More Questions Answered on New Solar Incentive Program

We are doing our best to keep our customers and readers informed about the new solar incentive package passed by the state legislature this year. We have already provided an overview of the new incentives now available, and this month the Washington State University Energy Program has published its own summary with answers to frequently asked questions.

The six-page document answers a wide range of questions, with heavy emphasis on questions about the application process, which is being administered by the WSU Energy Program. To read the view or download the document as a PDF, click here.

New Washington State Solar Incentive Program Details

Now that the so-called Solar Jobs Bill has been adopted by the Washington State Legislature as part of the state operating budget passed last month, solar owners and installers are starting to get a picture of what new incentives will mean for home and business owners who rely on solar systems to power some portion of their monthly electricity needs.

Existing Solar Owners

Existing solar owners can expect to be paid at the same rate they were paid by their utility in 2016. There are no reductions to this rate, but the program ends on June 30, 2020. Additionally, some additional paperwork may be required to keep incentives flowing.

Up to this point, incentives have been administered by the state Department of Revenue and will continue to be until Sept. 30, but starting Oct. 1, administration transfers over to the Washington State University Energy Extension Program. Because of this, existing solar owners must reapply to WSU by April 30, 2018 in order to finish participation in the program through the June 30, 2020 end date.

Incentive payments remain limited to $5,000 per participant per year. Systems under 10 kilowatts are exempt from sales tax, while systems 10 kW or greater are eligible for 75 percent remittance.

Although the legacy program is technically limited to projects completed by June 30, 2017, there is a short window from July 1 to Sept. 30 when solar customers may opt to enroll in either the existing program or the new program. Starting Oct. 1, all solar projects will only be eligible for new incentives.

Future Solar Owners

Future solar owners are encouraged to act quickly, as the new program incentives step down each year from 2018 to 2021. Projects are eligible for a base rate plus a bonus if solar panels were manufactured in Washington state.

Year Residential Base Rate ($/kWh) Commercial Base Rate ($/kWh) Made-in-WA Bonus ($/kWh)
2018 $0.16 $0.06 $0.05
2019 $0.14 $0.04 $0.04
2020 $0.12 $0.02 $0.03
2021 $0.10 $0.02 $0.02

Under the new program, solar owners receive the same flat rate over the life of incentive payments, determined by the year when the project was completed. Incentives run for eight years or until 50 percent of the project cost is recouped, whichever occurs first. Projects 12 kW or smaller are capped at $5,000 per year, while projects larger than 12 kW may be paid up to $25,000 subject to a 25 percent program cap on total funds for these larger (usually commercial) projects.

Sales tax is required to be paid under the new program for all systems under 500 kW, while systems 500 kW or larger are subject to 75 percent remittance.

Full details are available on this handy summary produced by the Solar Installers of Washington.

New Solar Incentives Passed by WA Legislature

If you have been contemplating a solar installation for your home or business, but weren’t sure whether the incentives would be there to help finance the investment — your wait is over, as new solar incentives in Washington state officially become available tomorrow.

That’s because the Washington state House and Senate today passed legislation that had become known as the Solar Jobs Bill as part of their $43.7 billion state budget package, which came after multiple special sessions and narrowly averted a partial shutdown of state services.

“We didn’t just pass a bill,” Bonnie Frye Hemphill, campaign director of Keep WA Solar Strong, said in a statement. “Together, we built a community of 10,000 people passionate about clean energy and energy independence.”

The bill replaces outdated incentives for solar owners with a new program designed to boost incentive caps for public utilities, who can make their incentives available to homes and business in their districts. The bill offers a new incentive payment schedule for solar owners that starts at $0.16 per kilowatt hour (kWh) and adds bonuses for systems with solar panels manufactured in Washington state.

While more details about the new solar incentive program will become available in the coming days — and it will take some time for various utilities to put their incentive packages together — owners of homes and businesses in Washington state should know that they can move forward with plans to go solar with the support of incentives that officially become available July 1.

If you are interested in exploring the installation of a solar system tied to the grid of your local electric utility in Washington state, drop us a note on our contact page or give us a call at (800) 696-8935.

State Legislation Would Boost Incentives for Solar Owners

Proposed legislation in Olympia could increase the incentives available for solar installations in Washington state if approved by lawmakers during this year’s special session.

The Solar Jobs Bill (House Bill 1048/Senate Bill 5499) would bring an end to the outdated Renewable Energy System Cost Recovery Program on June 30, 2017, and would replace it with a new program designed to increase incentive caps for utilities and offer new incentives for homeowners, businesses or government entities who own solar installations or participate in community solar projects.

Under the proposed program, utilities would be able to claim a minimum annual credit of $100,000 up to a half a percent of the utility’s total power sales. This credit would be made available for utility customers to apply toward qualifying solar systems under the new program.

The new cost recovery program for solar owners allows for incentive payments starting at 16 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), increasing another $0.08/kWh for using solar panels manufactured in the state of Washington for a maximum incentive rate of $0.24/kWh. For community solar installations — for people whose rooftops aren’t right for solar or who don’t own their homes — the rate increases to $1.08/kWh.

Sponsored by Rep. Jeff Morris, D-Mount Vernon, HB 1048 has been designated “necessary to implement the budget,” which means it will be considered as part of the budget approval process. A companion bill in the state Senate, SB 5499, similarly seeks to re-establish healthy solar incentives.

Numerous organizations, from environmental groups and faith communities to utilities and labor unions, are supporting the so-called Solar Jobs Bill with a sign-on petition led by the Solar Installers of Washington. The group is offering information and suggestions on contacting legislators at SolarStrongWA.org.

Three Months Left to Cash In On Snohomish PUD Solar Incentives

If you have been considering going solar and happen to live anywhere between Lynnwood and Stanwood — that is, Snohomish County — you might want to go green before the greenbacks are gone.

Snohomish County PUD has announced that their Solar Express program will be sunsetting on June 30, 2017. This means residents of Snohomish County and Camano Island have just three months to get their residential or commercial solar project submitted in order to receive up to $2,000 in incentives for residential installs and $8,000 for commercial installations before the incentives expire.

The specific rebate Snohomish PUD offers for solar projects is $300 per kW. Projects must meet certain requirements, one of which is that the installation site must capture at least 75 percent of direct sunlight when taking into account orientation, shade, tilt and other factors.

If you would like to get more information about the expiring program, visit the Learn About Going Solar page on the Snohomish PUD website. If you would like a free estimate on your project from Solora Solar, give us a call at (425) 366-8953 or tell us on our contact page.

If you don’t live in Snohomish County but are curious about incentives, give us a call. In minutes, we can usually tell you the federal, state and local incentives for which you may qualify.