Category: Solar Panel News

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Solar laws are changing in Florida. Get grandfathered in before it’s too late!

What does HB-741 mean?

  • The law was essentially written by the utility companies, who think solar is great for them, but don’t want their customers to have solar.
  • The law goes into effect Jan 1, 2024
  • Until then, new customers will be grandfathered in for twenty years.
  • Utility companies will be able to pay a fraction of what they charge to customers who sell power back during the daytime. The initial reduction is 25%, followed by further reductions until net-metering goes away completely.
  • The longer you wait, the more money you lose
  • The federal tax credit is decreasing to 22%
  • Supply chain issues are causing prices to increase
  • Inflation is at an all-time high, causing further price increases.
  • Interest rates are going up due to inflation.
  • Increased demand to lock in net-metering means prices will continue to go up as we approach the deadline
  • Utility companies continue to raise electricity rates

Contact us now to make an appointment

The Battle for Solar

Pete Wilking of A1A Solar has been visiting Tallahassee to fight for solar.

How Does the Solar Tax Credit Work?

solar panel, a supermarket trolley with money, and a mock-up of a house, concept of the federal solar panel rebate

Many areas of the world are experiencing warmer temperatures and more sunshine, which has fueled the increasing demand for solar panels. People are reaping the benefits of solar power by seeing reduced utility bills and receiving a tax credit, but how does the solar tax credit work exactly?

Federal solar tax credit

In general, a tax credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction in the amount of income tax a person owes. The solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) was enacted in 2006, and since its inception, the solar industry has grown by over 10,000 percent, investing billions of dollars into the U.S. economy and creating hundreds of thousands of jobs. The federal residential solar energy credit can be claimed on a person’s federal income taxes for a percentage of the cost of the solar photovoltaic (PV) system. The solar system needs to be placed in service during the tax year and must generate electricity for a home in the United States. As of now, there isn’t a maximum amount that can be claimed.

Federal solar panel rebate

Part of the government solar panels program is a rebate, which provides different percentages back on income tax depending on the year the solar system was installed. The following tax credits are provided:

  • 26% tax credit for residential/commercial systems installed in 2020-2022
  • 22% tax credit for residential/commercial systems installed in 2023
  • 10% for commercial systems installed in 2023 and after

There was a federal solar tax credit extension, which provides a 26% tax credit for systems installed in 2020-2022. The credit was originally supposed to expire in 2021 and reduce to 22%.

If you’re contemplating getting a solar system installed and want to reap the benefits of a solar panel rebate, make your plans now as the solar panel federal tax credit expiration is set for 2024 unless Congress decides to renew it.

Are there other incentives?

If a rebate isn’t enticing enough, certain states offer other incentives. Oregon provides cash incentives if your system is grid-tied (most systems are), Texas has a solar rights law which prevents HOAs from banning solar systems on homes, and Illinois has a property tax break, known as the Special Assessment for Solar Energy Systems, that taxes your property as if the panels weren’t even installed so you don’t have to worry about your property tax bills increasing. The state of Florida solar incentives are similar but have some differences.

While solar energy systems are exempt from Florida’s sales and use tax, the state provides a 100% property tax exemption for residential renewable energy property, and 80% property tax abatement for commercial renewable energy property. Local incentives are also provided depending on the county in which the house or building is located.

Solar financing through lending programs is also available for homeowners and commercial businesses through Florida PACE (Property Assessment and Clean Energy). Through PACE, homeowners can finance energy-efficient upgrades at fixed interest rates with no upfront costs since it’s attached to their property taxes.

A study from Berkeley Lab found that a solar energy system can increase a home’s value by 3.5 percent. The value increase depends on the watts produced by the system, so the more watts made by a solar system, the more a home’s value will be increased.

How to file for the solar panel tax credit

When getting ready to file for the solar panel tax credit, it’s important to check that you’re eligible for the rebate. Here are three ways to check your eligibility:

  • Do you own the solar system?
  • Do you have a federal tax liability to use the ITC against?
  • Is this system for your home in the U.S.? “Home” includes houses, houseboats, RV’s, cooperative apartments, or condos and does not have to be your main residence if you own the home and lived in it for a portion of the year.

Make sure you have your receipts from the solar installation available to submit or provide if anything is questioned. If you meet these criteria, you’ll need to find the appropriate solar tax credit form from the IRS, which is IRS Form 5695, also known as the Residential Energy Credits Form, as part of your tax return. This form is needed to calculate the number of tax credits you can gain from your qualified home energy improvements such as:

  • Geothermal heat pumps
  • Solar panels
  • Solar batteries
  • Solar thermal pool heating
  • Fuel cells
  • Small wind turbines

Once that is calculated, enter the result on your 1040 form. As always, it’s important to consult a certified tax professional with questions and for tax-related advice.

