Intro to Solar and Why Subsidies Make it A No Brainer
Relative to the rest of California, Fresno has cheaper living expenses. Making it a perfect candidate for residential and commercial venues to take advantage of federal and state subsidies. Not to mention having to run the heater a good amount in the winter, and increasingly the A/C all summer. Do you want to switch to solar power but are afraid of the cost? Are you wondering if installing solar panels would be worthwhile? Well below we’re going to try to convince you that there’s not better time to adopt Solar.
The solar industry in Fresno is booming. Just another California city that has come up with an innovative way to encourage its citizens to participate in solar energy systems. Especially in Fresno’s agriculture sector. Yet the ag industry is hurting. Farmers need to adopt solar to cut their energy costs and invest in a sustainable energy solution. So haven’t so many commercial sectors installed solar yet?
What is solar power anyway, and why should you be interested in it?
Solar power is produced when sunlight is converted into electricity. One way of producing it is through photovoltaic systems utilizing solar panels on rooftops or on ground-mounted solar farms. Switching to solar has become a trend not only in California, or the U.S. for that matter, but the whole world. The intention is to reduce the costs of electricity to homeowners and, more significantly, to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.
In the United States, the use of fossil and nuclear fuels constitutes 95% of electricity generated; coal, 50%; nuclear fission, 20%; natural gas, 20%; and petroleum, 3%. Most of these sources have steadily increased environmental pollution, triggered drastic climate change, and caused a number of health problems.
These problems have already reached the global scale, that several developed countries have turned to solar power use, building notable solar power capacity into their grids as a supplement or alternative to the typical energy sources. So have less developed nations, in an effort to diminish reliance on importing expensive fuels.
Some years back, the U.S. found itself lagging behind other industrialized nations in terms of adopting clean and renewable power sources. One would have thought that America, with its huge tracts of land, and its perspicacity and proclivity for cutting-edge technology, would be on the forefront of this movement. But this was not the case.
Cost was one major reason for this. Solar was a more expensive and less cost-effective power source. Sourcing power from local utilities which made use of coal or natural gas for mere pennies-on-the-dollar rate came out cheaper.
So, is there a way that eases up the burden of cost for a solar power system to be installed?
In answer to this, the federal sector came up with legislation to encourage the switch to solar. Federal- and state-level incentives have been instituted to promote the use of solar energy systems. Because of these incentives, many states have turned more toward solar power as an alternative. California is one state that rates highly among the U.S. states in the use of solar and in fact leads in terms of the most number of homes with solar panels installed.
There are several federal incentives for encouraging solar, including income tax credits for residential energy efficiency. The incentives were renewed and available for purchases made in the current year, expiring Dec. 31, 2016. These are retroactive for 2015 purchases.
The tax credit comes up to 10% of cost up to $500 for purchases including EPA-compliant biomass stoves, insulation, and central air conditioning. And if you are wondering about the purchase of rooftop solar panels Fresno residents get the same credit for as long as the installation is in your present and principal residence. However, this does not apply to new constructions or rentals.
Purchase of geothermal heat pumps, solar energy systems as well as wind turbines (small, residential type) qualifies for federal tax credit of 30%, which expires Dec. 31 and is without an upper limit. The tax credit applies both to existing as well as new homes. For solar energy systems, the incentive applies until 2019, decreases to 26% by the year 2020 then to 22% for 2021, expiring Dec. 31, 2021.
In the meantime, the purchase of fuel cells and microturbine systems also qualifies you for 30% of the cost, again with no upper limits until Dec. 31. The principal residence whether existing or newly constructed qualifies while secondary homes and rentals do not.
Remember that this type of incentive is only one of many the federal program offers. These have an expiration, and some states may choose not to adopt such a policy. If we talk of solar power systems and the use of solar panels Fresno homeowners such as yourself could make use of the nearest utility company to provide needs assessment and answer specific questions.
On a statewide level, California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard decrees that a particular percentage of all energy generation must come from a renewable power source by a certain date indicated. The target is 100% by 2045.
Utilities are tasked to meet such targets by generating renewable energy or buying it from customers. In the event that utilities fall short of the standard, they are charged very high fees which is why such utilities would rather offer homeowners solar incentives, which come out cheaper than fees. California has the country’s fourth best RPS.
California also has an “A” rating for having balanced net metering practices. Net metering lets you sell to your utility whatever solar electricity you do not use at the same rate that they charge you for use.
Locally, when it comes to incentivizing the use of solar water heaters as well as solar panels, Fresno families who qualify can join the Solar Energy System Rebate and Loan Program that will provide rebates of $2,000 or 10% of the system price, whichever may be lesser. The qualified residents must have installed the solar panels by Oct. 31, 2007. The zero-interest loan provides for $15,000 or 75% of system price, whichever is lesser, to qualified low-income and moderate-income families desiring to switch to solar in their homes. It is payable within 15 years.
Remember, incentives differ per sector and per utility; it would be best to seek out utility companies in your area that can assist you in identifying incentives, subsidies, or credits that apply.
Phone: (559) 682-0040