Options for Financing Solar Energy Systems
Just like your home, solar energy panels are an investment, and it’s important to think of them as such rather than a simple home improvement.
Solar arrays often produce a higher rate of return than the stock market.
There are many programs available to ease the financial cost of getting started. Once they are installed, you will begin seeing energy savings. Check out our Solar Calculator to see how much you could save on energy costs.
Tax credits are now even throughout the U.S., meaning that customers in Ohio and the rest of the Midwest can enjoy the same federal tax credits that customers in California do. The Energy Investment Tax Credit (ITC) gives customers a 30% tax credit discounting the entire purchase price of a solar array system. These credits apply both to roof installation and ground installation. Also, the tax credits can be claimed even if you financed the solar array rather than paid up front for it, but the solar panels must be fully installed in the year that you are claiming the credit.
The 30% tax credit has been extended through the end of 2019. After that, the credit will decrease to 26% in 2020, and 22% in 2021. The credit expires after 2021 for residential systems. However, it will be available at a rate of 10% for businesses thereafter.
Solar Is Best
Solar receives a higher tax credit than wind or geothermal energy.
Combine Tax Credits
Installing a solar array at the same time as a new roof allows you to claim both tax credits. This option is available for roof installation only, and is not applicable to ground mounted solar arrays.
The ITC does not decrease any tax credits your state offers, and vice versa. However, your income will be slightly higher when you file your federal taxes because you will have to include your state tax credit. The state tax credit and abatement programs are many and varied. Contact us today regarding options available to your specific state and city.
You do not have to be a homeowner to claim the tax credit. If you contribute to an eligible solar system for your condominium or cooperative housing corporation, you can claim the credit on the contribution amount. Renters are not eligible for the tax credit.
The solar arrays do not have to be installed on your primary residence for you to claim the tax credit. However, rental properties are not eligible for the residential tax credit.
Many states offer rebates, easements, and tax abatement programs that make solar power much more affordable. Many cities and counties also offer their own programs that can be combined with state and federal offers. Contact us today to speak to a solar consultant who can give you the most up-to-date information on rebates and other offers available to you.
Solar Renewable Energy Credits (or SRECs)
Once you have installed your solar array, you can actually begin making money with it by selling energy credits back to your utility company. These are called Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs). The Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) of many states require that they produce a certain percentage of electricity through solar energy. Utility companies that do not produce this energy on their own turn to consumers with solar arrays to meet these requirements.
One SREC is issued for every one MW (1,000 kWh) of electricity that your solar array produces. The value of each SREC varies from state to state according to supply and demand, as well as the state’s individual RPS compliance fees. Because each state has a different fee that they assess to utility companies that do not meet RPS compliance, the amount you can receive for your SREC will be the same or less than the fee amount. Contact us today to learn about your state’s fee and how much you can expect to earn for your SRECs.
Because of the variable SREC market, many solar system owners turn to brokers to manage the sales of their SRECs to the utilities. Sol Systems, the largest SREC aggregator in the country, is our preferred broker because of their best-in-class customer service and streamlined registration process that takes care of the registration and certification for you so that you can begin producing payment-earning SRECs quickly. Sol Systems offers guaranteed SREC rates, competitive pricing through either long-term or brokerage options, and quarterly payments for customers who choose that option.
Sol Systems offers the choice of three ways to earn with SRECs
You receive a guaranteed, fixed, quarterly payment for each SREC produced over a 3 or 5 year contract.
You receive a lump sum payment based on the size (in kW) of your system. This reduces the cost of installation and protects you against the risk of fluctuating markets and SREC prices.
You can benefit from the risk-reward of fluctuating market prices. Sol Systems will handle all trading for you and pay you out each quarter.
Many customers choose to finance their solar array through loans. There are three main types of loans offered, and all of them require a FICO score of at least 650, though borrowers for some typically have higher scores.
This option allows you to select a no-limit loan from the lender of your choice. Secured and unsecured options are available, and you can choose from 5, 7, 10, or 12 year repayment plans, with no penalty for paying the loan off early. The state of Ohio also offers a 3% interest rate reduction for 5- or 7-year loans. However, the entire process can be quite time-consuming, taking up to several months, and online approval is not available.
This option offers unsecured loans of up to $55,00 with 0% interest for 60 months and is designed for customers who want to pay off their systems quickly. GreenSky is a preferred loan originator trusted by thousands of contractors across America. You can also apply your federal tax credit (ITC) toward the loan and can expect an instant decision through their online approval process.
A division of Admirals Bank that exists solely to help homeowners purchase alternative energy improvements for their homes, this option offers a secured loan of up to $25,000 through their Solar StepDown loan, and a supplemental unsecured loan of up to $15,000 through their SolarPlus loan. The StepDown loan typically requires a FICO score of 650 and the SolarPlus loan typically requires a FICO score of at least 700. The funds from these loans will be disbursed before the installation begins and, should the customer add the SolarPlus supplemental loan, payments for that portion are not required to begin until 18 months after the first date of funding.
Call us today to speak to one of our solar experts about which financing option is best for your unique situation.
What is Electric Rate?
The electric rate is the amount you pay for your energy. The typical units are in dollars per kilowatt-hour, or $/kWh. So if you take your monthly electric bill and divide the amount of kWh you used in that month, you will get your rate. Most utilities in Ohio charge an electric rate of around $0.12/kWh. Most solar panel systems will be giving you electricity at a lower rate than you are currently paying, which means you will be saving from Day 1. Ask your YellowLite representative to show you your solar electric rate.