Florida Solar Rebates, Incentives and Tax Credits

 

For me Florida conjures up images of oranges, beaches and lots of sunshine and hopefully in the future lots of solar panels. While your sitting out there catching some rays (wearing sun block of course) maybe you should think about putting the sun to work for you by installing a home solar power system. The Florida solar industry has been helped by some great initiatives by Govenor Charlie Crist who has signed two executive orders (EO 126 & 127) that or Florida to increase its use of renewable energies, including solar power.  In 2006, before Crist, the Florida legislature did pass the Florida Energy Act in 2006 which allocated funds for grants and rebates. Under this rebate program residents were offered an amazing $4/watt rebate, capped at $20,000 for homes that installed home solar power systems. However, becasue it was such a smokin’ deal the money has now run out for now. Don’t despare, there is still the 30% federal rebate and rising electricity rates that make solar a good long-term investment.

Net-Metering
Florida does have net-metering which for those who don’t know is the ability to receive credits for generating renewable energy (and putting it onto the grid for others to use) and then being able to use those credits at a later time maybe at night or on a rainy day when your home solar power system isn’t producing the energy you need. At the end of a 12-month billing period, the utility pays you for any remaining electricity at the utility’s wholesale rate. Renewable energy credits (RECs) belong to you, and you may sell RECs back to the utility. There is no stated limit for net-metering systems.

PACE Financing

PACE financing allows people to pay for clean energy and energy efficiency retrofits to their homes or businesses through a slightly higher property tax over the course of 20 years. The government provides the money upfront and you pay it back over time while at the same time saving money on electricity. In many cases, the financial savings exceed the increase in annual property taxes. Florida has authorized municipalities and counties to create special districts for financing a variety of projects including residential solar power systems. However, as of April 2010, no municipalities and counties have set up any PACE programs.  Time to call your local representative?

 

Rebates

As part of the 2006 Florida Energy Act, the Solar Energy Systems Incentives Program offers rebates for individuals or businesses to purchase solar photovoltaic, solar thermal, and solar thermal pool heating systems. Solar photovoltaic systems are eligible for a $4/watt rebate, capped at $20,000 for homes and $100,000 for businesses. Solar thermal systems are eligible for a $500 residential rebate or $15/BTU, capped at $5,000 for businesses.

Sorry, but as of November 2009 the state has run out of money and so the rebates have gone away. You can check here to see the latest updates on Florida rebates.

 

Utility Loan Programs

Orlando Utilities Commission

Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC), in cooperation with the Orlando Federal Credit Union (OFCU), provides its customers with low-interest loans for solar photovoltaic (PV) systems and solar water heating (SWH) systems. Customers may borrow up to $7,500 for a SWH system or up to $20,000 for a PV system, and loans are repaid over time as fixed payments on customers’ monthly utility bills. Interest rates for SWH systems vary from 0% to 4% over a term ranging from three years to seven years. Interest rates for PV systems vary from 2% to 5.5% over a term ranging from three years to 10 years. For more details, see OUC’s Solar Information Packet.

 

Gainesville Regional Utilities- Low-Interest Energy Efficiency Loan Program

Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU) offers a three percent annual interest loan for pre-approved items including the ENERGY STAR refrigerators, high efficiency central air conditioning systems, and solar electric photovoltaic systems. This loan is being offered to encourage the installation of energy efficient products and equipment that will reduce energy use and save customers money. The program allows residential electric customers who own their home to borrow money through 1st Credit Union of Gainesville to make energy efficient improvements.

The loan is fixed 3% annual interest rate for qualified applicants and subject to approval. In order to be eligible the customer must be a GRU electric customer. Improvements are only available for existing owner occupied residential dwellings including single-family residences, mobile homes, duplexes, triplexes, and quadruplexes.

Maximum Incentive:$10,000
Terms:Rate: 3%
Repayment:up to 5 years
Web Site:Click here 

 

City of Tallahassee Utilities – Solar and Efficiency Loans

The City of Tallahassee Utilities offers loans with an interest rate of 5% for 25 different energy-saving measures, including photovoltaic (PV) systems and solar water-heating systems; energy-efficient central air conditioning units, refrigerators and certain other appliances; ceiling insulation. Under this program, customers may borrow up to $20,000 for PV systems and $10,000 for solar water-heating systems (including pool heating). Various other maximums apply to eligible energy-efficiency measures. For detailed information on the loan process, see the loan handbook or call the utility’s energy services department at (850) 891-4968.

Amount:up to $20,000
Terms:Rate: 5%
Repayment:10 years for PV
Program Administrator:City of Tallahassee Utilities
Web Site:Click here 

 

Example

LocationMiami, FL
UtilityFlorida Power and Light
Av. Monthly Electricity Bill$130
% Reduction in Electricity Bill50
System Size4.5 kW
Monthly Electricity Usage1000 kWh
Average Electricity cost 12 cents/kWh
Cost / Watt (installed)$7.00
Cost Breakdown
Total Cost$31,360
Rebates
Florida State Rebate (was $4/Watt – currently no funding)$0
Federal Tax Incentive$9,409
 NET COST – 1st Year$21,951 (If the State Rebate was in place this would be more like $2,000)
Cash Flow
New Av. Monthly Electric Bill$50
Monthly loan payment (30 year home equity at 7%)$146
Tax savings (assuming married filing jointly, $140K income)$46*
New Monthly Payment$150 – Without any state rebate you won’t be cash flow positive.

* Tax savings will decrease as the principal is paid down. Please consult your tax preparer.