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 "Incentives and Rebates For Solar..." 
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Post "Incentives and Rebates For Solar..."
Incentives and Rebates For Solar Energy Systems For Homeowners
by: Kriss Bergethon

Uncle Sam is continuing to make it easier for homeowners to include solar energy as a viable, and affordable, means of powering their homes. Not to be outdone, the majority of states are also devising ways to encourage their residents to "switch on" to renewable energy, many times through electric companies. Renewable energy includes leveraging the power of the sun. Here are some examples of how both forms of government are attempting to do so. Be sure to check out for more information on all incentives as they can be complicated and are constantly changing.

Federal Tax Credits

With the adoption of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and the subsequent Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008, Americans are now eligible for a 30% rebate through the Federal Government toward a residential solar power system. In addition, there is now no limit to the amount that can be claimed toward the cost of a photovoltaic system. In the past, the amount was restricted to $2,000. The rebate currently covers both the cost of the materials and the labor. For example, a PV system with a cost of $25,000 would be eligible for a $7,500 credit. A credit, unlike a deduction, is applied directly to the taxes owed, so would therefore reduce your total taxes owed to the IRS by $7,500.

Along with their normal tax forms, residents would use IRS Form 5695 to earn their rebate. Something to keep in mind however is how this relates to other incentive programs. Talk to your accountant on how to treat this credit, plus any other rebates and incentives you might be receiving. Generally the 30% credit is taken on the cost of a system AFTER other rebates.

Municipal Financing

Another attempt at making solar power attainable for the everyday homeowner is a program that allows the cost of the PV to be covered by municipal tax funds over an extended period of time. In most case, this payment plan lasts for twenty years. If the home is sold before that period is up, the solar power system, and whatever tax liability remains, go to the new owner of the home. The program is usually funded by municipal bonds. Many cities in California have incorporated this program, as well as some cities in Colorado, Maryland, and Louisiana.

Net Metering

Many energy companies are implementing programs that enable residents with a photovoltaic system to "sell" the extra electricity they obtain back to their energy companies. If the customer's system generates more than they consume the specially built meter simply spins backwards. All utilities in the US are required to purchase back consumer-produced power, but the rates at which they do so varies widely.

Renewable Energy Credit (REC)

Producing renewable energy is a seen as a good thing of course, and installing a system can create a credit which traditional utilities and state governments want to buy. This usually takes form as a check written directly to the homeowner for a percentage of the system. In Colorado for example, Xcel energy will pay $1.50 per watt in REC's when you install a system and connect it to their grid. Some manufacturers, such as Sharp, will even deduct this amount off the price of the system and then pursue the credit from the utility. This makes it easier for the customer to afford the system since they wont have to wait for the utility rebate, which can take a few months.

Feed-in Tariffs (FiT)

As an extension to the process of buying back energy, the state of California and the city of Gainesville, Florida have begun enacting feed-in tariffs (FiT). FiT's are designed to pay for the installation of a solar power system plus a small profit. California electrical company, Southern California Edison, requires that clients sign a long-term contract for 5, 10, or 15 years, but the price is adjusted based on the time of day of the power generation. For example, for a system producing power throughout the day, a 15-year contract signed with SCE would earn about 15 cents per kilowatt-hour on a summer weekday, while a system generating power from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (such as a solar power system), would earn about 22 cents per kilowatt-hour under the same circumstances. Overall, the tariffs range from 8 to 81 cents per kilowatt-hour. This encourages both production of renewable energy and conservation of existing energy since every penny a producer saves off consumption will go straight to their pocket in production. However, sometimes residents earning the tariff cannot participate in other state incentive programs.

About The Author
Kriss Bergethon is a writer and solar expert from Colorado.

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[Note: Due to a size limitation, the title, above, had to be abbreviated. Apologies to the author and - Admin]
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Sat Feb 06, 2010 7:40 am
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