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reduce your tax bill, invest in solar panels

April 15th, the most dreaded day for Americans since its the last day to pay off the IRS. How much did you pay Uncle Sam this year? Some Americans paid less to the IRS this year by taking advantage of the generous tax credits given to homeowners and businesses to install solar panels that generate electricity or heat water. Before 2009, individuals were capped at a $2,000 tax credit maximum, but this year was historic in terms of how much money people are receiving for installing renewable energy. Individuals and corporations can take a full 30% of the final installed cost of the system as a tax credit against your tax bill. Deductions, reduce your taxable income, tax credits on the other hand are a dollar-for-dollar reduction of your tax liability. It’s quite simple to claim the investments you made in solar panels or wind turbines, take a close look at the Tax Credit section on the 1040, you’ll notice a renewable energy section in which you can enter the credit you qualify for. If you’re interested in learning more about the tax credits you qualify for installing renewable energy check out...

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simple calculation for solar pv payback

Too many people call us everyday and ask how the figure out the payback period of an investment in a solar pv system. Today, I wanted to focus on showing you how to simply calculate how long it will take you to break even on a solar electric system you maybe considering for a home or business. (Total system cost after incentives) + (Maintenance costs x Equipment lifetime)—————————————————————————————————-(Annual system kWh production) x (Your electric rate cost per kWh) Maintenance costs = $0.02/Annual system kWh productionEquipment lifetime = 25 – 30 years You can forecast annual system kWh production using PVWatts Check your electric bill for your cost per kWh, if you can’t figure out what your average cost for every unit of electricity you consume, then it’s going to be impossible to forecast a payback period for your investment in a solar electric system. Get to know your electric...

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is solar for your home a smart investment?

To estimate if solar would make a smart financial investment it takes a handful of key variables which include location, weather, orientation, slope of your roof, and obstacles that could cause shading as the path of the sun changes based on the season. Green Power Labs has created an online tool called SolarRating which helps you determine if you have a suitable location for solar panels. What I like about the online tool is the website explains why each variable is important in calculating the feasibility of solar panels. When I talk to interested consumers they typically say, “I have a lot of sun on my roof” and assume solar panels would be a smart investment but sometimes a house may not be suited for solar power. SolarRating OnLine gives your home a color-coded rating and helps you determine if you have a good location for solar panels by asking you questions about your project site. At the end of the process you can buy a custom report for $9.95 which will indicate your “solar score” which should give you a good idea if solar panels are worth pursuing for your home. what do you think about online tools that help you figure out solar...

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interconnection agreement 101

If you’re considering to grid tie your wind turbine or solar panels, you need to understand the interconnection agreement. Since your clean energy system will interact directly with the grid it will require you to enter into an agreement with your utility company. The interconnection agreement covers the terms and conditions of the clean energy system which will be interconnected. Specifically these agreements contain information about the technical specifications, safety, power quality, building permit required and insurance information. To ensure success of your grid tie wind turbine or solar panel project obtaining and reviewing the interconnectionagreement at the start of your project. Each utility has their own interconnection agreement, so its best to call your electric utility and ask for a copy of their agreement. There is a national standard when it comes to connecting to the grid and many utilities are following the standards. The standards of connecting to the grid focus on the grid tie inverter meeting both UL and IEEE standards. An inverter that is listed UL 1741 has “utility interactive” printed on the case which signifies that the inverter is fully compatible with IEEE 1547...

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30% cash payment to install solar panels?

Is it really raining money for people who install solar panels? Yesterday, at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science President Obama first toured the museum’s solar panel installation right before he singed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, into law. The 787 billion dollar stimulus package is very supportive of energy efficiency and renewable energy. The most interesting incentive in the energy section of the stimulus package is the federal tax credit of 30% for installing solar panels is now going to be offered as a 30% solar grant. This means, within 60 days of installing a solar electric system the U.S. Treasury Department will send you a check for 30% of the total installed cost. Isn’t that unbelievable?! For the first time ever the federal government will give you a cash payment to install solar panels! Sounds too good to be true. There is a lot of uncertainty behind how the “federal solar grant” is going to really work since the administration has not drafted the terms yet, which is expected to be completed within 30 to 60 days. Rumors are flying around as people are guessing how this incentive is going to be formulated. People are saying residential installations will not qualify for the 30% federal solar grant only corporations will be able to snap up free money to install solar panels, bummer for homeowners. Also the solar grant maybe taxable as income on the state level, but it’s all speculation until the administration clearly defines how it’s going to work. I sure hope everyone who installs solar panels both homeowners and businesses will qualify for the grant. It would be unfair to exclude individuals, since they’re taxpayers too. Don’t you agree? What have you heard about the historic solar grant? What do you think about the 30% solar...

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Oncor opens the flood gates on solar rebates

Oncor, an electric company that serves Texas launched their “Take A Load Off, Texas” solar rebate program to motivate homes and businesses to embrace solar panels. Oncor’ generous rebate of $2.46 per DC watt up to a maximum of $24,600 for homes and and up to $246,000 for commercial and public projects will stimulate the local economy due to the surge of demand for solar panel installations. The program is funded with 16 million dollars and will run for four years, Oncor expects to have 1,400 solar power systems installed by the end of their solar rebate program. Last time I posted about Oncor’s solar rebate program, a couple community members found out that Oncor does not extend the rebate to owner installed systems, the solar power systems would have to be installed by a solar contractor that is approved by Oncor. Later this year Oncor will also offer more incentives for energy efficiency, they’re on track to becoming the most aggressive electric company in Texas promoting energy efficiency and clean power. I say its about time, since Texas has above the national average electric rates and plenty of solar irradiation. What do you think about Oncor kicking off “Take A Load Off, Texas” rebate...

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