There are financial incentives available that make it easier for homeowners to invest in solar energy systems, including a number of solar tax exemptions at the state and local levels. These solar tax exemptions can vary by location and may include relief from sales taxes, property taxes and more.
In this article, we'll discuss which tax exemptions are available to homeowners who invest in renewable energy systems in each state, as well as the federal solar tax credit. Read on to learn more, or fill out the form below to get a free, no-obligation quote from a solar installer near you to see how much can save on a solar panel system.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on for and is not intended to provide accounting, legal or tax advice.
Solar Sales Tax Exemptions
Solar sales tax exemptions are a common financial incentive designated by state governments. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, there are currently 25 states that offer a solar sales tax exemption.
What does this mean, exactly? Most states levy a tax on consumer purchases, which can range from 2.9% to 9.5%. With a solar sales tax exemption, these taxes are waived on purchases of solar panels, solar batteries and other forms of solar equipment. Naturally, this can reduce the total purchasing cost considerably, making a solar investment a bit more affordable.
For example, if your state has a sales tax of 6% and you purchase a solar panel system for $16,000, you'll end up paying $16,960 in total. If your state has a solar sales tax exemption, however, you'll only pay $16,000.
Solar Property Tax Exemptions
The Solar Energy Industries Association notes that 36 states currently offer a property tax exemption for homeowners who install residential solar systems.
Here's what this means: A solar panel installation typically results in a significant increase in your property values. (On average, homeowners see a solar-related property value increase of about 4.1%.) In states that have renewable energy property tax exemptions, homeowners whose property values rise are protected from a comparable increase in property taxes. In other words, the worth of the home goes up, but homeowners do not have to pay anything more come tax time.
Solar Tax Exemptions: State By State Breakdown
Different states have different laws when it comes to sales and property tax exemptions for solar installations. To learn about the tax incentives available in your area, check the table below:
|State||Solar Property Tax Exemption*||Solar Sales Tax Exemption*|
|Alabama||No exemption||No exemption|
|Alaska||Local exemptions||No sales tax|
|Arizona||100% exempt||100% exempt|
|Arkansas||No exemption||No exemption|
|California||100% exempt until 1/2/2025||No exemption|
|Colorado||100% exempt||100% exempt|
|Connecticut||100% exempt||100% exempt|
|Delaware||No exemption||No state sales tax|
|Florida||100% exempt||100% exempt|
|Georgia||No exemption||No exemption|
|Hawaii||100% NHL only||No exemption|
|Idaho||No exemption||No exemption|
|Illinois||Special assessment||No exemption|
|Indiana||100% exempt||No exemption|
|Iowa||100% exempt for 5 years||100% exempt|
|Kansas||100% exempt||No exemption|
|Kentucky||No exemption||No exemption|
|Louisiana||100% exempt||No exemption|
|Maine||No exemption||No exemption|
|Maryland||100% exempt||100% exempt|
|Massachusetts||100% exempt for 20 years||100% exempt|
|Michigan||100% exempt||No exemption|
|Minnesota||100% exempt||100% exempt|
|Mississippi||No exemption||No exemption|
|Missouri||100% exempt||No exemption|
|Montana||100% exempt for 10 years||No state sales tax|
|Nebraska||Exemptions only for systems over 100 kW||No exemption|
|Nevada||Exemptions only for certain systems over 10 MW||No exemption|
|New Hampshire||Local exemptions||No state sales tax|
|New Jersey||100% exempt||100% exempt|
|New Mexico||100% exempt||100% exempt|
|New York||100% exempt for 5 years||100% exempt|
|North Carolina||80% exempt||No exemption|
|North Dakota||100% exempt for 5 years||No exemption|
|Ohio||Exemptions in Cincinnati and Cleveland||100% exempt|
|Oklahoma||No exemption||No exemption|
|Oregon||100% exempt||No state sales tax|
|Pennsylvania||No exemption||No exemption|
|Rhode Island||100% exempt||100% exempt|
|South Carolina||No exemption||No exemption|
Exemption of either $50,000
or 70% of total property value
|Tennessee||Tax value no more than 12.5% of installed cost||100% exempt|
|Texas||100% exempt||No exemption|
Exemptions only for systems
over 2 MW
|Vermont||100% exempt||100% exempt|
|Virginia||Local exemptions||No exemption|
Exemptions only for systems
up to 10 kW
|Washington DC||100% exempt||No exemption|
|West Virginia||No exemption||No exemption|
|Wisconsin||100% exempt||100% exempt|
|Wyoming||No exemption||No exemption|
*Accurate as of time of publication.
Federal Solar Tax Incentives
In addition to these state-specific incentives, there is also a federal tax incentive that is available to all Americans who invest in solar power. The solar investment tax credit (ITC) is currently valued at 26% of the total solar installation cost, meaning homeowners can essentially deduce 26% of that up-front cost.
This tax credit covers:
- The cost of solar panels
- Labor costs for installation
- Additional solar equipment, like inverters, wiring, etc.
- Energy storage devices, including solar batteries
- Sales taxes paid for eligible solar installation expenses (in states that do not have sales tax exemptions)
Note that the federal tax credit is available for all homeowners who purchase a system, whether they buy it outright or finance it with a solar loan, but it is not available to those who lease solar panels.
Frequently Asked Questions: Solar Tax Exemptions
Are solar panels exempt from sales tax?
In states that have a solar sales tax exemption, yes, the purchase of solar panels is shielded from sales tax. Currently, at least 25 states offer a solar sales tax exemption.
Is solar sales tax exempt in Texas?
No, Texas solar incentives do not currently include a sales tax exemption.
Is solar exempt from property taxes?
Currently, there are 36 states that offer solar property tax incentives. Take a look at the chart included above to find out whether your state offers a solar property tax exemption. Some municipalities may have local property tax abatements as well, so property owners considering going solar should check government websites for additional information about incentives and rebates.
Are solar roofs tax deductible?
Your solar roof shingles can be claimed via the federal solar investment tax credit, allowing you to deduct 26% of your total clean energy system costs.
Do solar panels decrease property taxes?
Solar projects usually increase residential property values, which in some states may actually mean an increase in property taxes. However, in the 36 states that offer a solar property tax exemption, an increase in home values does not result in an increase in property taxes.
Installing a residential solar system brings the promise of incredible long-term cost savings, particularly in the form of low monthly electric bills, but also a rather steep initial investment. Before deciding whether to purchase solar panels, homeowners should keep in mind their expected solar panel payback period, or the amount of time it will take to recoup their investment.
There are several factors to keep in mind as you calculate your estimated solar panel payback time, including your electricity rates, the total cost of your home solar system and how much you'll save with rebates and the federal solar investment tax credit. We'll walk you through all of this and more below.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on for and is not intended to provide accounting, legal or tax advice.
What is a Payback Period for Residential Solar?
For most homeowners in the U.S., it takes roughly eight years to break even on a solar panel investment. For example, if your solar installation cost is $16,000 and the system helps you conserve $2,000 annually on energy bills, then your payback period will be around eight years (16,000/2,000 = 8).
To put it a little differently, the solar payback period represents the time it will take for your utility savings to eclipse your initial investment cost. It is at this point that you might say the solar panel system has "paid for itself."
Keep in mind that there are a number of basic determinants that go into calculating solar payback periods, including installation costs, interest rates if you're taking out a solar loan, applicable tax credits and solar rebates, and energy bill savings. The latter is always going to be relative to the costs of electricity in your region, so areas that have higher utility costs tend to have slightly shorter payback periods.
Average Solar Panel Payback Period in the U.S.
Though the average solar panel payback period is somewhere in the eight- to 12-year range, this can vary quite a bit from home to home. For some, it may be as little as five years. For others, it may be as long as 15 years. Local electricity costs and state-specific financial incentives, such as tax credits, solar rebates or net metering programs, are determinative factors.
What's Considered a Good Payback Period for Solar Panels?
One way to determine whether you're getting a good return on your solar energy investment is to look at the entire lifespan of your system. Most residential solar systems last between 25 and 30 years. If your payback period is eight years, you'll be "making money" on the system for 17 to 23 years.
Most solar industry experts say that if your solar panel payback period is less than half the life of your system, it's a decent investment.
Another thing to keep in mind is internal rate of return, or IRR. Basically, think about what would happen if instead of investing in solar power, you placed your money into a more traditional financial investment. How well would that investment have to perform in order for it to be more financially advantageous than a solar system?
Depending on your investment strategies, solar panel installations may or may not offer a higher ROI than purchasing stocks, real estate or other investments. It's important to weigh IRR carefully to ensure the most prudent decision.
How to Calculate Your Solar Payback Period
While it is impossible to calculate your exact solar panel payback period, getting a quote from an installer will allow you to make a fairly accurate, well-informed estimate.
Here's how to do it:
- Calculate or get a quote for your overall total system cost. Talk with a solar installer near you to determine the gross upfront cost of your system. Note that this will be dependent on the size of the system as well as the type of equipment you need and add-ons like solar battery storage.
- Factor in the federal tax credit and any applicable local rebates or credits. These financial incentives can dramatically reduce your solar expenses. In particular, the federal tax credit enables you to deduct 26% of the total installation cost on your tax return. This is above and beyond any state- or city-specific incentives. Don't forget about solar renewable energy certificates (SRECs) from net metering programs.
- If financing solar panels, factor in any fees or additional associated costs. If you're taking out a solar loan to pay for your system, you'll need to account for any other expenses associated with the loan.
