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.

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

Photo credit: Governor Jay & First Lady Trudi Inslee

Rooftop Solar Cools and Reduces Thermal Stress

With spring in full swing, the clouds have just started to give way to glorious sunshine. Soon things will be heating up. When considering the overall efficiency of your residence or commercial building, a roof-mount solar installation may be able to help you beyond the generation of clean energy and savings in electrical utility bills.

That’s because one often overlooked benefit of a solar install on your roof is the way the panels act as a shield from the heat of the summer sun, resulting in cooler temperatures inside. In fact, researchers from the San Diego campus of the University of California concluded that the daytime temperature of a ceiling inside a building averaged “5 degrees Fahrenheit cooler under solar panels than under an exposed roof.”

In fact, the study found the money saved in air conditioning costs was worth roughly 5 percent the price typically paid for solar modules. Obviously the panels themselves are a barrier to the sun’s heat — reducing the amount of heat reaching the roof by 38 percent in some cases — but there are other factors in play as well.

“Much of the heat is removed by wind blowing between the panels and the roof,” researchers reported, adding that greater cooling effects are achieved with a tilted solar panel install and with high-efficiency solar modules.

At night, the study said, solar panels allowed buildings to keep the heat accumulated inside due to insulating properties of the panels. The study concluded that the reduced “variability” in rooftop temperatures “reduces thermal stresses on the roof and leads to energy savings and/or human comfort benefits.”

So if you’ve been pondering a switch to solar, here’s yet another reason why solar could be a great investment for your home or business. If you would like a free energy assessment, get in touch with us at Solora Solar today.

For more information on the UC San Diego study, we recommend a couple of great summaries at TreeHugger and EarthSky. You can read the full study on ScienceDirect.

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.

Five Years From Now

What were you doing five years ago?

Sometimes when we look ahead, five years seems like such a long time to wait to receive a promotion, save up for a new car, take a vacation or reach some other long-desired goal. But when we look back just five years ago and think about our family, our home, our lives — we are faced with the reality that five years goes by so fast.

Five years from now, what will you be thinking about the choices you’re making today? It’s a question that challenges us.

At Solora Solar, we gain great satisfaction from the five-year mark in our relationships with customers because that’s the point at which their solar installation typically has earned enough in energy production and tax incentives to have repaid their investment in the system. We haven’t encountered a customer yet who reached that five-year mark and regretted their decision.

It’s a great feeling for us, but an even better feeling for them.

That’s why if you are considering going solar, we encourage you to think back to where your life was at just five years ago. If you go solar in 2017, the next five years is going to go pass just as quickly as the last five. And then you will be living in a home that is worth more and generating free energy from that point forward.

What will your life be like five years from now?

Photo credit: Michael Ruiz

Solora Solar Wins 2016 Best of Yakima Award

best-of-yakimaSolora Solar won the 2016 Best of Yakima Award honoring the best local businesses in the community, it was announced last week. The 2016 Yakima Award Program chose Solora Solar as one of a select number of companies who demonstrate “exceptional marketing success in their local community” and “service to their customers and our community.”

“These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business,” the Yakima Award Program said in a statement. “These exceptional companies help make the Yakima area a great place to live, work and play.”

The program analyzes information from both internal and third-party sources to determine annual winners in various categories, identifying Solora as a winner in the Local Business category for 2016.

“Recognition is given to those companies that have shown the ability to use their best practices and implemented programs to generate competitive advantages and long-term value,” the award statement said.

Solora has won a number of awards for excellence, also being recognized as a Top 10 solar contractor in Washington state by Solar Power World multiple times.

The 2016 Yakima Award Program officially announced Solora Solar as a winner of the 2016 Best of Yakima Award for Local Business on Dec. 8. Solora Solar is owned by Syed Mujtaba and serves the entire state of Washington from its Yakima and Issaquah locations.

We Love Staying In Touch With Our Customers

Solora Solar is fortunate to work with homeowners who like to build a long-term relationship with their solar contractor. We love this! It means we get to answer a lot of important customer questions after the installation of their solar system, and it also means we get to receive many enjoyable updates about how solar is powering homes and saving energy and utility costs.

One such customer, Raj from Richland, Wash., has dropped us a couple of notes over the first few months of his Solora Solar install, and we thought we might pass along a glimpse into the life of a solar-powered homeowner, as told by him.

