We posted a top 5 reasons 'why solar now' back in 2016 but a lot has changed since then. Costs have come down, the market has matured, new technologies are available, and incentives have come and gone. For this 2020 edition, there are very different, increasingly urgent, and more compelling reasons than before. So, without further ado, here are the Top 5 Reasons Why Solar Now - 2020 Edition:
Reason #5: Federal tax credit phasing out. All solar energy systems (residential, commercial, and utility-scale) come with a federal tax credit to help reduce the upfront cost of solar. Holding steady at 30% since 2006, the federal tax credit started a 4-year phase out this year according to the schedule below. All residential installations completed in 2020 will be eligible for the 26% credit. Commercial installations may also qualify for a safe harbor that preserves the tax credit for subsequent years.
Reason #4: Rates are going up. The Georgia Public Service Commission recently presided over the 2019 Georgia Power Rate Case that comes up for debate every 3 years. Georgia Power asked to raise $2.2 billion over the next 3 years to pay for coal ash clean up, reimbursement for storm damage, to make improvements to the grid, among other things. They got much of what it asked for.
In order to raise these funds, Georgia Power must raise rates on customers. According to AJC article, Georgia Power electric bills to increase in January and keep rising, rates will go up between 10.5 - 12.5% over the next 3 years. More rate hikes are expected in future rate cases.
Solar works as a hedge against future rate hikes. Its fuel source (the sun) is free and because there are no moving parts, it's practically maintenance free. When utility rates go up, the costs to operate and maintain a solar energy system do not. Generating your own energy on your own property is a wise investment today because doing so will increase in value every time rates go up. According to the AJC article sited above, new rate hikes begin to take effect in January 2020.
Reason #3: Solar increases property values. We have written about this extensively in the past but the data keeps mounting: solar increases property values. We recently updated a blog post on this topic complete with links to the underlying studies and resources that bear this out:
Even if you are not sure how long you will stay in your home, according to these studies, you will recover your investment when you sell your home. Also note, the average premium that comes with solar, $15,000, is not discounted by the federal tax credit or the savings gained through a Solarize program. Thus, not only will you get your full investment back when you sell your home, you may come out ahead.
Reason #2: New "Monthly Netting" Policy. We reported on this new policy change last week but it certainly belongs in a list of reasons why to consider solar now instead of later. For the first time in Georgia history, Georgia Power customers that install solar panels on their home or business can now get retail credit for energy sent back to the utility. The program is capped for the first 5,000 customers or 32Mw of capacity, whichever comes first.
Instead of instantly netting excess power sent back to the grid at 3 cents per kWh, with "monthly netting", Georgia Power will now net consumption and excess energy sent back to the grid at the end of each month giving customers full retail credit for excess power helping reducing electricity bills another 30%. This is a form of net metering except if generation exceeds consumption at the end of the month then customers will get 3 cents per kWh for that excess energy.
Because this new program is capped for the first 5,000 customers or 32Mw in capacity, we strongly encourage Georgia Power customers to act now in order to take advantage of the program. For customers already having solar, we are waiting from Georgia Power for any rules, applications, and procedures required to take advantage of the program. Existing customers are presumed eligible so stay tuned. Once we learn more, we'll send out an update.
Reason #1: "It's the right thing to do." Yes, it may sound a little hokey but judging by the support of local community organizations and volunteers throughout our 10 Solarize programs thus far, it's a real thing! When Solarize Roswell was hatched last year, the city of Roswell passed a resolution in support of the program which states in part:
Whereas, the Mayor and the Council have determined that the City of Roswell is committed to be a sustainable and action oriented community being responsible to future generations...
Throughout the Roswell campaign and others, a constant theme among the coalition partners is "because it's the right thing to do." No one really went beyond that. There was no need because by going solar there's nothing to lose and a lot to gain. Saving money, increasing property value, and becoming more energy independent while generating your own clean, renewable, emission-free energy on your own property? Yes, going solar is the right thing to do. It's this underlying confident and quiet resolve of purpose that is a common thread among all of our Solarize program coalition members and participants.
Solar Crowdsource did a survey among the 500+ Solarize participants that have installed solar on their home or business in the past 3 years. We listed 13 reasons and asked people to pick their top 3. The top 7 most popular reasons are below and see all survey responses here.
And as for whether going solar is the right thing to do for you, also consider these video and written testimonials from Solarize programs around the state.
Bonus Reason: Save up to 20% through Solarize: Sign up with Solar Crowdsource to get program updates on the new "monthly netting" program and a chance to save up to 20% on the cost on solar by participating in one of our Solarize group-purchase, discount-pricing programs coming up soon in 2020! There's no obligation by signing up and we do not sell or share your information with unauthorized third parties.
About the author: Don Moreland founded Solar Crowdsource in 2016 to help make distributed solar more affordable and accessible for homes and businesses. To date, Solar Crowdsource has facilitated 10 Solarize programs originating over 500 installations, 3.5MW of new solar capacity, and 1.5MWh of new battery storage. Solar Crowdsource's award winning Solarize programs were recently named a Solar Maker by Southern Environmental Law Center. Don served as Chair of the Georgia Solar Energy Association (GA Solar) in 2017 and 2018 and currently serves as the organization's Policy Committee Chair. Donate to GA Solar to support the Georgia solar industry. Email Don: firstname.lastname@example.org.