- Calculate your average annual electricity consumption and costs to determine the amount you'll save on energy by switching to solar. Solar installers will do their best to create a system that matches your electrical consumption, but there are a lot of variables to think about, including seasonal shifts. Even so, knowing about how much you spend on electricity each year can give you a decent sense of your potential savings.
- Take into account the rate of increase. In calculating the cost of electricity, remember that local rates may increase over time. You can always call your utility company and ask about any expected increases, or look at bills from past years to determine previous rate increases.
- Divide the cost of the system (including financial incentives) by the annual amount you'll save on electricity bills. This will tell you roughly how many years it will take for you to recoup your initial investment. Beyond that, every month that you run your solar system can be counted as financial gain.
To get started with a free, no-obligation quote from a top solar company in your area, fill out the form below.
Frequently Asked Questions: Solar Panel Payback
What is the payback period for solar panels?
In the U.S., the payback period for solar panels is about eight years on average, but this can vary quite a bit from one homeowner to the next. In fact, your solar payback period may fall anywhere between five and 15 years.
Do solar panels really pay for themselves?
A well-designed and properly installed solar panel system will usually pay for itself, though it will take several years to reach this point. Beyond the break-even point, every month that you operate your solar system can be considered financial gain.
How much money do you get back from solar?
The federal tax credit will allow you to recoup 26% of your investment right off the bat. Additional savings can be obtained through local and state-level incentives, net metering programs, and savings on your month-to-month electric expenses.
How do you calculate the payback period for solar?
The basic formula for calculating a payback period for solar is to divide the cost of the system, including tax rebates and financial incentives, by the annual amount you'll save on utility bills. This will give you the number of years required for you to "break even" with your solar panels.
With a growing market for vegan makeup and cruelty-free cosmetics, more and more beauty brands are ditching animal ingredients and animal testing. While many luxe animal-friendly companies have high prices, there are a number of cruelty-free makeup brands producing affordable personal care products as well.
In this article, we'll recommend 11 essential beauty products that have drugstore price tags and cruelty-free certifications. An easy switch to make in your day-to-day makeup and skincare routine is to invest in cruelty-free cosmetics that work to protect the most vulnerable among us — animals.
Our Picks for Best Cruelty-free Makeup Products
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. Learn more about our review methodology here. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn a commission.
- Best Foundation: Milani Conceal + Perfect 2-in-1 Liquid Foundation
- Best Concealer: NYX HD Studio Photogenic Concealer
- Best Pressed Powder: IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores Pressed Finishing Powder
- Best Blush: Milani Baked Blush
- Best Highlighter: Pacifica Beauty Ice Baby Hydrating Highlighter
- Best Eyeshadow Palette: e.l.f. Mad for Matte Eyeshadow Palette
- Best Eyeliner: Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eyeliner Pencil
- Best Cruelty-Free Mascara: Essence Cosmetics Lash Princess False Lash Effect Mascara
- Best Vegan Lip Balm: Eco Lips Mongo Kiss
- Best Lipstick: IT Cosmetics Pillow Lips Lipstick
- Best Setting Spray: Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray
What to Know About Cruelty-Free Makeup
While vegan products are great for the environment, they aren't always cruelty-free — nor are cruelty-free products always vegan. "Vegan" means that the product's formula doesn't contain any animal-derived ingredients, while "cruelty-free" means that it was developed without animal testing.
No product we recommend in this article is tested on animals at any point during the production process. They come from ethical, cruelty-free makeup brands, which can be hard to find in the massive beauty industry.
Full Reviews of Our Top Picks
Best Foundation: Milani Conceal + Perfect 2-in-1 Liquid Foundation
The Milani Conceal + Perfect Foundation comes in over 40 shades, so there is a color for just about every complexion. The appeal of this foundation is that it combines a liquid foundation with the power of concealer to create smooth, even, flawless-looking skin in one step. The waterproof foundation has a natural-looking satin matte finish for all-day wear.
Customer Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars with about 15,000 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: Milani Cosmetics is both Leaping Bunny Certified and a PETA Beauty Without Bunnies brand. The company's focus on inclusivity and affordability makes it one of the best cruelty-free makeup brands for any shopper.
Best Concealer: NYX HD Studio Photogenic Concealer
This medium-coverage concealer goes on smoothly to help cover blemishes, skin discoloration and under-eye circles. NYX's concealer wand comes in 23 shades including color-correcting green, yellow and lavender.
Customer Rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars with over 30,500 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: NYX Professional Makeup products are certified cruelty-free by PETA. This product is also vegan and doesn't contain any gluten, soy or parabens.
Best Pressed Powder: IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores Pressed Finishing Powder
This translucent pressed setting powder is good for any skin tone, and its formula helps to blur the appearance of pores and imperfections. The Bye Bye Pores pressed powder can be useful for touch-ups throughout the day. It can also double as a blotting powder.
Customer Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars with over 2,100 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: This formulation was developed with insights from plastic surgeons and dermatologists and uses an anti-aging mix of peptides, silk, hydrolyzed collagen and antioxidants that may help skin look more youthful. IT Cosmetics is PETA Beauty Without Bunnies certified. This product is also free of parabens and propylene glycol.
Best Blush: Milani Baked Blush
Milani's Baked Blush is available in 16 different shades, adding a pop of color to any complexion. The color range includes rose and peach tones with satin or shimmery finishes. Each high-quality Milani blush is sunbaked on Italian terracotta tiles to ensure it gives your skin a warm glow.
Customer Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars with over 21,500 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: This Milani product is certified cruelty-free by both Leaping Bunny and PETA Beauty Without Bunnies standards. It is vegan and is made without paraben preservatives.
Best Highlighter: Pacifica Beauty Ice Baby Hydrating Highlighter
Made with coconut water and exuding a cool pink tint, Pacifica's Ice Baby Hydrating Highlighter may be a good choice for those looking for a lush, glowy look. The formula creates a velvety powder that's easy to apply to the cheekbones, nose, upper lip or anywhere else you want to shine.
Customer Rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars with over 200 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: The formula for this highlighter is 100% vegan and cruelty-free to the standards of PETA's Beauty Without Bunnies program. The formula does not include parabens or phthalates.
Best Eyeshadow Palette: e.l.f. Mad for Matte Eyeshadow Palette
This e.l.f. Cosmetics palette includes 10 matte shadows that are great for shading, highlighting and defining the eyes. The palette's diversity allows you to mix and match colors to achieve both natural and more bold looks.
Customer Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars with over 350 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: All e.l.f. Cosmetics products are vegan and endorsed by PETA's Beauty Without Bunnies program. This eyeshadow palette is also paraben-free and doesn't use phthalates, nonylphenol, ethoxylates, triclosan, triclocarban or hydroquinone.
Best Eyeliner: Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eyeliner Pencil
Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eyeliner Pencil is designed to make application a breeze. It has a long-lasting, creamy formula that makes drawing beautiful, precise lines simple and smooth. Or, it can be smudged out for a smokey-eye look.
Customer Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars with over 3,500 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: Urban Decay's 24/7 eyeliner pencil utilizes moisturizing and hydrating ingredients such as vitamin E, jojoba oil and cottonseed oil. Like all of Urban Decay's products, this eyeliner is certified cruelty-free by PETA. It also doesn't contain any fragrances, parabens, gluten or soy.
Best Cruelty-Free Mascara: Essence Cosmetics Lash Princess False Lash Effect Mascara
This mascara utilizes a cone-shaped fiber brush that helps to separate and coat each lash, creating a voluminous look without clumping. Essence's Lash Princess mascara formula helps to prevent flaking and fading, so it's good for all-day wear.
Customer Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars with over 202,000 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: Essence is a PETA Beauty Without Bunnies cruelty-free makeup brand, so you can be sure it never tests on animals. The formula doesn't include gluten, parabens, soy, propylene glycol or other harsh irritants.
Best Vegan Lip Balm: Eco Lips Mongo Kiss Lip Balm
This USDA certified organic product uses ingredients like mongongo oil and cocoa butter that help soothe and moisturize dry, cracked and chapped lips. It can be used as a base for lipstick or lip liner.
Customer Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars with over 3,500 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: Eco Lips vegan beauty products are earth-friendly and cruelty-free. The lip balm container is made from over 40% post-consumer recycled material. The formula doesn't include any parabens, lanolin, gluten, soy, propylene glycol, corn, chemicals, petroleum, dyes or irritants. It is certified non-GMO, Fair Trade, Leaping Bunny and PETA Beauty Without Bunnies.
Best Lipstick: IT Cosmetics Pillow Lips Lipstick
This IT Cosmetics lipstick comes in a variety of shades with both cream and matte finishes, so there is something for everyone. The lipstick includes collagen to help create a plumping effect, making lips look fuller. Its high-impact color and pigment can be applied in a single swipe.
Customer Rating: 4 out of 5 stars with about 150 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: Along with collagen, this lipstick's PETA-certified cruelty-free formula includes hyaluronic filling spheres, shea butter and beeswax. The ingredients are helpful in minimizing the look of lip wrinkles.
Best Setting Spray: Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray
Urban Decay's award-winning setting spray uses temperature control technology to help makeup stay on for up to 16 hours. It is oil-free and suitable for all skin types, including oily, normal and dry skin.
Customer Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars with over 5,000 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: The All Nighter Setting Spray is one of Urban Decay's vegan beauty products. It's also certified cruelty-free to PETA Beauty Without Bunnies standards. The formula includes no parabens gluten, dye, soy or oil.
