2019 Solar Tax Credits Explained for Park City Homeowners

Over the past couple of years, there have been changes to the tax incentives that homeowners can utilize when making the switch to solar. Using the tax credits that are currently in place will reduce the cost of switching to solar by thousands of dollars.

Let’s take a look at what the tax incentives for solar are in 2019 for Park City homeowners and how much longer they will last.

Federal Solar Tax Credit

The federal tax credit for 2019 is 30% on the total cost of a solar array.

Back in December of 2015, Congress voted to extend the federal solar tax credit until 2021. The extension was structured to diminish the federal tax credit to 22% in 2021 and 0% in 2022 except for commercial projects that would maintain a 10% federal tax credit.

The federal tax credit in 2019 allows you to take 30% of the cost of your solar array off of your taxes.

That means that a $35,000 solar array ends up costing $24,500.

Everyone is eligible for the solar tax credit as long as you own the solar energy system. Even if you don’t have enough tax liability to claim the entire credit in one year, you can claim the tax credit in future years until 2021.

2019 is the last year that the 30% federal tax credit is going to exist. We recommend that homeowners utilize the full tax credit to get the best value and savings from a solar array.

Utah State Solar Tax Credit

The state tax credit for 2019 is 10% up to $800.

As of February 6th, 2017, House Bill 23 (HB23) has passed committee and is waiting to be voted on by the Utah Congress. The purpose of House Bill 23 is to phase out the 10% Utah state tax credit (up to $2000) by 2021. Lawmakers are claiming that the Utah solar tax credit is costing the state $60 million per year.

Solar advocacy groups like Utah Solar Energy Association(USEA) have given up the fight against HB23 in favor of compromise. Ryan Evans, The President of USEA, stated, “We would have preferred to see the tax credits live on...Realizing the political pressures and budgetary pressures this year, however, we aren’t contesting this.”

Rather than fighting against HB23, the focus shifted towards a small piece of the bill. HB23 in its original writing had proposed a gradual decline of the state solar tax credit until it was eliminated by 2021. The bill also put a cap on the funds available each year, starting from $4 million and declining to $0.

A compromise was reached that would eliminate the cap on funds available. As it stands, HB23 will be heard by Congress 3 times before it is voted on. HB23 will reduce the state tax credit by $400 each year until 2021 when the state tax credit will be fully eliminated.

In 2019 the state solar tax in Utah will be 10% of the total price of a solar array up to $800. This tax credit is going to be reduced to $400 in 2020 and $0 in 2021.

Conclusion

By utilizing the current tax incentives in place this year, homeowners in Park City can dramatically reduce the price of switching to solar and improve long term savings.

2019 is the last year that the 30% federal tax credit on a solar array will exist. The federal tax credit will reduce yearly until it is eliminated in 2021. The state tax credit has also been reduced to $800 for 2019 and will be eliminated by 2021 as well.

Switching to solar in 2019 will help Park City homeowners get the most out of tax incentives that will be eliminated in the next few years.

3 Reasons Solar Panel Efficiency & Degradation Are Vital in Park City

With technology advancing at incredible rates, it seems like every year there is a new solar panel efficiency record set. Solar panel efficiency is one of the most important aspects of a solar panel because it will impact how effective a panel is at converting sunlight into electricity.

Let’s take a look at three reasons why homeowners in Park City need to pay attention to solar panel efficiency and how it changes over time.

Lower System Size Requirements

One of the biggest benefits of having highly efficient panels installed on a home is that they allow more energy to be offset with a smaller system footprint.

Fewer more efficient panels can produce the same amount of energy as more less efficient panels.

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In Park City, many homes have fairly high energy use and require big systems to fully offset their energy use. Many homes though also have limited roof space due to intricate roof lines.

With higher efficiency panels, it is possible to offset more of a homes energy if roof space is limited.

System Effectiveness Over Time

The stated efficiency of solar panels is very important because it allows a system to convert more light into electricity, but the degradation of a panel is just as important.

