Federal, State, and Local Financial Solar Incentives
Interest in green technologies and concerns over rising energy prices are creating a new awareness in the USA today. Never before have there been as many solar incentives as there are now. The American Government and many States, local governments, and utilities offer financial incentives such as tax deductions, rebates, and/or net metering.
Federal Solar Incentives
Currently there are several federal financial solar incentives available in the U.S. that support the use of renewable energies and installations of photovoltaic and solar hot water systems. The U.S. Government mainly offers tax credits, grants, industry support, and energy production incentives.
Corporate tax credits like the Business Energy Investment Tax Credit (ITC), for example, runs until 2016 and supports investments in the commercial, industrial, and utility sector.
Another solar incentive is the Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit that runs until 2016 and supports residential use and installation of solar technologies with personal tax credits.
Furthermore, federal policies like the U.S. Federal Government-Green Power Purchasing Goal try to shape the understanding of renewable energies.
State Solar Incentives
Most of the States with a strong American solar market for grid-connected PV offer additional solar incentives, financing programs, feed-in-tariffs, tax incentives, and rebate programs. Regulations like the Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) for example require increased production of energy from renewable energy sources such as solar power.
One of the strongest States producing investments in solar energy is California. Several rebate programs are offered, like the California Solar Initiative that supports residential photovoltaic and solar hot water installations financially.
States with Renewable Portfolio Standards 2010. Source: Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency
Performance Based Solar Incentives
So called performance-based solar incentives like net metering and feed-in tariffs support solar-generated electricity that is produced on-site or fed into the grid. Most often they are offered by States or utilities.
The Gainesville Regional Utilities in Florida, for example, offer a Solar Feed-In Tariff for photovoltaic power that is applicable for residential as well as commercial PV systems.
There is one federal performance-based solar incentive, the Renewable Energy Production Incentive (REPI), that expires in 2016 and supports solar power production with 2,2 c/kWh.
Another important solar incentive, net metering, encourages residential and commercial investments in solar power systems. In November 2010, net metering was offered in 43 States.
For a more detailed description of financial solar incentives offered by the government, States, utilities, and other local groups, see the DSIRE summary table. It is a project of the Interstate Renewable Energy Council funded by the U.S. DOE and managed by the North Carolina Solar Center.