FAQ: Cruelty-Free Makeup Brands
Is L'Oréal cruelty-free?
L'Oréal is not cruelty-free. Its products are sold in China, where the government requires animal testing for foreign cosmetics.
Is Maybelline cruelty-free?
Like its parent company L'Oréal, Maybelline is not cruelty-free. Its products are sold in China, where the government requires animal testing for foreign cosmetics.
Is Kylie Cosmetics cruelty-free?
Kylie Cosmetics products are not tested on animals, but the brand's parent company,Coty, Inc, is not cruelty-free.
What makeup doesn't test on animals?
There are plenty of makeup brands that don't test on animals. When looking for products, keep an eye out for cruelty-free signals such as Leaping Bunny Certified or PETA Beauty Without Bunnies logos.
Is "cruelty-free" makeup really cruelty-free?
The term "cruelty-free" is currently not regulated by the U.S. government, so you can't trust every product or company that advertises this. Some brands contract other companies to do their animal testing but claim to "not test on animals" because they are not doing the testing themselves. The best way to be certain a company or product is actually cruelty-free is to look for certifications such as Leaping Bunny or PETA Beauty Without Bunnies.
Though summer is the most popular season for RV travel, fall is close behind it. Indeed, there are plenty of folks across the country who love to load up their campers and head out to witness the changing foliage, bask in cooler temperatures and herald the coming of crisp autumn air.
One of the challenges that RV owners face? How to keep their treks eco-friendly. After all, traveling by RV comes with a number of environmental challenges. RVs get low gas mileage, plus they produce more carbon emissions than flying or simply taking a car.
The good news is that, by following a few basic tips, it's possible to make your RV travels more eco-friendly. Here are some earth-conscious steps to take for your next RV adventure.
Ways to Have a More Environmentally Friendly RV Vacation
Although RV trips can have poor environmental impacts, there are a few ways to make your travels more eco-friendly. We recommend following these tips:
1. Focus on Fuel Efficiency
One of the first things you can do to make your next RV trip more sustainable is to take the necessary precautions to optimize fuel efficiency. Start by lightening your load, eliminating any of those "just in case" items that you're more than likely never going to need. Also, be sure to regularly check tire pressure and keep up with your manufacturer's suggested maintenance schedule. Each of these things will help your RV perform more efficiently.
Another thing you can do to get more miles per gallon is to drive at an optimal speed. Camper Report recommends cruising at 63 mph or slower and never exceeding 65 mph.
2. Prioritize Energy Efficiency
In addition to boosting your fuel economy, there are a number of ways you can make your RV a more energy-efficient ride. Here are a few actions we recommend:
- Switch to LED lights: Switching your light bulbs and lighting strips to LEDs is relatively easy and affordable for most RVs.
- Use energy-efficient appliances: From refrigerators to microwaves, there are probably more energy-efficient alternatives to the current appliances in your RV. Consider swapping out as many as you can.
- Park strategically: Instead of cranking the air conditioning on hot days, park in the shade. And when it's cold, park in direct sunlight rather than flipping on your space heater.
- Insulation: If you'll be traveling throughout late fall and winter, or are visiting cold-weather destinations at other times of the year, consider investing in some insulation for your RV.
These are just a few small ways to boost the energy efficiency of your recreational vehicle.
3. Install Solar Panels on Your RV
Another great way to make your RV trip more sustainable is to install solar panels on your vehicle. A good solar setup can harness clean, renewable energy from the sun, convert it into usable electricity, and provide you with an eco-friendly way to power appliances or charge your devices.
There are a few options for solar panels for RVs, including systems that are fixed to the roof of your camper and ones that are portable and that can be taken in and out of the vehicle when needed. There are also rigid and flexible solar panels to choose from depending on whether you have a curved roof.
Although solar panels will increase the weight of your ride, the power they produce more than offsets any added energy expenditure related to fuel efficiency.
4. Cut Down on Waste
Eco-friendly RV adventurers should also try to reduce any waste generated by food and supplies. A few tips to cut down on trash on the road include:
- Shop smart: Waste reduction starts with buying less. Try to purchase food and supplies in bulk, and stop at local zero-waste shops and farmers markets along your route.
- Compost: Keep a kitchen compost bin in the galley and empty it at municipal trash facilities whenever possible. If smells become a concern, you can keep a compostable trash bag in your freezer to store food scraps without odors.
- Reuse and recycle: Repurpose and reuse waste when you can, and keep tabs on the regulations in the areas you're traveling through so you know what you can recycle.
- Ditch disposables: Use real cutlery, plates, napkins, cups and other alternatives to single-use plastic items.
5. Use Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products
The cleaning products you use along your RV trip can have big environmental impacts. Non-toxic, eco-friendly cleaning products are best for inside surfaces, as they allow you to avoid any risk of sending harmful chemicals out into surrounding ecosystems. Plus, they're better for your health, especially when using them in small, enclosed spaces like a camper.
For cleaning your septic tank, we recommend enzyme-based cleaners; again, the goal is just to avoid toxic or artificial chemicals whenever possible.
6. Switch to Biodiesel
Something else you can do to make your RV trek more eco-friendly? Switch to biodiesel.
Biodiesel is a renewable, biodegradable fuel source, typically made from animal fats and vegetable oils. Some biodiesel is made with recycled restaurant greases, too.
Biodiesel is a clean-burning alternative to traditional petroleum products. Making the switch will significantly reduce your RV's contributions to air pollution, among other benefits.
There are more than 300 biodiesel fueling stations in the U.S. and Canada. You can see a complete directory via the U.S. Department of Energy. Note that RVs that run on conventional diesel are almost always compatible with biodiesel.
7. Adhere to Best Practices When Camping
Finally, keep a few eco-friendly tips in mind when you set up camp.
- Camp in designated campsites: This helps preserve natural vegetation and concentrates visitor use impact.
- Practice responsible dispersed camping: If you are in a primitive area, make sure to research all local regulations concerning dispersed camping before parking for the night.
- Follow Leave No Trace principles: There are seven Leave No Trace principles: plan ahead and prepare; travel and camp on durable surfaces; dispose of waste properly; leave what you find; minimize campfire impacts; respect wildlife; be considerate of other visitors. By adhering to these, you can ensure you're camping as sustainably as possible.
While this article contains a number of ideas for making your RV trips more eco-friendly, adopting just a few of them can make a huge difference for environmental impact on the road.
As solar power becomes increasingly popular in the U.S., many homeowners have jumped on the opportunity to adopt clean energy, and Georgia residents have been some of the quickest to make the switch.
According to data from the Solar Energy Industries Association, Georgia is one of the top solar adopters in the country, ranking ninth for overall residential solar panel installations. The question is, what are the top cities for solar in Georgia? Read on to find out.
Top 10 Cities for Solar in Georgia
Our research team narrowed down the top cities for solar energy in Georgia by looking at data from the SEIA as well as the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's annual solar irradiance and Solar For All maps, local government websites and Environment America's latest Shining Cities report.
Based on our findings, these are the top solar cities in Georgia:
It's no surprise Georgia's largest city tops the list of solar cities in the Peach State. Atlanta is ranked 43rd in the nation for total solar installation according to Environment America, and it has also been designated a SolSmart Gold City. This means that it is dedicated to making it easier, faster and more affordable for residents to switch to solar. Additionally, Atlanta has set a goal to use 100% renewable energy by 2035.
A small suburb of Atlanta, Clarkston makes our list of top solar cities in Georgia for a couple of reasons. First, it has a goal of using 100% renewable energy by 2050. And second, it's located in DeKalb County, which has achieved SolSmart Bronze status.
Although it's traditionally recognized as a college town with largely transient residents, Athens has been designated a SolSmart Bronze City for its commitment to making solar more accessible for permanent residents and homeowners. The greater Athens-Clarke County has a goal of using 100% clean, renewable electricity by 2035.
This SolSmart Bronze City has a goal of getting its municipal electricity from 100% renewable energy sources by 2035 and all other energy needs from 100% renewable energy by 2050. The city also has a community-based group-purchasing program called Solarize Savannah that helps residents get lower rates on solar panels, solar batteries and other clean energy technologies.
Marietta, Georgia, has an especially high number of buildings suitable for solar and also one of the state's highest potentials for rooftop solar energy generation according to NREL's maps. Marietta also has its own net metering program, which helps incentivize solar energy adoption.
Augusta has set a short-term goal of using 80% renewable energy by 2030 and a long-term goal of 100% by 2050. Its commitment to transitioning to clean energy sources has already prompted many homeowners to purchase solar panel systems for residential use.
According to NREL data, the City of Columbus boasts above-average potential for solar energy generation and is situated within a solar opportunity zone with a high potential for rooftop capacity and generation. It's also commendable that lawmakers are working on an initiative to use renewable energy in order to provide rural internet and broadband access.
Butler is home to one of the largest solar plants in the Southeast. The Butler Solar Facility, which entered operation in 2015, spans about 1,070 acres and consists of more than 1 million photovoltaic solar modules.
With 219 sunny days a year, Macon, Georgia is in a solar opportunity zone with high potential for rooftop capacity and generation, according to data from NREL. There's also a new solar farm being constructed within city limits that will feed clean energy into the Georgia Power grid.
Valdosta, located near the Florida-Georgia line, was an early adopter of solar energy. The city has nine solar installations that have been built on low-value land that otherwise wouldn't have a use. Collectively, these installations put out enough energy to power up to 6,300 homes.