Over time, solar panels degrade and become less effective at converting sunlight into electricity. You can think of them kind of like a battery that slowly losses the ability to hold a charge; except most good solar panels are expected to last at least 25 years.

With solar panels, the stated efficiency will decline every year. Different solar panels degrade at different rates.

The faster a panel degrades will effect the overall effectiveness and ability of a solar array to offset a homes energy use.

Having a panel that is highly effective and degrades slowly over time allows a solar array to output more power for longer. Meaning your power bill will still be offset in 15 to 25 years.

Degradation is often overlooked by homeowners who are shopping for the best price. Choosing a panels that is cheap with lower efficiency and higher degradation rates will actually offset the price difference between value and premium solar panels in the long term.

Produce More Power

With high efficiency panels that degrade slowly, like SunPower, you end of producing more electricity per panel long term.

Conventional panels are usually in the 14% to 18% efficiency range with 80% performance promised after 25 years. SunPower Panels are 21.5% efficient with 90% performance promised after 25 years.

If you take a conventional system and compare it to a SunPower system you see that long term, premium panels perform better.

A 10KW solar array made with conventional panels at 17% efficiency would perform like a 8KW in 25 years. A 10KW SunPower System at 21.5% efficiency and 90% performance in 25 years would perform like a 9KW system.

Conclusion

Choosing a high efficiency solar panel that has slow degradation will improve the long term performance of a solar system in Park City.

Higher efficiency panels also require smaller footprints which allows Park City homeowners with higher electrical bill to offset their full power bill even with limited roof space.

3 Reasons Why Winter is The Best Time for Your Solar Project

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If you're thinking about switching to solar this year, you might need to start planning earlier than you think.

Let’s take a look at 3 reasons why it is a good idea to start planning your solar project during the winter.

1. 2 to 6 month Project Timeline

While most people wait until the summer months to start their home projects, if you are thinking about solar and want to maximize your first year returns, you will want to start searching and getting quotes between January and April.

Getting all the necessary permits, engineering, power agreements, and installation completed typically takes a couple of months at a minimum.

Solar can take anywhere from 2 to 6 months to go from design to installation.

Solar projects have to be approved by the city, power company, fire department, and sometimes HOA’s; this can slow down the installation process.

We typically get projects turned around in 2 months, but turnaround time is different from installer to installer.

To get your system installed in time to catch the summer months and maximize your summer production, start looking into solar as soon as possible.

2. Maximize Summer Sun Hours

During the summer months the sun shines for much longer than in the winter, and because of that, your solar panels will produce a majority of the power that is needed to power your home for the entire year during the summer.

If you look at the chart below that details the amount of time the sun is shining, you can see that it starts to increase in April and May. As a homeowner getting solar, to see best results, you want to have as many of the peak months over 4 hours as possible.

During the first year, a homeowner will see better returns if they have their system installed to capture as many of the summer months as possible.

Sun Minutes By Month


3. Yearly Solar Credit Reset.

When you install solar, you sign a net metering agreement with your power company that allows you to tell sell back your extra power and accumulate solar credits.

With solar, you want to accumulate most of your solar credits at the beginning of the credit cycle because your solar panels will produce more power during the summer months than the winter months.

Rocky Mountain Power resets your solar credits on April 1st every year. To maximize your first-year power production, we recommended that you switch as close to the new solar credit cycle as possible.

The ideal time to get your solar installed is at the beginning of the solar credit cycle.

How You Accumulate Solar Credits

Your solar panel system is meant to offset the amount of power that you have historically used.

By checking how much power you’ve consumed in the past year, a system is designed that can produce the same amount of energy.

During the summer months the sun shines for much longer than in the winter, and because of that, your solar panels will produce a majority of the power that is needed to power your home for the entire year during the summer.

During May, June, July, August, and September; your bill will be entirely replaced, and your system will produce extra energy.

During these 5 months, your system will produce a majority of the power needed for the year.

