Solar for energy production has grown significantly in South Burlington in the last 10 years for both residential and commercial use. Our new City Center uses solar power as does the local landfill.
Solar panels can save you money and help the environment. It is conservatively estimated that annual financial returns range from 10-30% savings. Most people can pay off their solar purchase within 8 years. Energy Sage provides information that suggests the saving are higher.
The Inflation Reduction Act, passed in August, 2022, increases the tax credit for residential solar systems to 30%, and extends the program through December 31, 2034, creating a decade of predictable tax savings. (The bill renames the Investment Tax Credit to “Residential Clean Energy Credit”.) Costs incurred from the beginning of 2022 to the end of 2032 qualify for a 30% tax credit. The credit falls to 26% in 2033 and 22% in 2034.
In addition, the 30% tax credit now extends to leased or purchased battery storage systems, even if those systems are added after the solar panels have been installed on the roof. This solar battery storage tax credit can significantly reduce the cost of adding storage for energy security and backup power. The tax break for batteries applies to expenditures made starting in 2023.
Here are some helpful resources:
Community solar – "Community solar" is a broad term for a solar array or installation that involves group net-metering, in which a group of customers, or a single customer with multiple electric meters, located within the same electric utility service territory, choose to combine meters in order to offset their utility billing against the output of the solar array.
This is an attractive and practical way to go solar for those who can't install solar panels on their own site -- for example, renters, or a homeowner whose house roof has too many dormers, or the owner of a very shaded property.
There are a growing number of off-site solar options now to choose from, with various factors to consider as you evaluate them -- such as price of the solar panels, the details of the group agreement, and how insurance/maintenance/taxes are handled.
Another, less familiar but important consideration is what the community solar project does with the "Renewable Energy Certificates" (RECs) produced by the project -- whether it sells them or keeps them. RECs are central to sales of renewable electricity, because the environmental attributes (the "renewable-ness") of solar electricity are tracked through RECS. Whether you can truly say you've gone solar depends on who owns the RECs produced by your solar panels.
Finding an installer – talk to your friends and neighbors about their experiences. Ask them who installed it, if the cost estimate was accurate, if the project was completed on time, if the contractor was responsive. You can expect a local installer to do a free site visit to evaluate your location, including:
- identifying shade through an annual cycle
- for a rooftop installation, reviewing the roof for condition, size, orientation, tilt, vents, and access
- assessing the main electrical service panel
- suggesting an appropriate location for a battery If you plan on getting solar storage
Before the site visit, plan to review your current annual electric usage and your expected future needs, such as an electric vehicle, heat pump, or heat pump water heater.
The installation quote will include:
- the brand of equipment (panels, inverters, batteries)
- the system size, in number of panels and kW capacity
- estimated annual electricity production
- warranty information
- a $/watt figure and estimated solar payback period
A good installer will be able to explain applicable tax credits and refer you to financing options.
Get quotes from two or three installers and don't be afraid to ask follow-up questions so that you can compare them accurately.