Where Solar Panels Work Best
Some cities are better suited for solar energy installation than others. There are a few factors that can make a place superior for solar power, including:
- Days of sun: Consistent, year-round sunlight is best for efficient solar generation. Although solar panels work on cloudy days, in general, sunnier cities tend to be better bets for solar installation.
- Tax incentives: Tax rebates, property tax exemptions, and net metering programs can all be used to incentivize solar power.
- Electricity costs: If local electricity rates are higher, then the value of solar power tends to go up. If utility costs are already low, then switching to solar isn't quite as financially advantageous.
Average Georgia Electricity Costs
On the subject of electrical costs, how much do Georgians pay for electricity each month? Here are a few stats from the Energy Information Administration:
- The average monthly electrical consumption is 1,121 kWh, which is roughly on par with neighboring states such as Florida and South Carolina.
- The average monthly electric bill is $131.84. Again, this is in the same ballpark as surrounding states.
Compared to the average U.S. energy bill ($115.49), Georgia's electricity costs are slightly high. This may lead to higher returns on investment for solar customers in the state.
Georgia Solar Tax Incentives
There are a few ways in which Georgia incentivizes solar installation, starting with statewide net metering. Through these types of programs, any surplus energy your system generates is fed back into the power grid in exchange for credits from a local utility company. These credits can be put toward your future energy bills. Georgia has a net metering program through Georgia Power, but it caps out at 5,000 customers per month.
It's also worth noting that in 2011, the state government allocated $2.5 million in tax credits for solar panel installation, with the intention of spreading the funds over three years. However, the funds were spoken for within the first year, and there hasn't been a similar program since.
Federal Solar Tax Credits
Federal solar tax credits are also available to homeowners in Georgia. Currently, homeowners who install a residential solar system can claim a federal income tax credit worth 26% of their total solar installation cost. Without action from Congress, however, the credit will be phased out at the end of 2023.
Georgia Solar Regulations
Some states have laws on the books that make it easier for homeowners to embrace solar energy; others have laws that actually hinder solar adoption. For the most part, Georgia falls in the middle. Currently, there aren't many solar regulations in place to either help or hurt those trying to go solar.
If you want to make an impact on the future of renewable energy in Georgia, we recommend installing solar panels on your home, educating your neighbors about the benefits of solar and reaching out to your elected officials to urge for more solar incentives and stricter renewable energy goals.
When you think of states that have made a heavy investment in solar energy, Virginia may not be at the top of your list. Yet in recent years, Virginians have made a massive amount of progress; in 2019, the state was ranked No. 19 in the country for solar installation, and in 2020 it jumped to No. 4.
But what are the top cities for solar in Virginia? We've done some digging and come up with a comprehensive list.
Top 10 Cities for Solar in Virginia
When narrowing down the top cities for solar in Virginia, EcoWatch took into consideration solar power generation data from the Energy Information Institute, maps on solar irradiance and potential from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, local government websites and Environment America's latest Shining Cities report.
Based on this information, the top cities for solar in Virginia are as follows:
- Virginia Beach
- Newport News
Virginia's capital city ranks first in the state and 49th in the nation for total solar PV installations. According to the Shining Cities report, there are over 22 watts of solar installed per person in Richmond.
2. Virginia Beach
Although Virginia Beach is better-known for its large offshore wind energy farm, the popular tourist destination ranks second in Virginia and 61st in the nation for total solar PV installations. There are currently over five watts installed per person, per the Shining Cities report.
Alexandria earned a SolSmart Gold designation in July 2020, which is the highest designation given by the program. The city also boasts an impressive portfolio of new and promising renewable energy programs, solar feasibility studies and more.
NREL's Solar for All maps show that Norfolk boasts one of the highest potentials for solar energy generation and roof-mount capacity. Major corporations have already adopted solar in the area — the IKEA store in Norfolk even features a 180,000-square-foot solar array.
In 2012, Roanoke participated in the U.S. Department of Energy's Better Buildings Challenge with the goal of curbing energy use by 20% across 1 million square feet of building space by 2022. In 2018, Roanoke achieved that goal with a 23% energy reduction. The city remains committed to clean energy, as evidenced by its impressive Solarize Roanoke project.
Fairfax has also been designated a SolSmart Gold city and has its own Solarize Fairfax County initiative. This project, which gives residents access to free solar assessments, bulk-purchasing discounts, discounted solar batteries and more, has concluded for the 2021 season but may well return in 2022.
In addition to a city-specific solar tax credit and a Solarize Charlottesville program, the city has started putting solar panels on government buildings. Among the solarized buildings are Charlottesville High School, the City Facilities Maintenance Building and the ecoREMOD Energy House.
8. Newport News
This coastal city receives a lot of sunshine… some 215 days a year, in fact. It's no surprise, then, that NREL maps show a high capacity for rooftop solar and an above-average number of buildings suitable for solar.
According to NREL data, Danville has a high potential for rooftop solar capacity and generation, and the city is doing its part to help residents make the switch to clean energy. It has developed its own net metering program for residential solar installations up to 10 kW, as well as invested in two solar farms that are producing about 10 MW of energy to be used by Danville Utilities customers.
In March of 2014, Blacksburg became the first community in Virginia to launch a Solarize campaign, and NREL maps show it has a high potential for solar generation. This SolSmart Silver city offers many solar-focused resources for residents, including a solar panel installation checklist, information for those interested in solar jobs and guidance on solar access within the state.
Where Solar Panels Work Best
While there are many solar-smart cities in Virginia, some are better suited than others for PV installation. The best cities for solar include those that have:
- Decent sun exposure: Cities that get consistent year-round sunlight tend to be good places to invest in solar, hence the coastal communities we've included on our list.
- High local utility costs: Solar power tends to be more valuable in cities that have high electrical costs. More on that in a moment.
- Local rebates and incentives: Some cities make solar investment more attractive by implementing local net metering programs, tax rebates or other financial incentives.
Average Virginia Electricity Costs
As mentioned, residents in places with higher electricity costs stand to benefit more from installing solar panels. In Virginia, the average monthly electrical consumption is 1,122 kWh, which is roughly on par with nearby states such as South Carolina and West Virginia, though a bit higher than in Maryland or Washington, D.C. The average monthly electric bill is $135.46, which is on the high side compared to most neighboring states.
Virginia Solar Tax Incentives
Homeowners in Virginia can take advantage of a few solar tax exemptions and incentives to help offset the cost of solar panels. For example, there is a property tax exemption, which means that although solar panels will increase the value of a home, they will not increase your property taxes. Virginia also has a state-wide net metering program, which means that any surplus energy generated by solar panels can be fed back into the electric grid in exchange for credits from your utility company.
Federal Solar Tax Credits
Homeowners in Virginia (and anywhere else in the country) can also claim a residential federal tax credit worth 26% of their total solar installation cost. This can offset the initial investment expenditure considerably, but keep in mind that this credit may be phased out by 2023 unless Congress acts swiftly to renew it.
Virginia Solar Regulations
There are a few laws that impact solar adoption in Virginia. Some notable examples include:
- The Solar Rights law protects the rights of homeowners to install solar panels, without being obstructed by their homeowners association or other community association. HOAs do have some leeway to regulate the aesthetics of solar installations, however.
- Virginia's Zero Carbon Bill will create more than 30,000 solar jobs by the year 2030.
- The Virginia Clean Economy Act is set to create a number of new incentives for homeowners to go solar. It also creates robust clean energy standards for utility companies and fines providers unable to meet those standards.
Final Thoughts: Top Cities for Solar in Virginia
Solar energy presents a valuable opportunity for homeowners to lower electric bills, reduce their impact on the environment and become less dependent on traditional utilities. However, in Virginia, some cities are more solar-forward than others. If you didn't see your city on this list (and even if you did), there are plenty of ways individuals can push for more solar power in their areas. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Install solar panels on your home
- Educate your neighbors about the benefits of solar energy
- Reach out to your elected officials and urge them to set strict renewable energy goals
Solar panels allow you to harness the sun's clean, renewable energy, potentially cutting your electric bills as well as your environmental footprint. But do solar panels work on cloudy days, or during seasons of less-than-optimal sun exposure? For homeowners who live outside of the Sun Belt, this is a critical question to consider before moving ahead with solar panel installation.
In this article, we'll go over how solar panels work on cloudy days, whether solar panels work at night, and how to ensure you always have accessible power — even when your panels aren't producing solar energy.
How Solar Panels Work on Cloudy Days
Photovoltaic (PV) solar panels can use both direct and indirect sunlight to generate electrical power. This means they can still be productive even when there is cloud coverage. With that said, solar panels are most efficient and productive when they are soaking up direct sunlight on sunny days.
While solar panels still work even when the light is reflected or partially obstructed by clouds, their energy production capacity will be diminished. On average, solar panels will generate 10 to 25% of their normal power output on days with heavy cloud coverage.
With clouds usually comes rain, and here's a fact that might surprise you: Rain actually helps solar panels work more effectively. That's because rain washes away any dirt or dust that has gathered on your panels so that they can more efficiently absorb sunlight.
Do Solar Panels Work at Night?
While solar panels can still function on cloudy days, they cannot work at night. The reason for this is simple: Solar panels work because of a scientific principle called the photovoltaic effect, wherein solar cells are activated by sunlight, generating electrical current. Without light, the photovoltaic effect cannot be triggered, and no electric power can be generated.
One way to tell if your panels are still producing energy is to look at public lights. As a general rule of thumb, if street lamps or other lights are turned off — whether on cloudy days or in the evening — your solar panels will be producing energy. If they're illuminated, it's likely too dark out for your solar panel system to work.