Because your system produces extra power in the summer, the credits that you accumulate compensate for the energy that your system can’t produce during the winter.

Conclusion

While most people wait until the summer months to start their home projects, if you are thinking about solar and want to maximize your first year, you will want to start searching and getting quotes in January/ February.

Getting all the necessary permits, engineering, power agreements, and installation completed typically takes a couple of months at the minimum. We usually get projects turned around in 2 months, but turnaround time is different from installer to installer.

To get your system installed in time to catch the summer months and maximize your summer production, start looking into solar as soon as possible.

Key Takeaways

  • Start planning early

  • Solar takes 2-6 months to install (We typically take 2 months)

  • Your system will produce most of your power in the summer

  • The credits you accumulate in the summer will be used in the winter

  • Solar credits reset on April 1st

  • Get quotes in January/February/March to get installed in the spring/summer

SunPower Voted #1 In Solar Sustainability

When you think about solar and solar panels, the first thing that most likely pops into your head is sustainability. While solar panels and solar energy are sustainable, the manufacturing of solar panels does have a footprint.

Solar panels require various minerals and processes that use natural resources and have an impact on the environment. Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition created the solar scorecard to grade solar panel manufacturers sustainable practices to help reduce the impact of manufacturing solar panels.

For the second year in a row, SunPower was rated the most sustainable solar panel manufacturer.

Let’s take a look at what makes SunPower the most sustainable solar manufacturer.

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What is the Solar Scorecard?

The solar scorecard is a comprehensive rating for the top 35 solar manufacturers that ranks the sustainability of a company by looking at eight different categories:

  • Extended Producer Responsibility

  • Emissions Reporting

  • Worker Rights, Health, and Safety

  • Supply Chains

  • Module Toxicity & Materials

  • Energy & GHGs

  • Conflict Minerals

  • Water

Each category has a specified top rating of either 10 or 15 with a total possible score of 100. SunPower scored a 98/100 on the scorecard.

What Makes SunPower More Sustainable?

SunPower institutes a variety of practices in research, development, and manufacturing to make sure that all resources used are used minimally and thoughtfully.

At SunPower’s Silicon Valley Research Facility, they deployed techniques that help cut down on water usage and the electricity needed to produce cells and panels.

SunPower also has a solar recycling program in place to help achieve the vision of producing landfill free products.

SunPower has also joined forces with other solar manufacturers and SEIA to launch a first of its kind U.S. Solar Panel Recycling Program.

All these efforts and more, both by SunPower and other leading sustainable companies, aim to create quality products and goods that consumers can feel good about supporting.

While we are proud of this ranking and achievement, we view the Solar Scorecard not as an award but rather as a benchmarking tool. It helps us understand what we are doing right and what we need to improve. It also encourages us to have an ongoing dialogue with SVTC and other stakeholders to help guide SunPower’s sustainability strategy.

Marissa Yao, SunPower

SunPower also believes in building new highly efficient manufacturing plants. SunPower’s Mexicali, Mexico plant became their first triple certified plant.

This means the plant has earned three of the industry’s most stringent sustainability certifications: The direct current E-Series and X-Series solar panels it manufactures are Cradle to Cradle Certified™ Silver, and the facility holds LEED Gold® certification from the U.S. Green Building Council and Landfill-Free Verification from NSF Sustainability. (SunPower)

SunPower is the world’s first and only solar company to earn the prestigious Cradle to Cradle Certified Silver designation.

Products that receive recognition from the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute are ranked against strict standards in material health, material reuse, renewable energy use, water stewardship, and social fairness.

Conclusion

Solar panels and solar energy are a great source of clean energy, but though most people think of sustainability when thinking about solar, some manufacturers do a better job of producing sustainable solar panels.

Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition’s scorecard helps consumers and solar manufacturers learn about their manufacturing practices and determine how sustainable a company is.

SunPower was ranked the #1 solar panel manufacturer with a score of 98 out of 100 thanks to their sustainable practices and commitment to constant improvement.