2023 Solar Incentives Guide for Columbia, PA - Tax Credits & Rebates
In this guide, we'll cover the latest solar incentives and rebates available in Columbia.
You'll learn about:
- Local & State Solar Incentives
- Federal Tax Credits (Updated for 2023 and beyond)
- Ways to optimize your solar investment
Solar installers are experts in maximizing your solar tax credits and rebates.
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By EcoWatch Local Advisors
Data Analysis: James Savino
Ranking Methodology: Karsten Neumeister
Updated March 14, 2023
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What Solar Tax Credits, Incentives, and Rebates are Available in Columbia?
High Performance Buildings Incentive Program
Commercial loans/loan guarantees: $2 million
Grants: Lesser of 10% of project costs or $500,000
Wind and Geothermal Incentives Program
Manufacturer grants: $5,000 per job created within 3 years
Loans for geothermal systems: $3 per square foot of space served up to $5 million; also limited to 50% of eligible costs for residential systems.
Loans for wind energy production projects: $5 million
Grants for wind energy production projects: $1 million
Grants for feasibility studies: 50% of cost up to $175,000
Loan guarantee grants: Up to 75% of deficient funds up to $5 million
Solar Alternative Energy Credits
High Performance Building Incentives Program
Federal Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit
The phrase "solar incentives" refers to a wide range of financial incentives designed to make installing and using solar panels more affordable. This is done to encourage people to switch to renewable energy. Incentives could include things like discounts, cash back or credit on your utility bill each month. Some incentives are provided by the federal government, while others are handled by the state of Pennsylvania or by your specific utility company, county or municipality. You might qualify for any of the following types of solar incentives:
- Tax Exemptions: These might come in the form of property tax exemptions, which allow you to exclude the value of your solar system when paying taxes on your house. You could also look for exemptions on sales tax at the time of purchase.
- Rebates: Solar companies may help you claim a rebate, or partial refund after purchase, for your solar system. Counties or states will also sometimes offer limited-time rebates. The value of a rebate will usually be deducted from your total price before tax credits are calculated.
- Solar Renewable Energy Certificate (SREC): SRECs and similar performance-based incentives are usually handled at the state level. Once your solar panel system meets a predetermined threshold (generally a small amount of energy production), you are eligible to receive SRECs that can be sold to your utility company or other buyers. The money you receive is generally considered part of your taxable income.
- Tax Credits: Tax credits are dollar-for-dollar reductions (not deductions) in how much in taxes you owe the federal government.
- Net Metering: Net metering factors in once your solar system is up and running. If you have a net metering agreement in place with your Columbia utility company, they will subtract the value of the excess energy your solar system produces from your monthly utility bill. In some locations, this is a dollar-for-dollar credit, while in others you may be refunded a percentage of the value.
Federal Solar Incentives
Federal incentives are the kind of incentives that you are most likely to have some knowledge of. The Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit, or ITC, is the most commonly known federal solar incentive. The ITC allows you to claim a tax credit for a specific percentage of your solar system's cost.
The ITC can be applied to the total cost of solar system installation, including the panels themselves as well as accessories, labor and equipment. This credit can be claimed for panels installed after January 1, 2006 on a primary or secondary residence located in the United States that you own. From its original value of 30% of the total cost, the credit has fluctuated slightly between 26-30%, and you may qualify for varying percentages depending on when your project was completed. There is no maximum amount you can claim.
Talking to your local Columbia solar panel installation expert is the best way to learn more about how the ITC may apply to your situation.
The Inflation Reduction Act, passed in August 2022, expanded and extended the ITC (as well as retitling it the Clean Energy Credit). Under the new program, solar installation projects that are completed between 2022 and 2032 might qualify for a 30% tax credit. The amount of the credit will then see a slight annual decrease until the end of the current Clean Energy Credit in 2035. Starting in 2023, it will also be easier to obtain credits for energy storage systems under the new laws.
Click here to learn more about the new Inflation Reduction Act. Your local Columbia solar panel company can answer your questions and explain how the new Clean Energy Credit may apply to you.
State & Local Solar Incentives
There are often also state solar incentives in addition to those provided by the federal government. Rebates, tax credits and more may be available at a more local level. Certain incentives are ongoing, while others are available for a limited time. Incentives might be offered by your county or municipality, or by the Pennsylvania government.
Next Steps for Installing Solar in Columbia
The nationwide use of solar energy has significantly increased in the past 15 years, in part thanks to the increase in availability of solar incentives. You can obtain these incentives from the Pennsylvania government, the federal government or your local utility company. Your local Columbia solar panel installation company can help you learn more about which incentives you might qualify for, and get you started on the path to switching to renewable energy today.
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EcoWatch's Columbia, PA Solar Incentives FAQs
What if I want to add solar panels to a vacation home, rental property or commercial property? Do I still qualify for incentives?
While we recommend talking to your local solar installer and/or tax professional to fully understand what solar incentives apply to you, many can be claimed on a second home, so long as that home is in the United States and owned by you. There may be additional incentives available specifically for commercial properties, depending on the details.
How much will solar panels save me annually on my electric bill in Columbia?
Typically, Columbia homeowners who install solar panels save around $739.82 per year, or around $14,056.59 over 20 years after making the switch.
What are the highest-rated solar panel installation companies near me?
To find a top-rated solar panel installer, check out our guide to Columbia's best solar panel companies.
What are the environmental benefits of switching to solar?
Solar energy is renewable — by switching where you get your energy, you help reduce the strain on our planet's resources. A solar system can also lower the CO2 emissions from your home by 250 pounds a year, or around 5,000 pounds over 20 years.
Can I qualify for incentives both towards the up-front cost of solar panels, and later as reimbursement?
Yes, you can claim both tax credits and rebates towards the cost of solar panels. Depending on precisely which incentives you are eligible for, they may apply in a different order. Be sure to talk to your solar installer or a local tax professional to confirm that you are claiming the correct incentives and getting the most money possible.
Our goal is to reach as many people as we can with sensible solutions like solar energy. Our team of full-time local researchers collects solar price and installation data for every city in America then compiles it to create these digestible city guides. If you want to read our solar expert's opinion on the top solar companies featured here, follow this link.
Solar incentive research was conducted by Melissa Smith and Karsten Neumeister. Local data analysis was conducted by James Savino. See something we missed or could do better? Email the editor.