrote this article?

  64. Avatar for Dan Hahn Dan Hahn says:


    Thanks for your thanks! That means a lot to us. Of course, we’d love a link from you.


    – Dan

  65. Avatar for Heidi Heidi says:

    Thanks for all you are doing to educate, legislate and get people talking. I am just starting to learn about solar and am thankful to have found your site. I will recommend it to others asking.
    I would like to have you on our links page, let me know.

  66. Avatar for Adam Adam says:


    Our company designs and manufactures electrical control systems and control panels. We are a UL listed manufacturer and are very interested in teaming up with “green” technology companies and keeping the money in the US. Let me know if we can be of any assistance to further your vision.

  67. Avatar for George Ross George Ross says:

    There is an organization in Washington Sate that brokers Green Tag’s or REC’s for Washington based solar systems. The Green Tag Foundation (GTF) is paying .20 cents/kwh for green tag’s. That is well above what Bonneville Environmental Fund (BEF) is paying. GTF offers five year agreements for tax free cash on production of REC’s. email: [email protected]

    1. Avatar for gib gib says:

      Gib here from Vashon Solar LLC. Tell me more.

  68. Avatar for Mike Mike says:

    Do you honestly think that solar needs to be propped up the way coal and nukes have been? We are in the energy mess we are in because of poorly though out subsidies (to coal, oil, nukes,and natural gas, and ethenol. Why not fight against wasteful subsidies, instead of trying to create yet another subsidy dependent pig at the trough? The Carter solar hot water subsidies created a bunch of tax shelter systems, and the industry went broke when, they were eliminated. You really want history to repeat itself????…..lets try a bit more creative thinking, directed toward local sustainablility, local jobs, and money staying in your communites. Right now the Federal, and most state incentives, promote installation by out of state carpetbaggers, poorly designed systems that underproduce, and move rate payer money directly to china, where “clean” energy solar is manufactured by coal fired electricity and shipped half way around the world by tankers driven by bunker fuel. Typical large scale PV systems are financed thru operations like Goldman-Sachs… not exactly keeping the money local.

  69. Avatar for Tom Tom says:

    we are purchasing a Mobil home in Either franklin or benton cvounty in Wa we are seniors the mobile home is new what are the incentives for us to install solar power

  70. Avatar for corrina corrina says:

    WA, we need to get with the program!

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