How it Works: Solar Photovoltaic (PV) panels absorb the sun’s energy and transform it into electricity for your home (see REV’s Solar Technology page for more information on how this technology works). Given proper siting and exposure to the sun, you can expect a 5-kWh PV system to generate 450 kwh in a month, enough to supply up to 100% of the
average, energy-efficient Vermont home’s electrical needs.1
What it Costs
The average 5-kWh system costs $30,000 with system design, equipment, and installation2. With financing, the Incentive Rebate, and the Federal Tax Credit, this system can be as low as $18,375. Here’s how:
- 16% off the total cost with the Vermont Small Scale Renewable Energy Incentive Program: This standout “Incentive Program” offers Vermont solar PV and hot water customers a cash rebate of 75 cents per watt of solar capacity (energy generated by the system) installed. Your installer will handle the paperwork, and simply deduct this amount from the overall price of the system. At the current 75 cents per Watt rebate, that is $3,750 off the total cost3.
- Another 30% off the total cost with the Federal Tax Credit for solar energy systems: The federal government offers a 30% Income Tax Credit for solar PV and hot water systems to eligible homeowners and businesses with taxable income. This is equal to $7,875, and is in addition to the Incentive Rebate.
- Then it’s free: After the system is paid off, your electricity will be 90-100% free!
Will it work at my house?
Homeowners and business owners can consult the Renewable Energy Atlas of Vermont, a dynamic and easy-to-use tool to help assess the potential for solar energy projects throughout the state. This tool will help you quickly gauge a rough estimate of how much sun resource is available at county, city, and individual address levels. You can also find other renewable energy projects and installations nearby, and view REV Member installers, manufacturers and other businesses.
What’s the Bottom Line?
$30,000 gross cost of installed system
-$3,750 Vermont Small Scale RE Incentive (@ 75 cents per Watt)
-$7,875 System owner may be eligible for a 2011 30% Federal ITC (individual tax credit, or investment tax credit for business).
= $18,375 Final system cost
The PV panels are connected to the electricity grid through your home’s utility meter. Electricity generated by your PV system is used by your home first, and any extra is fed back into the grid, literally spinning your electrical meter backwards. Electricity that you put back into the grid is counted as a credit (approximately 12-13 cents per kWh generated) against cloudy days when the PV system might not satisfy your home’s energy demands.
VT Statewide Solar Adder
This innovative provision in the recently passed H.56 Vermont Energy Act of 2011 creates a special statewide solar customer benefit. Recognizing the peak power savings of net metered solar, the new law creates a financial incentive to catalyze more net metered solar by requiring utilities to offer a 20 cent credit to solar net metering customers for the energy they produce. Modeled after Green Mountain Power’s SolarGMP program, utilities will be required to issue an additional credit on top of the base residential per kWh credit that solar customers already receive (to make a total of 20 cents per kWh).This means that for every kWh your system generates, you get credited 20 cents per kWh. Customers are awarded the per kWh customer credit for a 10 year period. Further details on this new incentive and how you can access it are due out later this summer.
How to Get Started: Connect With a Local Partner Installer
Take advantage of the Incentive Program by hiring a Vermont Wind and Solar Program Partner. Solar PV Partners have proven experience and installation track records, and can quickly assess your home’s electrical needs and potential for solar PV. Here’s how it will work:
- Search the REV listings of Partner Installers: Take a look at REV’s map for solar PV installers near you (coming soon!). Or, search the Partner Installer Directory for your zipcode or town name. You’ll get a list of the closest installers to choose from.
- The solar installer comes and assess your home and solar potential at no obligation: The Partner installer will come out to your home and assess your electrical needs, as well as your home’s solar potential (the amount of sunshine that hits your home, among other factors). The Partner installer will then provide a written proposal outlining the appropriate system for your needs and what the rebated cost will be, at no obligation to you.
- You accept the proposal and place a deposit
- The installer files a permit application on your behalf with the Vermont Public Service Board: New legislation stipulates expedited permitting for PV systems under 5kWh, so often this step won’t take any time at all.
- Installation is scheduled; work on a typical 5kWh system takes around 3-4 days.
- You’re going solar! You’re all plugged in and the meter is running backwards.
Want Solar Hot Water? Go to the Vermont Solar Hot Water Guide:
1 System performance varies depending on orientation of roof to true south, slope angle of roof, and any shading that your site may have. Typical performance for a 5kWh roof top system in Vermont is 450kWh per month on average.
2 Includes wiring and conduit less than 50’ with no battery Back-up. Installed price of system on your house may vary due to type and condition of your roof, length of wiring and conduit runs, and capacity of your electrical service panel (some load centers may need to be upgraded).
3 See the RERC’s Vermont Small Scale Renewable Energy Incentive Program FAQ page for more details.