Solar Incentive Glossary
Battery Backup Systems
Battery backup systems can store electricity from the grid or a fuel-powered generator to provide emergency power when the grid goes down. It can also store energy created PV system to power appliances and lights at night after the sun goes down. 

Feed in Tariffs,
a Performance Based Incentive, or PBI

(Available for Grid Tied Systems.)
Feed-in Tariffs are typically long term contracts with your local utility for performance-based compensation. 

The contracts are typically a 15-25 year purchase agreement at a guaranteed rate. The rate may decrease over time as specified in the agreement. Feed-in Tariffs may ultimately pay for your PV system or even exceed your initial investment depending on the specifics in the contract. 

Originally started in Germany in 1990 and restructured in 2000 to include the right to interconnect to the utility grid. It was designed as an incentive to promote cost-effective renewable energy use and advancements in technologies. Due to its success, the current German policy is the cornerstone for the creation of many feed-in tariff programs around the globe. 

Green Building Programs
(May be available for Off-grid and/or Grid-tied Systems.)
Green Building Programs are generally for new construction and remodeling, or just adding a solar electric system. The most common incentives are reductions or waivers of building permit fees. Some state or local organizations offer coupons that reduce construction and/or installation costs to homeowners. The home or business owner usually gives the coupon to their program-authorized installer/contractor. Once the system is installed the installer/contractor can be reimbursed for the amount of the coupon by the program's organization. 

Grid-Tied PV Systems
Grid tied systems are inter-connected to send energy back to the grid when your solar electric system creates more than you're using; and you can receive energy from the grid when you're using more electricity than your system is generating at the moment. Learn more about grid-tied solar systems.

(May be available for Off-grid and/or Grid-tied Systems.)
State or local governments may offer low or zero interest loans for renewable energy projects. Terms are typically 10 years or less. If you are going to purchase or remodel a home that you are going to add a solar system to you may also want to see the Energy Star website for information on Energy Improvement Mortgages (EIMs)

Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing may be offered by states that have been authorized to participate in this program. The amount of the loan is determined by a special assessment of your property and is typically repaid over a period of years. 

Check with your local banks and credit unions as they may offer renewable energy loans for less than the prime rate. Also consider that mortgage loans and home equity loans can offer several advantages: longer terms, lower interest rates than conventional bank loans, and tax-deductible interest.
Net Metering
(Available for Grid Tied Systems.)
As of January 2012, only four states do not have net metering policies ‐ South Dakota, Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee. These programs are for utility customers who generate their own electricity and feed excess energy back into the grid. Net-metered customers may use grid energy when their electrical demand exceeds their solar electric system's output. Solar electric credit rates are applied to the customer's total electric use and are shown on the utility bills. 

The credit rates and rules vary from state to state. Unused solar electric system credits may expire in a specified time period or they may be carried over from year to year. The credits may only be applied to the utility bill or you may be allowed to get a refund check at the end of a designated period, usually the end of the year. 

Off-Grid PV Systems
Off grid systems do not feed energy back to the grid. You may be completely independent from the grid or you may be receiving grid electricity to supplement your system (Grid-Assisted).Learn more about off-grid solar systems.

Solar PV System (Photovoltaics)
A solar PV system uses photovoltaic panels (or modules) to create electricity. This powers appliances, lights, and other electric equipment. 

Solar Thermal System
A solar thermal system uses panels (or modules) to heat water. The hot water is typically used instead of a water heater for everyday water use, or in a radiant heating system to warm the air. 

State and Local Tax Incentives
(May be available for Off-grid and/or Grid-tied Systems.)
  • Personal tax incentives include income tax credits (dollar-for-dollar reduction on what you owe) and income tax deductions (reduces your taxable income).
  • Property tax exemptions, exclusions and credit incentives generally exclude the added value of the system from your yearly property tax. Abatements may reduce a percentage of your yearly property tax over time.
  • State sales tax incentives can be an exemption from or a credit towards the applicable sales tax.
Utility Rate Discounts & Rebates
(Available for Grid Tied Systems.)
Some utilities and state or local programs may offer temporarily reduced rates on utility bills, or one time rebates on the installation of solar systems and purchases of energy efficient appliances and/or HVAC systems.


How Many Sun Hours a Day Do You Get?

Zone 1      6 hours
Zone 2      5.5 hours
Zone 3      5 hours
Zone 4      4.5 hours
Zone 5      4.2 hours
Zone 6      3.5 hours



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