Storing Solar Energy to Use on Cloudy Days and at Night
During hours of peak sunlight, your solar panels may actually generate more power than you need. This surplus power can be used to provide extra electricity on cloudy days or at night.
But how do you store this energy for future use? There are a couple of options to consider:
You can store surplus energy in a solar battery.
When you add a solar battery to your residential solar installation, any excess electricity can be collected and used during hours of suboptimal sun exposure, including nighttime hours and during exceptionally cloudy weather.
Batteries may allow you to run your solar PV system all day long, though there are some drawbacks of battery storage to be aware of:
- It's one more thing you need to install.
- It adds to the total cost of your solar system.
- Batteries will take up a bit of space.
- You will likely need multiple batteries if you want electricity for more than a handful of hours. For example, Tesla solar installations require two Powerwall batteries if your system is over 13 kilowatts.
You can use a net metering program.
Net metering programs enable you to transmit any excess power your system produces into your municipal electric grid, receiving credits from your utility company. Those credits can be cashed in to offset any electrical costs you incur on overcast days or at night when you cannot power your home with solar energy alone.
Net metering can ultimately be a cost-effective option and can significantly lower your electricity bills, but there are a few drawbacks to consider, including:
- You may not always break even.
- In some cases, you may still owe some money to your utility provider.
- Net metering programs are not offered in all areas and by all utility companies.
Is Residential Solar Right for You?
Now that you know solar panels can work even when the sun isn't directly shining and that there are ways to store your energy for times your panels aren't producing electricity, you may be more interested in installing your own system.
You can get started with a free, no-obligation quote from a top solar company in your area by filling out the 30-second form below.
FAQ: Do Solar Panels Work on Cloudy Days?
How efficient are solar panels on cloudy days?
It depends on the panels, but as a rule of thumb, you can expect your solar panels to work at 10 to 25% efficiency on cloudy days.
How do solar panels work when there is no sun?
If there is literally no sunlight (e.g., at night), then solar panels do not work. This is because the photovoltaic effect, which is the process through which panels convert sunlight into energy, requires there to be some light available to convert.
However, you can potentially use surplus solar power that you've stored in a battery. Also note that solar panels can work with indirect light, meaning they can function even when the sun is obscured by cloud coverage.
Do solar panels work on snowy days?
If there is cloud coverage and diminished sunlight, then solar panels will not work at their maximum efficiency level on snowy days. With that said, the snow itself is usually not a problem, particularly because a dusting of snow is easily whisked away by the wind.
Snow will only impede your solar panels if the snowfall is so extreme that the panels become completely buried, or if the weight of the snow compromises the integrity of your solar panel structures.
Will my solar panels generate electricity during cloudy, rainy or snowy days?
Cloudy days may limit your solar panel's efficiency, but you'll still be able to generate some electricity. Rainy days can actually help clean your panels, making them even more effective. And snowy days are only a problem if the snow is so extreme that the panels are totally submerged, without any part of them exposed to the sun.
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Solar power represents one of the best, most reliable forms of renewable energy. Homeowners who install solar panels can harness the sun's energy and convert it to usable electric current. In the process, they can curb or even eliminate their dependence on utility companies, and dramatically scale back their ecological impact.
Solar energy tends to be most advantageous in states that get consistent sun exposure year-round, such as Utah. Naturally, communities throughout the Beehive State have shown an admirable commitment to solar power. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, Utah installed the tenth-most solar of any state in 2020, and the ninth-most during the first quarter of 2021. But what are the top cities for solar in Utah? Let's investigate.
Top 10 Cities for Solar in Utah
When narrowing down the 10 cities leading Utah's charge toward clean energy, we looked at sources including solar power generation data from the Energy Information Administration, maps from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the latest Shining Cities report from Environment America.
Based on this data, the following are the top cities for solar in Utah:
- Salt Lake City
- Park City
- St. George
- Castle Valley
1. Salt Lake City
According to the Shining Cities report, Salt Lake City is one of the brightest "solar stars" in the nation. The report ranks the city No. 11 in the country for per-capita solar installation, or watts of DC current per person. It's also one of more than two dozen Utah municipalities that have pledged to use net-100% renewable energy by the year 2030.
Provo, south of Salt Lake City, is consistently ranked as one of the best places to live in the entire U.S. — and it's certainly a good place for solar enthusiasts. NREL maps show that consistent year-round sun exposure makes Provo well-suited for residential solar installation.
3. Park City
Park City is another municipality that has pledged to use 100% renewable energy by the year 2030, and it has a separate goal of using 100% renewable electricity for all city operations by 2022. To incentivize homeowners to go solar, the city has waived all building permit and site inspection fees for new solar installations.
4. St. George
Located close to the Arizona border, St. George is a city filled with sand dunes, desert vistas and, of course, plenty of sunlight to keep solar panels humming. In fact, the city gets an average of 255 sunny days per year — 50 more days than the average U.S. city.
This ski hub and outdoor mountain town is another municipality taking steps toward solar adoption. Ogden City Council recently voted to enter Utah's program to transition to 100% renewable energy by 2030.
Another snowy, ski-lovers paradise, Alta is also part of the pledge to use net-100% renewable energy by the year 2030. It has already installed nearly 100 solar panels on ski patrol structures, ski shops and government buildings.
7. Castle Valley
Castle Valley, just east of Utah's iconic Arches National Park, is another solar leader. In 2017, Castle Valley became the first city in the state to use 100% renewable energy, generating all of its electricity through solar panels and renewable energy credits from Rocky Mountain Power.
Orem is home to the corporate headquarters of Blue Raven Solar, one of the top solar companies not only in Utah, but in many other parts of the U.S. as well. As a municipality, it has also pledged to use 100% renewable energy by 2030.
The gateway to Zion National Park, Springdale is a more tourist-driven town. But it has signed on as a participant in Utah's program to transition to 100% renewables by 2030. Inside the park, photovoltaic panels have already been installed on the south-facing roof of the visitors center, and the Zion Lodge has a solar array and a thermal solar water heater installed as well.
Logan, located in the northern part of the state, has its own net metering program that residents are able to enroll in after installing solar panels. It also has a Green Power Program, which allows Logan City Light & Power customers to purchase "green blocks" of renewable energy at a rate of $2 per 100 kWh.
Where Solar Panels Work Best
There are a few factors that can make a city particularly well-suited for solar installation. Of course, the most important factor is the amount of sunlight the city gets from season to season. Utah's cities tend to fare pretty well in this regard, even the more mountainous and snowy locations.
Something else that makes a city well-suited for solar power is high energy costs. If a city has expensive electricity, then homeowners tend to save more money by switching to solar. By contrast, if utilities are already low, solar savings will be more modest.
Average Utah Electricity Costs
The average household monthly consumption of electricity is 727 kWh in Utah, while the average monthly residential electric bill is $75.63. This is by far the lowest rate of any state in the region, well behind neighboring states such as Arizona ($126.09 per month), Nevada ($106.83) and even New Mexico ($80.04).
Utah Solar Tax Incentives
Utah residents have a number of financial incentives for investing in solar power beyond their month-to-month utility savings. Specifically, Utah offers a residential solar tax credit. However, this credit is phasing out, which means the value of the credit isn't as high as it used to be.
For installations completed in 2021, the maximum tax credit will be $1,200. In the year to come, the tax credit will be capped at $800. In 2023, it will go down to $400. After that, unless the state's legislature extends the credit, the program will be phased out completely.
Also note that Utah offers net metering, which means that if your solar panels generate more electricity than you really need, you can feed it back into the power grid in exchange for credits.
Federal Solar Tax Credits
In Utah, as in the rest of the country, homeowners can also claim a 26% tax credit when they install a residential solar system. This credit exists to make solar installation more affordable and more widely accessible.
Utah Solar Regulations
Though Utah does not have a ton of solar regulations to be aware of, there are a couple that are worth noting:
- Senate Bill 154 limits the power of homeowners associations to restrict solar installations within their communities.
- Utah also has laws to protect solar easements, which are written agreements between property owners to protect long-term access to sunlight.
Final Thoughts: Top Cities for Solar in Utah
Utah is a city leading the charge toward solar in the U.S., but there's always room for improvement. If your city didn't make our top list of solar stars in Utah, there are a few ways to raise your area's solar profile. These include:
- Installing a solar PV system on your own roof
- Educating your neighbors about the benefits of solar energy
- If your city has not already joined Utah's commitment to 100% renewable energy, contact your elected officials to urge for stricter goals
Many homeowners can benefit from installing solar panels, harnessing the sun's energy to help reduce or even eliminate their dependence on traditional utilities. Although solar panels can be expensive, solar loans make residential systems more accessible to homeowners.
Indeed, if you live in an area that gets consistent year-round exposure to the sun, solar panels can be an effective way to lower your home's energy costs while minimizing your environmental footprint. The biggest obstacle to solar adoption is the initial cost of solar panels.
All in, solar panel installation costs typically range from $10,000 to $35,000. In this article, we'll explain how solar loans can make that initial investment much easier to handle.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on for and is not intended to provide accounting, legal or tax advice.
Solar Loan Basics
So, how do solar loans work, exactly? Well, they're similar to home improvement loans, or any other type of purchase loan: They enable you to buy a residential solar system and pay it off over time.
There are plenty of solar loan options to choose from. For example, to finance solar panels, you can typically choose from any of the following:
- An unsecured personal loan
- A home equity loan or line of credit
- In-house financing through your solar installation company
For the most part, the terms and conditions of solar loans mimic those of any other standard loan. Specifically:
- Getting a lower interest rate means having a lower overall cost to borrow.