When Raj first had his solar system installed, he checked in with this report:

“Solora was recommended by a couple of our friends with rather high professional standards. To satisfy our curiosity, we also got other bids. Solora’s professionalism (and their price) won. All round/consistent good job throughout the contract. Took just one day to install (6 weeks after contract). Even with roof panels facing South East (vs. true South) and the present “low April Sun”, it has already generated 800 kWh in 22 days and pushed 130 kWh back into the grid (DE). That’s ~$2000 in incentives just this “season” ending 6/30/2016.”

Things would only improve from there, as Raj noticed the impact on his power bill. He dropped us this note six months later:

“Following up on my above post from April…it has been almost 8 months now since system install. Our system has already generated 8.6 kWh in this time with 4 more months to go. I’m sure to break 10.5 kWh or more for the first 12 months. Zero electric bills since inception as well, with the excess (delivered) power being used to lower our (combined) water and trash bills also. Received more than double Solara’s original estimate of $1200 state incentive from date of install (March 23) to June 30. Very satisfied!”

Most of our customers will email or call with updates like these. Raj shared his as comments on a blog post titled, ironically enough, Attention Solar Customers: We’re In This Together.

If you are considering a solar install for your home or business, and you would like the benefit of a long-term partner in the project who you can turn to with questions or feedback, consider Solora Solar and contact us today!

Report: Solar Solar on Cutting Edge of Commercial Solar Increase

screencapture-yakimaherald-news-local-with-help-from-incentives-yakima-valley-small-businesses-look-to-article_536546fe-561e-11e6-882b-67e35894c28c-html-1475193780330Solora Solar was featured last month in the July 29 issue of the Yakima Herald as the newspaper called attention to the growing number of small businesses making the move to solar electricity in the Yakima Valley.

The report highlighted Solora Solar’s success with bringing solar to commercial businesses as well as Solora’s upcoming commercial project with Green Acre Farms in Wapato, Wash., which promises to be one of the largest solar projects of any kind in central Washington state. That project is projected to save the company up to a half a million dollars over the next 25 years.

The article highlighted the fact that commercial installations account for about 25 percent of Solora Solar’s business and that, nationally, commercial power accounts for about 15 percent of all solar power currently generated in the United States.

Quoting Solora Solar owner Syed Mujtaba, the report noted that the increase in commercial solar installations has been driven by the lower cost of solar panels, the increased efficiency of these panels and the numerous incentives and tax credits available to businesses who act now.

“All that adds up,” Mujtaba told the newspaper.

View the complete article here: With help from incentives, Yakima Valley small businesses look to solar 

Attention Solar Customers: We’re In This Together

A solar power system is a significant investment — one that makes a positive impact on your wallet and the environment. You should know that when you choose Solora, you have the assurance that we’re with you for the life of your system, and that’s a long time.

To start with, there are lots of forms to fill out in order to take advantage of all the tax incentives. We take care of those for you. All you have to do is add your signature. We also follow up each year when the incentive paperwork is due again to make sure that you aren’t missing out on those savings.

We want new solar power system owners to feel confident and capable. That’s why, at the time of installation, you will receive a binder with your owner’s manual and all the documentation. We walk you through everything you need to know to get the most out of your system.

Our goal is to see you more than satisfied with your solar system. If you ever experience an issue of any kind, we’re just a phone call away.

There’s a reason that 70 percent of our business comes from referrals of happy customers.

As a way of saying thank you, we offer a $500 bonus for any referral resulting in an installation.

Project Sunroof Offers Residents Solar Analysis

Google is making it easier for you to go solar.

With their new Project Sunroof, soon you’ll be able to use Google Earth & Maps technology to complete a shade analysis of your roof. Previously a task set aside for solar professionals, it’s one of the first steps in determining if solar power is the right choice for your household or business.

Currently only available in the San Francisco Bay Area, Fresno, Calif., and Boston, Google’s ad says that Project Sunroof will “soon… grow to include the entire country… and maybe even the whole world.”

How Does it Work?

Just enter your address and your solar analysis will be generated in seconds. It takes into account a 3-D model of your roof, the shadows that nearby trees and buildings cast, the angles of the sun over the course of a year, and historical weather patterns that might affect your solar production.

You will be given a recommendation on the size of your installation in square feet and a cost/savings estimate (including federal and state tax credits, utility rebates, etc.). After that, you’ll have the option to share your analysis with one or more local solar providers listed to begin discussing your next steps.

Ultimately, your solar provider will run a final solar production estimate before beginning installation. But isn’t it amazing what kind of detailed information we have at our fingertips?

Put in an address for one of the featured cities and take a look at what it will be like when it comes to our neck of the woods in Washington state.