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As one of a handful of states to have installed more than one gigawatt of solar capacity, New Jersey is one of the country’s solar powerhouses. In fact, the Garden State has installed enough solar energy to power over a quarter of a million homes.
NJ Solar Programs
The state’s solar success has been based on two core programs, one that compensates you for the electricity you produce, and one that rewards you for that electricity’s clean characteristics: .
New Jersey Net Metering
This policy allows you to sell excess electricity back to the grid at the retail rate. This is great because the retail rate of NJ net metering is significantly higher than the wholesale rate that large power plants receive for the electricity they sell to the utility. Additionally, the ability to both buy and sell electricity from the grid allows you to balance your consumption and production, instead of letting any excess electricity you produce go to waste. .
Check out the top utility net metering programs in New Jersey:
Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L)
SREC NJ: Solar Renewable Energy Certificates
When you install your solar energy system, it produces more than just electricity – for every megawatt-hour (MWh) of solar power, your panels also generate one SREC. These SRECs can then be sold on a market to utilities to help them meet the New Jersey Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). While the prices for these certificates vary with supply and demand, in March 2016 homeowners could sell each one they produced for $280. That means if you install a 5-kilowatt (kW) system that generates 5 MWh per year, you could make as much as $1,400 each year by selling your SRECs. .
New Jersey Solar Panel Tax Credits
On top of these revenue streams, New Jersey has also granted residential solar a couple tax breaks to help keep the costs down. .
Solar Sales Tax Exemption
When you purchase your home solar system, you will be 100 percent exempt from any sales tax, due to the PV energy sales tax exemption. That means you’ll spend 7 percent less on your solar equipment. .
Property Tax Exemption
Similarly, thanks to the property tax exemption for renewable energy systems, New Jersey resident that invest in a solar energy system will not have to pay any additional property taxes on the value that their solar panels are adding to their homes. .
Federal Solar Tax Credit (ITC)
In addition to the incentives and programs mentioned above, the federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) reduces the cost of your solar energy system by 30 percent; next time you file your federal income taxes, you’ll save a bundle of money. Keep in mind that the ITC applies only to those who buy their system outright (either with a cash purchase or solar loan), and that you must have enough income for the tax credit to be relevant. .
Pennsylvania has two main programs to support the development of residential solar systems: net metering and solar renewable energy certificates.
Pennsylvania Net Metering
This is one of the most important policies for solar in Pennsylvania, as in many other states, because it governs how your residential system interacts with the grid. Net metering allows you to sell excess solar electricity back to the utility at the same price at which you would buy it. The ability to send electricity back to the grid is key, as it allows homeowners to “bank” their solar energy when production is up and use it when they need it later on. PECO Energy offers the top utility net metering program in Pennsylvania.
Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs)
This program enables Pennsylvanians to sell the SRECs that their panels generate. As of early 2016, the going rate for these credits in PA was about $15 per megawatt hour (MWh). At this rate, a 5-kilowatt (kW) system that generates 5 MWh per year could make an extra $75 per year from selling credits in the SREC market. Utilities will purchase SRECs to meet Pennsylvania’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) goal of sourcing 18 percent of its electricity needs from renewable resources by 2020.
On top of the federal government’s flagship solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), which effectively reduces the cost of your solar energy system by 30 percent, MD has a couple of great solar policies that decrease the up-front cost of solar and increase the amount of money your system will generate:
Residential Clean Energy Grant Program
This MD solar rebate program is beautiful in its simplicity: If you install a solar energy system, Maryland will pay you $1,000. As easy as that. Just make sure your system is smaller than 20 kilowatts (kW), is located at your primary residence, and that your installer has the standard NABCEP certification.
Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SREC)
Maryland has set a renewable portfolio standard goal to produce 20 percent of its electricity from renewable resources by 2022, and you can get paid to help. Under this program, you are granted one Maryland SREC for each megawatt-hour (MWh) of clean electricity your panels produce, which you can then sell in the SREC market. In 2017 each SREC sold for anywhere from $6 to $20, meaning that a 5kW system that produces 7 MWh per year could earn you as much as $140 annually.
Maryland Net Metering
Thanks to net metering policies in Maryland, you will receive full credit on your utility electric bills for the extra electricity that your solar panels generate. During the times that you make more power than you use, you can “bank” it with your utility and draw from it later when you need more than your panels are generating. Pepco (Potomac Electric Power Company) offers the top utility net metering program in Maryland.
Maryland Solar Power Tax Benefits
As if the grant and credits above were not enough, Maryland also gives you a few tax breaks so you do not have to worry about your tax bills going up as a result of going solar. Thanks to the Property Tax Exemption for Solar and Wind Energy Systems, you will not have to pay any extra taxes on the increased value of your home when you go solar in Maryland. The Sales and Use Tax Exemption for Renewable Energy Equipment makes your purchase of your new solar energy system tax-free.
Federal Solar Tax Credit (ITC)
The federal government also offers its landmark Investment Tax Credit (ITC), which was recently extended. In addition to the Maryland-specific solar programs, you can cut the cost of your solar energy system by 30 percent through this credit on your income taxes. The ITC applies only to those who buy their system outright with cash or with a solar loan and you must have enough income for the tax credit to be relevant.
Delaware has several programs and rebates that make it easier for homeowners to save money on their electricity bills with solar:
Delaware Net Metering
Your solar panels will often produce more electricity than you need, but thanks to Delaware’s net metering policy, you will be able to sell this back to the grid in exchange for credits on your utility bill. The beauty of this program is that you are effectively selling electricity to the utility at the retail rate, instead of the lower wholesale rate that the coal plant down in Dagsboro gets. Why? Because the State of Delaware wants to make sure you enjoy the benefits of producing nice, clean solar energy.
Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs)
This program enables Delaware residents to sell the SRECs that their panels generate. As of early 2016, the going rate for these credits in DE was $25 per megawatt hour (MWh). At this rate, a 5 kilowatt (kW) system that generates 5 MWh per year could make an extra $2,500 over its life from selling credits in the SREC market. Utilities will purchase SRECs to meet Delaware’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) goal of sourcing 3.5 percent of its electricity needs from solar sources by 2025, and 25 percent from renewables more broadly.
Delaware Utility Solar Rebates and Federal Solar Tax Credit
Utility Solar Rebate Programs
While Delaware doesn’t offer a tax credit or rebate for going solar, many of the electric utilities in the state offer rebates to their customers, including:
Delmarva Power and Light
Customers of Delmarva Power in Delaware are eligible for a cash rebate from the utility to reduce the cost of their solar installation. The utility will pay $0.55 per watt of solar generating capacity up to 5kW, and $0.20/W beyond 5kW. Rebate values will be reduced as more homeowners install solar, so confirm the current value of the incentive with your utility.
Delaware Electric Cooperative
Ratepayers receive $0.85/W of solar power installed (up to 5kW), and $0.25/W for any additional solar capacity.
Delaware Municipal Electrical Corporation (DEMEC)
The Municipal Green Energy Program pays customers of qualifying Delaware municipal utilities a cash rebate for a portion of their solar installation costs. The value of the rebate depends on where you live, so review the program websites for specifics.
Federal Solar Tax Credit
The federal government’s Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is worth 30 percent of your system’s cost, and will be deducted directly from your Federal income tax. Keep in mind, however, that the ITC applies only to those who buy their PV system outright with a cash purchase or solar loan, and that you must have enough income for the tax credit to be relevant.