Party for Solar Incentives

By Matthew Hirsch
April 22, 2016

The industry association for solar companies is looking for a new CEO. Here at Pick My Solar, we’ve got a little advice for the next commander in chief. Throw more parties! Wouldn’t you throw a party if you were making money for yourself and all your friends?

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Look at what’s been happening lately in solar.

December 2015: Congress and President Obama preserve a tax credit so any household or small business that goes solar in the next three and a half years gets a 30 percent refund, straight from the government.

January: California extends a state program called net metering that lets homeowners and small businesses sell solar energy back to the electric company at the rate they pay when buying energy from the grid.

This month: New Hampshire extends its net metering program. Then Massachusetts does the same thing.

Most people can see that solar incentives are beneficial, but it can be hard to translate the value of these incentives into dollars and cents if you don’t know how much it costs to install solar or to purchase electricity.

Don’t worry. We got this.

‘Show Me the Money’

For the average solar installation, the value of the solar tax credit is about $6,700.

For the average homeowner in California who produces enough solar energy to cover all household energy needs, net metering is worth about $1,200 a year.

In New Hampshire, where the average home consumes more energy, net metering is worth about $1,300 a year.

In Massachusetts, where people consume more energy and pay a higher price, net metering is worth about $1,400 a year.

DIY Solar Research

Solar incentives can vary a lot as you move around the US from state to state, based on the amount of energy you use and how much you pay for it. We’ll show you how to find all the information needed to see what the incentives look like in your neighborhood. Or use our bid generator to see how much you can save by going solar, and let us customize the value of the incentives for your home.

Solar Installation Prices

Every year, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab publishes a report on solar installations in the US called Tracking The Sun. The latest report, released last summer, shows an average residential system size of 6.2 kilowatts (kW). It also shows an average residential system price of $4.30 per Watt (W) -- but the average Pick My Solar customer gets $3.60 per W.

Let’s do a little math, using Pick My Solar prices. (Note that 6.2 kW = 6,200 W.)

Average system size                Average price             Average total price

6,200 W                             ×          3.60                     =          $22,320

If you see that the average size and average price of a solar installation is different in your home state, replace the numbers to calculate a new average system price. Then, for the fun part, multiply by 30 percent (.30) to find out the value of your solar tax credit.

Electricity Prices

The US Department of Energy provides a huge amount of information about electricity prices on its website. To estimate the annual value of net metering credits in your state, you’ll need to know how much energy people usually consume and how much they pay for it. Start by downloading a table from the Dept. of Energy showing average monthly consumption for each US state. Remember to multiply by 12 to get average annual consumption.

Then visit the webpage where the Dept. of Energy shows average residential electricity prices, with new updates every month.

Multiply average annual consumption by the average electricity price to estimate the yearly value of net metering. Here’s an example using figures from California.

Monthly consumption Annual consumption Electricity price Value of net metering

562 kWh × 12 = 6,744 kWh × $0.1776 per kWh = $1,198

If math isn’t your thing, it’s cool. Use our bid generator. Copy our homework.

Then, let’s party! 

View our 2018 Solar Starter Guide 


Matthew Hirsch

Written By

Matthew Hirsch

Matt Hirsch has been writing about the solar industry since 2009. He joined the Pick My Solar content team in 2016. Learn more about Matt on his website:

More articles by Matthew Hirsch

What's Pick My Solar? We empower our customers to adopt clean energy through transparency and choice. Our free, no-obligation platform provides competing solutions from top providers.

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