What is the Difference Between Renewable and Nonrenewable Resources?

solar panels with wind turbines against blue sky

Humans use both renewable and nonrenewable resources daily. But what constitutes a resource as renewable or nonrenewable? As the world continues to use more sustainable energy sources, people are finding alternative ways to fuel the world, looking to the sky, the sea, and deep within the earth. While many may be familiar with solar energy and its ability to power houses, charge cell phones and heat water, among other things, there are a variety of other resources that can yield the same results as solar, but some are renewable while others are nonrenewable. Have you ever found yourself asking the following:

  • Is natural gas renewable or nonrenewable?
  • Why is water a renewable resource?
  • Are any resources inexhaustible?
  • What is the difference between renewable and nonrenewable resources?

Keep reading to find the answers to these questions and more!

What does renewable mean?

Renewable means that it can be replenished naturally over short periods of time. There are five major renewable energy sources: solar, wind, water, biomass and geothermal. These resources are limited in their availability at any time because they come from the earth. While the sun rises each day, when it is cloudy its ability to generate power becomes limited.

What is the difference between renewable and nonrenewable resources?

While renewable resources are replenished relatively quickly, nonrenewable resources take much longer to be restored. Coal, nuclear, oil and natural gas are nonrenewable energy resources that are available in limited supplies.

You might be familiar with the term fossil fuels. Oil, natural gas and coal are fossil fuels that were formed in the earth over millions of years from dead plants and animals. Pressure and heat transformed the remains of the plants and animals into oil, which is found under many layers of rock and sediment.

Power plants that use nonrenewable resources can produce more power on demand. So, on a hot day when many people are running their air conditioners, power plant operators can increase the energy production, which isn’t possible with renewable resources.

Which resources are renewable and nonrenewable?

Is geothermal renewable or nonrenewable?

In Greek, geo means earth and therme means heat, so geothermal is heat within the earth. Heat is continuously produced deep inside the earth’s core from the decay of radioactive particles, which is a process that happens in all rocks, making it renewable. This resource is used to heat buildings, generate electricity and heat water for bathing.

Is wind renewable or nonrenewable?

Wind is a renewable resource. Wind turbines are used to convert wind into energy without releasing emissions that pollute the air or water. These turbines also reduce the electricity generation from fossil fuels, resulting in less carbon dioxide emission and lower air pollution according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Using wind has fewer environmental effects than other energy sources when producing energy.

Is biomass a renewable resource or nonrenewable?

An organic material derived from plants and animals, biomass is a renewable resource. Storing chemical energy from the sun, biomass is produced by plants through photosynthesis. A versatile resource, biomass can be burned directly for heat or turned into renewable liquids or gaseous fuels. Until the mid-1800s, biomass was the largest source of total annual U.S. energy consumption, and in 2020 provided 5% of total primary energy use in the United States. To this day, biomass serves as an important fuel for many developing countries for their cooking and heating needs.

Is natural gas renewable or nonrenewable?

Natural gas is formed from the remains of sea plants and animals that died 300-400 million years ago, making it a nonrenewable resource. Once natural gas is extracted, it’s sent to a processing plant so it can be cleaned and separated into methane, propane and butane. Methane comprises 90% of natural gas.

Why is water a renewable resource?

Water can be found both underground and on the surface of the earth in rivers, oceans, lakes and streams. Some of these bodies of water are replenished through snowmelt and when it rains. Here are seven other ways water is renewable:

  • Water has a rain cycle. Water evaporates, condenses into droplets and then falls back onto the earth into the various bodies of water to replenish them. If theres sufficient rainfall, water remains a renewable resource.
  • Water can be conserved to help replenish water reservoirs when droughts happen. Some ways to conserve water include creating a rain garden, installing a greywater system, having a water-efficient dishwasher, and more.
  • Water evaporates into a liquid vapor that later condenses, turning into precipitation. According to GreenCoast, “90% of water in rivers, lakes and oceans go through such transformation, and so water can later be replenished when the vapors condense.”
  • Water condenses as part of the water cycle forming clouds first and then rain, which then falls to the earth and replenishes water sources.
  • Water can be recycled and used in agricultural fields and gardens, or treated and used for drinking, cooking and other residential and business complex centers.
  • Water is sustainable because it can be reused, thus reducing the dependence on other natural bodies of water.
  • Rainwater can be harvested and diverted back to the earth to recharge the groundwater by connecting outlet pipes from rooftops with gutters.