- A shorter loan term generally means higher monthly loan payments but a lower overall cost to borrow.
- Loans are available in a wide array of interest rates, term lengths, loan amounts, credit requirements, etc.
An important thing to note is that homeowners who finance their solar energy systems with a loan are still eligible for the federal solar tax credit. This gives you a credit worth 26% of your total solar installation costs.
How to Choose the Right Solar Loan
As you seek the best solar loan for your situation, there are a number of factors to keep in mind. These include:
- Monthly payment amount: If you end up choosing a shorter loan term (i.e., a loan that you must pay off in a shorter amount of time), your monthly payments will probably be higher. The overall cost of the loan will be lower, but it's nevertheless important to consider the impact on your household budget.
- Down payment amount: Depending on the loan you choose, you may or may not be required to put down a payment on the solar panels. Generally, larger down payments will mean lower interest rates and a more affordable loan overall.
- Fees: Some solar lenders may charge prepayment penalties or monthly fees in addition to your monthly principal and interest payments. Always make sure you get fee information upfront, so as to ensure there are no surprises on your loan statement.
Secured Vs. Unsecured Solar Loans
Another important factor to consider is whether you'll get a secured solar loan or an unsecured solar loan. Here's what homeowners should know about these two options:
- Secured loans are usually connected to some piece of collateral, such as a piece of equity in your house; this provides the lender with some protection. If you fail to make your payments, the lender can claim their piece of collateral. Because the lender has some insurance, secured loans usually offer lower interest rates and more favorable terms overall.
- Unsecured loans do not have any collateral or security provisions for the lender. They represent a greater risk on the lender's part, and thus usually come with higher interest rates and less favorable terms.
Ultimately, the decision about which type of loan to seek comes down to this question: Do you have enough equity in your home to take out a secured loan? If so, and if you are willing to use some of that home equity to pay for solar panels, then a secured loan may be the smarter choice overall.
How to Get Low Interest Rates for Solar Loans
In addition to choosing the right type of loan, there are other steps you can take to keep your interest rates manageable when you finance a solar panel system:
- Shop around: It's usually best not to go with the very first lender you find. Spend some time shopping around and comparing rates. Most lenders will give you a free quote that's good for a number of days while you compare offers from other companies.
- Have someone co-sign: Having a co-signer on your solar loan — especially one with excellent credit — creates extra assurances for the lender and will usually result in more favorable rates.
- Improve your credit score: There are several ways to improve your credit score to get a lower interest rate on a solar loan. For example, you can pay down old debts and credit card balances, be on time with monthly bill payments, and ensure you don't open any new credit cards as you apply for your solar loan.
Also be aware that there are things you can do to pay less over time other than getting a lower interest rate. Examples include choosing a shorter repayment period, looking for discounts like paperless or auto-pay discounts, avoiding loans with high fees and, if applicable, making a more substantial down payment.
Local Solar Loan Programs
Homeowners who are interested in going solar should also know about Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) loan programs. According to the Department of Energy, PACE programs "allow a property owner to finance the up-front cost of energy or other eligible improvements on a property and then pay the costs back over time through a voluntary assessment." What makes these programs unique is that the assessment is tied to the property itself, not to the individual.
PACE financing legislation exists in some form in 36 states plus Washington D.C. A handful of states have separate loan programs for homeowners interested in solar. Here are some current programs worth knowing about:
|State||Solar Loan Program||
|Connecticut||Energy Conservation Loan Program||$25,000||0% to 7%||12 years|
|Louisiana||Home Energy Loan Program (HELP)||$6,000||2%||5 years|
|Michigan||Michigan Saves Home Energy Financing||$50,000||4.44% to 7.90%||15 years|
|North Carolina||State-regulated municipal loan options||Varies||Up to 8%||20 years|
Energy Conservation for Ohioans
3% APR reduction
on bank loans
Additionally, certain municipalities and local utility companies may offer low-interest solar loans. We recommend researching your specific area before turning to banks or credit institutions.
Where to Get a Solar Loan
If your state doesn't have its own solar energy loan program or you're not eligible for enrollment, there are plenty of other places to get solar loans. Some of the best places to check include:
- Credit unions
- Lending institutions
- In-house financing through your solar installer (which will come from a third-party solar lender)
Again, it's crucial to shop around and compare rates before deciding on which solar lender is the best fit for your needs. To get started with a free quote and find solar loan information from a top solar company in your area, you can fill out the form below.
Frequently Asked Questions: Solar Loans
Are solar loans worth it?
There are various factors to consider as you decide whether getting a solar loan is worth it. Solar loans help you increase the value of your property, lower utility bills, minimize your impact on the environment and potentially claim some tax incentives. Then again, financing does decrease your overall savings, and extends the break-even point for your residential solar system.
Do banks do solar loans?
Some banks do offer solar loans, though often with interest rates that exceed what you'd pay elsewhere. It may be worth checking with your local bank, but always remember to shop around and compare.
What is the best way to finance solar?
If you have sufficient home equity, a secured solar loan is often the most cost-effective approach. If you don't have sufficient home equity, an unsecured solar loan can work just fine.
What type of loan is a solar panel loan?
Solar panel loans are generally considered to be a type of personal loan, similar to a home improvement loan.
Can you buy a solar battery with a solar loan?
Most often the answer is yes, but make sure you double-check the terms of your loan.
solar energy systems provide homeowners with a way to minimize their environmental impact and reduce their dependence on electric utilities. One of the biggest obstacles to going solar is the cost of installation, but thankfully, there are a number of solar financing options that homeowners can choose from.
In this article, we'll break down avenues for solar financing including paying in cash, taking out a loan and solar panel leasing. Read on to learn which option might be the best choice for you.
To find out more about the cost of solar for your home and receive a free, no-obligation quote, fill out the form below to get connected with a solar installer in your area,
Most Common Solar Financing Options to Choose From
When buying solar panels, there are generally three ways for homeowners to pay for their systems: cash, loan or lease.
1. Paying for Solar Panels in Cash
For homeowners who wish to maximize their savings, paying in cash is the optimal way to go. After all, by buying a residential solar system outright, you're essentially paying in advance for 25 to 30 years of electricity to use in your home. This means your energy rates are locked in for decades, and you don't have to worry about inflation or rising utility costs.
The big problem with paying in cash is that the upfront cost of solar equipment tends to be fairly high. Even when you take into account incentives like federal tax credits and rebates, you're looking at an investment of at least $10,000 to $15,000. This isn't going to be feasible for every homeowner.
2. Solar Financing Through Loans
Another option is to borrow money from a solar lender, using it to finance your solar installation, then paying it back over time. The most common types of solar loans include unsecured personal loans, home equity loans or lines of credit, and in-house financing through your solar panel installation company.
If you choose a loan as your solar financing route, pay special attention to your annual percentage rate (APR), origination fees and loan terms. How much you pay in interest, fees, and your repayment period will often increase the overall cost of your renewable energy system. However, rest assured that homeowners who finance their systems with a loan are still eligible for the federal solar investment tax credit, which may make it a bit easier to pay off that loan.
Some states and local governments have low-interest loan programs for clean energy systems that you can take advantage of, such as Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) loans. Borrowers sometimes have solar programs as well, like Fannie Mae's HomeStyle® Energy mortgage.
If you're interested in paying for a solar installation via a loan, make sure you research all low-interest financing options available to you.
3. Leasing Solar Panels
Homeowners may also choose to either lease their solar panels or participate in a power purchase agreement (PPA), through which you buy the electricity the panels on your roof are producing.
Solar leases and PPAs are pretty similar, but with one significant difference: A solar lease means you're making fixed monthly payments to use solar panels and other solar equipment, whereas a PPA means you're making monthly payments simply for the electricity produced by solar panels. Naturally, the amount of electricity may fluctuate quite a bit from month to month.
Solar leases can seem attractive at first, but for most homeowners, they don't make much financial sense. One reason for this is that homeowners in PPAs or leases are not eligible for the federal solar tax credit. Another thing to note is that solar leases don't enhance your property values, which can be one of the big financial incentives of a residential solar system. Other financing options will allow you to save a lot more money in the long run.
Which Solar Financing Option is Right for You?
Ultimately, the way you choose to pay for your solar panel system will depend on a number of factors, including your expendable income, your credit score and ability to get a good loan rate, and more.
Here's a breakdown of which type of solar panel financing may be right for which homeowners:
|Solar Financing Option||Who it May Be Right For|
|Solar lease or PPA||
Saving Money on Solar Power
While the initial solar investment can be steep, there are options available to homeowners who wish to save money on their solar installation.
- Federal solar tax credit: Currently, installing a solar system qualifies you for a tax credit that's worth 26% of the total equipment and installation cost. (This number is set to decline in the coming years, so to take full advantage of it, act soon.)
- Local utility rebates: Many municipal utility companies offer rebates to homeowners who go solar. Research your local utility providers to learn more.
- Net metering: Also see if there is a net metering program available in your area. Net metering gives you the opportunity to funnel any surplus energy you generate back into the electrical grid, in exchange for a credit from your utility company.
- Shopping around: Finally, remember that not all solar installers are created equal. Shop around and compare quotes to ensure you're getting the best value.
To start with a free, no-obligation quote from a top solar company near you, fill out our 30-second form below.
Frequently Asked Questions: Solar Financing
What is the best way to finance solar?
