You probably need a solar power rebate to make solar panels feasible.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s look at why it’s true:
The price of solar power is dropping, but for the time being, solar rebates are the best way to ensure a reasonable payback period.
(This means that the electricity savings you get from your solar panels will eventually cover the cost of installing the panels.)
The details of available rebates will differ depending on where you live but there are some general rules and trends we can take a look at.
For starters, let’s take a look at the different kind of solar power financial incentives available.
Though there may be a lot of variation in the incentives that are available to you, the three main categories are:
- Feed In Tariffs
- Tax Breaks
A rebate usually refers to a one-time payout you receive from a utility, municipal government, state government, or federal government when you install solar panels.
For United States residents the best way to find out which solar rebates are available to you is to check out something called the Database of State Incentives For Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE for short).
DSIRE is the ‘go-to’ list for government incentives and policies that promote renewable energy. It was established in 1995 and it is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. When you go to the DSIRE website just click on your state to check out all the programs available to you.
Feed In Tariffs
A feed in tariff usually refers to a policy that requires utilities to purchase renewable electricity from people in their service area.
This often takes the form of a long-term contract that guarantees that you will receive an above-market rate for each kilowatt hour of electricity your solar panels produce.
The tariff is designed to promote the adoption of renewable energy technologies that may not make financial sense on their own.
Unlike a solar rebate which is a payment made to you, a solar tax credit lowers the amount you owe on your tax bill.
In the United States, the Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit allows people to claim a credit of 30% of the cost of a solar power system. If you are unable to use the entire credit it can be carried over until at least 2016.
As an added bonus, beginning in 2009 there is no longer a maximum amount placed on the solar tax credit.
Now that we’ve taken a look at some of the various solar financial incentives available, let’s take a moment to consider the dominant trend in solar power rebates.
Since the cost of solar panels has come down drastically over the last few years, some people think it is a good idea to delay a solar installation to let prices drop further.
There’s only one problem with this idea…
As the price of a solar installation continues to drop, governments have begun to scale back their solar rebate programs.
Not fair, you say?
Well, just remember that the rebates and tax credits were designed to get the solar industry on its feet in the first place. As the solar industry brings its costs down through economies of scale, the rebates should no longer be necessary.
In other words, don’t wait too long to go solar because the solar power rebates we see today weren’t meant to last.