Is solar energy renewable or nonrenewable or inexhaustible?

Solar energy is renewable and inexhaustible. The sun is one of the most important sources of energy for life forms on earth. The energy from the sun is harnessed using a variety of technologies and converted and used in lieu of fossil fuels because it is sustainable and inexhaustible, meaning it won’t run out unlike fossil fuels that are finite. There are numerous benefits to using solar power as it reduces air and water pollution, reduces the need for nonrenewable resources and more.

Get off the Grid

Solar plus storage is smart

Don’t let utility electric have the advantage.

Under Florida law, privately owned utilities are required to “net-meter.” This means that they pay solar customers for excess electricity essentially the same rate that they charge them. JEA, Jacksonville’s largest utility provider, is not privately owned, and they changed their net-metering policy effective April 1, 2018. Honest solar salespeople understand the impacts of this policy shift and explains this information to new customers. Out of town companies frequently either do not know or care, and this leads to both misconceptions and disastrous results.

 

What does it mean?

Harness the power of the sun.

With most systems during peak sunlight hours, between 10:00 AM and 3:00 PM solar will power the house and still be generating considerable excess electricity. This electricity has no where to go but either back to the grid, or to a battery storage unit.

If the electricity goes back to the grid, the meter will spin backwards, and JEA will credit the homeowner at 3.25 cents per kWh. They charge a weighted rate of 12 cents per kWh, though. That means they’re paying wholesale, and charging retail.

A1A Solar strongly recommends adding storage

Home with Tesla Powerwall

For this reason, A1A Solar strongly recommends adding storage to new installs within JEA service area. By adding storage to the solar system, homeowners capture the excess energy during peak sun hours, and draw from the battery during the evening. This preserves the economic benefits of solar for the homeowner, and it’s good for the environment since the more energy that is self-consumed the less coal gets burned.

Solar but no battery?

Renewable energy industry detail with photovoltaic panel

Alternatively, if you elect not to install a battery system but still want solar, we can design a smaller PV system which minimizes the amount of electricity sold back to JEA. For most customers without batteries, self-consumption accounts for roughly 2/3 of solar production. For this reason, we would recommend a PV system that did not exceed  66% of your current usage. In this scenario, you would want to maximize your solar harvest by running your a/c during the day, doing laundry during daylight hours so that you would be using the electricity you are generating rather than selling it back to JEA at a reduced rate.

Many companies do not bother to tell potential customers about the impacts of JEA policy upon new solar installations, and offer blatantly misleading proposals which show a much greater offset than the customer will actually see.

A1A Solar strives to over-deliver and under-promise, and as part of this philosophy, we use sophisticated software which provides a detailed production and financial analysis for our customers.

While solar industry jobs decrease around the country, they’re increasing in Florida

Floridians love a hot summer day. “Sunny and 75” is a motto we know and love. When the weather reaches 50 degrees, we’re reaching for our winter coats. So, solar power seems like a no-brainer to meet the energy needs of any Floridian. In the last year, there has been a significant increase in solar industry jobs in Florida due to a high demand for solar energy systems. Across the rest of the nation, however, solar industry jobs last year decreased. The U.S. as a whole shows a 3.2 percent decrease in solar industry jobs, whereas the number of jobs in Florida have increased by 21 percent. The Solar Foundation believes that the decline in jobs in the U.S. came from a pause in work due to a petition about new tariffs on solar panels and cells. However, in spite of that petition, Florida is seeing more high-profile solar projects.

Florida is now in second place for states with the highest number of solar industry jobs, with 10,358 people employed in the solar energy industry. California is first, with 76,838 people working in solar-related jobs.

Statisticians predict solar industry jobs will continue to increase in Florida over the next few years. JEA has planned for five new solar facilities by 2022, and it plans to increase its solar capacity from 39 megawatts to 289 megawatts by that time. JinkoSolar will employ 200 people at its new plant at Cecil Commerce Center. Another solar employer is Florida Power and Light Co., which has 18 plants in Florida.

Despite current trends across the U.S., The Solar Foundation shared a report that predicted jobs in the industry will increase in 2019 by 7 percent. And by 2026, employment in the solar energy industry will increase by 63.4 percent.

Solar tax credit: Why 2019 is the year to think wise and solarize

Panel of the solar batteries in the garden.