If you have the funds, paying in cash is the most advantageous way to finance solar. For those without the funds, a solar loan is usually the best way to go. For most homeowners, leasing doesn't make as much financial sense.
Are financing options available for solar?
Yes, there are plenty of ways to finance solar panels. Banks, credit unions and even some solar installers offer their own lines of credit, specifically to be used for installing solar equipment.
Is it smart to finance solar panels?
For those without the funds to buy solar equipment outright, financing solar panels can be a flexible and affordable way to lower monthly utility bills and reduce environmental impact.
Are solar loans worth it?
Taking out a solar loan delays your break-even point, but it still lets you cut your electric bills and enhance your property value. For many homeowners, solar loans are well worth it.
Can you rent solar panels?
Yes, leasing solar panels is an option. However, for most homeowners, it is not financially prudent to do so.
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Solar energy is most frequently associated with states smack in the middle of the Sun Belt. And yet, there are some notable outliers, with New York being foremost among them. According to data from the Solar Energy Industries Association, New York installed the eighth-most solar of any state in 2020. And in the first quarter of 2021, New York was ranked No. 10 in the nation for solar installations.
There are a number of reasons New York tends to be a top state for solar, not least of which is its excellent solar incentives. However, some cities in New York are more commendable in their solar investment than others. In this article, we'll rank the top 10 top cities for solar in New York.
Top 10 Cities for Solar in New York
EcoWatch narrowed down these cities based on solar power generation data compiled by the Energy Information Administration, annual solar irradiance and Solar For All maps from National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and the most recent Shining Cities report from Environment America.
Based on this research, here are the top 10 cities for solar energy in New York:
- New York City
- Oyster Bay
1. New York City
It's no surprise that magnificent New York City leads solar panel installation in the Empire State. According to Environment America, New York City is ranked No. 6 in the entire country for total installed solar PV capacity, coming in just behind Los Angeles, San Diego, Honolulu, Phoenix and San Antonio.
The Shining Cities report lists Buffalo as another of the nation's solar leaders, as it has over 30 watts installed solar PV per person. Overall, it ranks 40th in the U.S. for total installed solar wattage.
A coastal suburb of New York City, Brookhaven gets a decent amount of exposure to the sun all year long, making it ideally positioned for solar investment. It is also home to the Long Island Solar Farm, one of the largest photovoltaic arrays on the East Coast.
Huntington, on Long Island, gets plenty of natural light year-round, meaning it's a good place to commit to solar power. According to NREL maps, Huntington is located within the portion of the state that has the highest potential for solar power generation in the state of New York.
Southwest of Huntington, Hempstead is another high-sunlight city, and both residents and the local government have taken advantage of this with investments in clean, renewable energy. The city installed a number of solar-powered electric vehicle charging stations, as well as a solar- and wind-powered shellfish nursery to improve the area's clam beds.
One of the most populous cities in the state, Amherst is full of solar adopters who have committed heavily to solar energy. The town is located in western New York and has made leaps toward embracing solar on public buildings. It currently has solar arrays that power a community center and a water pollution control facility, and it is now looking to install panels at other government buildings, police stations, libraries and more.
Located on Lake Ontario, this old industrial town has one of the state's highest potentials for solar generation, according to NREL maps. It also has an above-average number of single-family homes that are already well-suited for solar PV installations.
Syracuse is one of the cloudiest cities in the U.S., but luckily, solar panels still work on cloudy days. The Upstate New York city is quickly becoming a hotspot for solar energy, with multiple companies proposing solar farms in Syracuse suburbs.
The city recently launched a partnership with nonprofits Sustainable Westchester and Groundwork Hudson Valley to launch five community solar projects throughout the city. This will give residents up to 10% off their electricity bills while also making strides toward a greener local energy supply.
10. Oyster Bay
Situated on the north shore of Long Island, Oyster Bay gets enough sun exposure to make it a great place for solar power. It's located next to Huntington, and NREL maps show it shares the city's high potential for solar power generation.
Where Solar Panels Work Best
What makes a community especially well-suited for solar power?
There are a couple of important factors to consider. One, of course, is exposure to sunlight throughout the course of the year. New York isn't quite as sun-soaked as, say, Arizona, Texas or Florida. With that said, there are a number of communities in New York that get decent solar exposure — enough to make solar energy viable.
Also, it doesn't have to be hot outside for solar panels to produce energy. In fact, solar panels, like most appliances, work most efficiently in cooler temperatures.
Another consideration is local electricity costs. In places where utilities are expensive, homeowners can realize big savings when they switch to solar. But when electricity is already pretty inexpensive, solar savings tend to be more modest.
Average New York Electricity Costs
So, how much does electrical power cost in the state of New York?
According to data from the EIA, New York's annual monthly consumption of electricity is 577 kWh, which is actually quite a bit less than in neighboring states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The average monthly cost of electricity is $103.60; again, this is less than in neighboring states, but only slightly.
New York Solar Tax Incentives
One of the reasons why New York is such a great state for solar is that there are so many financial incentives available. In fact, it's one of the top states for solar tax incentives in the U.S.
Start with the net metering program. The statewide net metering program allows homeowners to feed any surplus power their panels generate back into the electrical grid. This results in financial credits that can be used when they need to pull energy from the grid, such as to power their homes at night.
Additional tax incentives available to New York homeowners include:
- NY-Sun Megawatt Block incentive: This New York State incentive allows homeowners to claim a dollars-per-watt ($/W) cash rebate for their systems.
- Solar Energy System Equipment Credit: Residents can deduct up to $5,000 or 25% of total solar energy expenses (whichever is lower) from their taxes. This is available for homeowners who are leasing solar panels as well.
- State sales tax exemption: Homeowners do not pay the state's 4% sales tax when they purchase solar equipment.
Federal Solar Tax Incentives
It's also important to note that all Americans can claim the federal solar tax credit, which is worth 26% of their total investment. This credit exists to make the cost of solar panels even more accessible to homeowners.
New York Solar Regulations
New York State has a number of laws on the books that pertain to solar energy, and for the most part, they all represent a significant commitment to clean, renewable power sources. One good example is the Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth Act, which calls for large-scale solar projects throughout the state. Another is the praiseworthy NY-Sun program, which offers incentives to communities that wish to develop shared solar resources and community solar programs.
And last but certainly not least, there's the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which was signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in July 2019 and requires New York to obtain 70% of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030.
Final Thoughts: Top Cities for Solar in New York
The Empire State's commitment to renewable energy shines through its gracious financial incentives and many cities pivoting toward solar power.
If your city didn't earn a spot on our list of the top cities for solar in New York, there are a few things you can do to increase your area's solar profile. For example, you can urge your elected officials to adopt renewable energy goals, educate your neighbors on the benefits of solar and, of course, install a solar PV system on your own rooftop.
By doing these things, you can impact the future of clean energy in New York.
As you seek to optimize the performance of your residential solar panels, there are a number of factors to consider. One thing you'll want to think about is the best direction for solar panels. The orientation of your roof in relation to the sun can have a huge impact on overall solar efficiency.
In this article, we'll outline the best direction for solar panel orientation as well as the optimal angle. We'll also explain solar tracking technology, which can ensure your panels face the sun for as long as possible each day. Read on to learn more.
Basics of Solar Panel Orientation
So, what is the best direction for solar panels? For homeowners who live in the Northern Hemisphere, the rule of thumb is that solar panels should be oriented toward true south. (For those in the Southern Hemisphere, solar panels should be oriented toward true north.) This is the best orientation because it ensures that solar panels receive direct sunlight throughout the day.
It's also worth noting that solar panels are most efficient when the sun's rays strike them perpendicularly. Again, this true south/true north orientation can be helpful, but angle also plays a large part in this parameter.
Best Direction for Solar Panels
As you consider solar panel installation, it's crucial to remember that, for the highest energy production, you'll want your panels to receive direct sunlight throughout the day. Again, for those who live in the Northern Hemisphere, this means orienting your panels toward true south, and vice versa in the Southern Hemisphere.
Note that, when we talk about true south, we're talking about geographic south, not magnetic south. In other words, you should orient your solar energy system based on the lines of longitude on a map, not by the directions on a compass.
Something else to keep in mind is that it may be beneficial to have a rotation slightly away from the best direction if you want to adjust the hours that your solar panels provide you energy (like facing them southwest to get more energy in the late afternoon as the sun is setting).
Hopefully, you have a south-facing roof that is optimally positioned for your solar panels. If the orientation of your roof isn't quite right, however, that doesn't mean solar power is off the table. There are several other options to consider, including solar carports and ground-mounted solar panels that can utilize south-facing panels for optimum electricity production.
Best Angle for Solar Panels
In addition to choosing the best direction for your solar panels, it's also helpful to select the right angle. Here, the general rule of thumb is to set the solar panel tilt angle equal to the geographical latitude. In other words, if you're at 35 degrees latitude, set your panels at a 35-degree angle.
The angle of your solar panels will help ensure the sun hits them perpendicularly, promoting the highest solar production and, thus, the highest electricity bill savings for your household.
With that said, you'll also want to consider how weather impacts solar panels. A good example of this is heavy snowfall. If you live in a part of the country where there is excessive snow accumulation, that could ultimately impede the efficacy of your solar panels. By tilting your panels at a sharper angle, you can minimize the buildup of snow or other debris.
This may all sound technical, but it's worth noting that professional solar installers will work with you to design a solar power system that works optimally; that includes recommending where to place your panels, how to angle them and more.
Solar Panel Tracking Systems
For ground-mounted panels, you might also consider installing a solar panel tracking system. Solar trackers maximize panel efficiency by rotating your panels throughout the day, allowing them to follow the movement of the sun from its rise to its set.
Just how much more efficient can a tracker make your solar panel system? One study showed that on a clear day, the average efficiency of a tracking panel was about 67%, while fixed panels only got about 40% efficiency.
As you consider solar panel tracking systems, you'll need to decide between a single-axis or a dual-axis system. Single-axis systems only move in one direction, typically north to south. A dual-axis system allows for movement along the north-south axis and the east-west axis.
Dual-axis systems take up more space, and thus are mostly used in commercial settings. They can certainly be effective, enabling your solar panels to reposition in accordance with changing seasons when the sun is higher or lower in the sky, but they typically aren't necessary for residential use.
Are Solar Panels Right for Your Home?
When deciding whether solar panels are worth it for your home, roof position should always be taken into consideration.
Most reputable solar installers offer free home consultations, during which a representative will survey your roof and let you know whether rooftop solar would be a good idea based on your roof's positioning and how much sunlight your home receives throughout the year.
To get a free, no-obligation quote and set up a consultation with a top solar company near you, fill out the 30-second form below.
FAQ: Best Direction for Solar Panels
Is east or west better for solar panels?
For most homeowners in the Northern Hemisphere, panels need to face toward the geographic south, but not necessarily toward the east or west. The north-south axis tends to be more determinative of a solar panel's efficiency.
Should solar panels face south or west?
For homeowners in the Northern Hemisphere, geographic south is typically the best direction for solar panels.
Do solar panels need to be south facing?
For homeowners who live in the Northern Hemisphere, it is recommended that solar panels be oriented toward geographic south (as opposed to magnetic south). In other words, orient your panels according to lines of longitude rather than magnetic poles.
Which is the best direction to face solar panels in Australia?
For Australian homeowners, north-facing solar panels tend to be most effective, though a professional installer can give a more specific recommendation.
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With the adoption of solar panels, homeowners have the opportunity to derive clean energy directly from the sun. When a homeowner decides to install solar panels on their home, they make the decision to combat greenhouse gas emissions, reduce their carbon footprint and minimize humanity's collective dependence on traditional forms of energy. Moreover, they stand to benefit by saving money through lowered utility bills. Solar energy has been embraced by homeowners across the U.S., and this is especially true in Massachusetts.
According to a recent report from the Solar Energy Industries Association, Massachusetts ranks eighth in the nation for solar panel installation, with the state generating 18.49% of its total electricity from solar. The state's total investment in solar is $9.1 billion, and it is anticipated that this number is only going to grow in the next few years as more homeowners realize the astounding benefits presented by solar energy. With that thought in mind, you may be wondering: What are the top cities for solar in Massachusetts?
Top 10 Cities for Solar in Massachusetts
Our team has engaged in extensive research to determine the top 10 cities for solar in Massachusetts. We examined varied studies, maps and data compiled by the Energy Information Administration, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Environment America. This work has allowed us to determine the cities in Massachusetts that are the state's solar leaders.
- New Bedford
Boston is ranked first in Massachusetts and 20th in the nation for total installed solar PV capacity, according to Environment America's latest Shining Cities report. The city boasts over 340 MW in rooftop solar potential on small buildings and 55.51 MW per person of currently installed solar PV. It is estimated that a Bostonian who installs rooftop solar panels stands to realize $30,000 in savings on their electricity over the course of 20 years.
Lowell comes in second in the state. The city actively encourages its residents, businesses and institutions to adopt solar energy and aggressively seeks to educate stakeholders in Lowell about how solar can positively impact the community and increase the standard of living. Plus, Lowell has allowed for solar to be permitted anywhere and made extensive changes in zoning.
Home of some of the world's leading academic institutions, think tanks and the like, there is little surprise that Cambridge checks in at No. 3 on our list of top cities for solar in Massachusetts. The city engages in climate-change planning and has myriad energy-efficiency and renewable-energy programs, consistently seeking to help residents and small businesses reduce energy consumption while investing in renewable energy technology. The city is committed to achieving net-zero building emissions by 2050.
Located on the Merrimack River, Lawrence has a population of about 80,000 and has been known as an industrial center since the 19th century. However, the city has gone through a substantial shift in recent years, seeking to transition from old forms of energy to innovative renewables. Lawrence has transitioned some of its major departments and schools to solar and aggressively promotes state tax incentive programs and rebates to area residents.
Another city committed to enabling a greener future for its residents, Worcester recently converted an area landfill into a solar farm that covers 52 acres of land. It is recognized as the largest solar array in New England with the ability to produce enough energy to power over 1,300 homes annually.
Here is a city that has embraced solar since 2004, when it built the first fully registered photovoltaic solar energy system. Since then, the city has continued to promote the adoption of solar energy, which has resulted in the installation of solar panels on hundreds of area homes as well as businesses. Framingham is a city that is truly dedicated to realizing a green future.
Another top city for solar in Massachusetts, Salem encourages education on solar as well as other forms of renewable energy. In 2016, the city resolved to implement 100% renewable energy by 2050 and is actively driving to achieve that goal, partly through the installation of solar PV systems.
8. New Bedford
The average homeowner in New Bedford can reap $31,000 in savings over the course of 20 years if they implement solar, so there is little wonder as to why this city is in the top 10 in Massachusetts. In fact, it has been recognized as a leading renewable community according to Environment Massachusetts and is also another municipality that is working toward achieving 100% clean energy adoption.
Home to a number of solar energy equipment companies and suppliers, Springfield is one of multiple communities across Massachusetts that hosts a solar plant that is owned and operated by Eversource. In Springfield, solar is easy to access and it's affordable, which only encourages residents to transition to this type of energy.
Falmouth is our final top city for solar in Massachusetts. It has robust renewable energy programs, and its residents are focused on making their Cape Cod community one of the leaders for renewables not only in the state, but also in the country. Additionally, Falmouth has an energy-saving program to help families in need make the switch to solar.
Where Does Solar Make the Most Sense?
It is true that solar panels tend to work best in places where there is abundant sunshine year-round, which could cast some doubt on the effectiveness of solar in Massachusetts, a state known for its long winters. However, this is a misconception, as Massachusetts is an excellent location for solar systems.
Firstly, solar panels work well in cold, winter weather and actually tend to be more efficient in colder temperatures. This, then, makes natural sense in Massachusetts. Additionally, solar is a wise choice in this state because the cost of electricity is high.
Average Massachusetts Electricity Costs
Based on a report compiled by EIA, the average monthly electric bill for a Massachusetts home is $125.89, with average monthly consumption clocking in at 574 kWh. Even though Massachusetts is the most populous state in the New England region, the state isn't the biggest spender when it comes to a monthly electric bill. In fact, Massachusetts trails just behind Connecticut in the No. 2 spot. However, the average price in cents per kWh is 21.92, making Massachusetts the costliest overall.
In places with high energy costs, homeowners can save even more money and recoup their initial investments faster. On the other hand, if electrical costs are low or moderate, an investment in solar energy isn't as significant.
Massachusetts Solar Tax Incentives
Another important thing to consider when contemplating solar in Massachusetts is the state's tax incentives. Massachusetts homeowners can take advantage of the following programs when they adopt solar energy:
|Massachusetts Personal Income Tax Credit||Homeowners can receive a credit equaling $1,000 or 15% of project costs that qualify — whichever is less.|
|Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) Program||This incentive is paid to residential solar system owners on behalf of Massachusetts-based investor-owned electric utilities. Participants will receive incentive payments via check or electronic payment on a monthly basis and can be enrolled in the program for 10 years.|
||This is a group solar buying program that offers discounts to residents who are located in participating communities.|
|Municipal Light Plant Solar Rebate Program||This program offers a rebate for solar photovoltaic system installation of 25 kW or less. It is available in certain Municipal Light Plant service territories.|
Massachusetts also has a statewide net metering program, which enables customers to receive credits on their utility bill for excess solar power generation in any month. Utility credits can be cashed in for electricity when your system is not generating power, such as at night. Net metering credit values depend on varied factors, including the size of your system. Residents are encouraged to learn more in order to find out if they qualify.
Federal Solar Tax Credits
Residents of Massachusetts can combine the above incentives with the federal solar tax credit to save even more on the cost of solar panels. The federal investment tax credit (ITC) is one of the key incentives for solar energy adoption in the U.S. Currently, the ITC allows American homeowners to receive a tax credit equal to 26% of the total price of their system installation and materials.
Massachusetts Solar Regulations
In 2020, Massachusetts filed emergency regulations pertaining to its SMART program. New rules were established that changed the criteria for land use and project siting. The state is ultimately seeking to move away from using greenfield sites or ecologically valuable areas for solar, instead focusing on properties where development is already underway.
The regulations also doubled the size of the program related to new solar generating capacity. This will ensure land is used properly as solar expands within the property development industry and becomes more popular among landowners.
Final Thoughts: Top Cities for Solar in Massachusetts
It's clear to see that Massachusetts is taking leaps toward becoming more renewable-friendly, which has earned it a position as one of the top states for solar energy in the U.S., but there's always room for improvement.
If your city didn't make our top list of the top cities for solar in Massachusetts, there are a few ways to raise your area's solar profile. These include:
- Contacting your elected officials to lobby for stricter renewable energy goals
- Installing a solar PV system on your own roof
- Educating your neighbors about the benefits of solar energy
By doing these things, you can impact the future of renewable energy in Massachusetts.