Why 2019 is the year to think wise and solarize to save big on your taxes.

In 2005, Congress passed the Energy Policy Act, a law that, among other things, allows a federal tax credit for up to 30 percent of the cost of a new solar energy system for a commercial or residential property, including installation fees. Originally set to expire in 2007, the credit now extends until 2021 for residential solar energy systems, with benefits for commercial solar energy systems continuing beyond 2022. However, there’s a catch. Starting in 2020, the amount you can save on a newly installed solar energy system will decrease. This year is the last year you can get the full 30 percent federal tax credit. The percentage decreases year over year until 2022, when those with new residential solar energy systems get no federal tax credits at all. New commercial solar energy systems will get 10 percent. Federal tax credit value per year for solar energy systems:
  • 2019: 30 percent for new residential or commercial
  • 2020: 26 percent for new residential or commercial
  • 2021: 22 percent for new residential or commercial
  • 2022 and on: 0 percent for new residential, 10 percent for new commercial
If you’re thinking about getting a solar energy system for your home or commercial property, 2019 is the year to do it.

Solar energy batteries are getting less expensive

Now is the time to purchase a backup battery for your solar energy system

A solar energy battery is a wise investment for anyone with a solar energy system, as it allows your system to keep operating when the sun isn’t providing enough energy on its own. In the beginning of 2010, solar energy batteries were rare to see with solar energy systems. Now, most solar system owners have a backup battery. What changed? Originally, few people purchased solar energy batteries because they were expensive. Then, around the mid-2010s, solar battery prices began dropping dramatically. While there isn’t any solid data yet, many believe the price decrease was due to a huge spike in demand for solar energy systems. As more people purchased systems for their homes and businesses, they realized they needed a backup battery to keep their systems running without interruptions. Why did the demand for both solar energy systems and batteries increase? Home and property owners wanted to save money on their utility bills and through tax breaks. There was also a trend toward being more environmentally friendly. What better way to reduce your carbon footprint than by having an energy system that draws power straight from the sun, instead of relying on coal-powered energy plants? Thanks to the popularity of solar energy systems, it’s more affordable than ever to have a solar energy battery. It’s the best time to get one.

Solar as an investment

Why investing in solar panels can get you free electricity and more

rooftop solar panels

What’s one of the biggest reasons people make the switch to solar-powered energy? To save money, of course! Having a residential or commercial solar energy system allows you to avoid nearly every added cost and fee that utility companies require.

On average, FPL customers pay $211 every month to power their homes and businesses. Electric bills include hidden or added fees like storm charges, franchise charges, utility taxes, and discretionary sales taxes. These fees pile up month by month and can be frustrating for families or businesses on a budget.

Choosing to go solar is a smart investment that will save you both money and energy. Once you install a system, you’ll immediately see a decrease in your electric bill. According to SolarReviews, solar power users see an average of a $24 decrease in their monthly electric bills after installing solar panels.

While you’ll consume most of the energy that the panels produce, your system absorbs any unused energy and sends it back to the grid. You’ll receive credit for every excess kilowatt hour on your FPL bill through its buyback program, saving you even more money!

The system eventually pays for itself over time, and then you’re producing your own power at little to no cost for the entire lifetime of the system.

If you’re still not sure if solar is right for you, here are more reasons going solar is an investment to consider for your home and business.

Rooftop solar panels increase northeast Florida home values

Study shows a solar energy system will increase your home’s resale value by 3.5 percent

There is no doubt that solar energy systems offer a multitude of benefits. Beyond being good for the environment and providing savings on utility bills, solar panels also increase a home’s value. In the past, there hasn’t been sufficient research to enable appraisers and real estate professionals to confidently value homes with solar panels. However, in recent years, new studies have offered data that proves homebuyers are willing to pay more for a home with a solar energy system across a variety of states, markets, and home types.

According to a study from Berkeley Lab that spanned eight states, including Florida, a solar energy system can increase the value of your home by a 3.5 percent increase. The study suggests that the increased value for your home depends on the watts the system produces. The more watts your solar energy system makes, the more it will increase your home’s value. Therefore, a larger investment in a solar system will pay out more when it comes time to sell your home.

In the study, homeowners owned rather than leased their rooftop solar systems. The homes were less than $900,000, and researchers used methods to account for neighborhoods, models, and market characteristics.

Berkeley Lab’s research shows that a solar energy system would be a wise investment for your home – for monthly energy cost savings as well as for the increase in the value of your home.