|There is no better time than now to go solar in Washington|
|Written by Tammy Deets, Community Energy Solutions|
Summer is just around the corner and it is the perfect time to go solar in Western Washington. Modern solar energy systems not only work well in our climate, there are compelling incentives available that make Washington among the most attractive places in the country to go solar. But the clock is ticking on these incentives, and the best time to act is now.
People often ask how solar energy can work in a place which is often gray and overcast. You may be surprised to learn that the solar viability of Western Washington is not that much different from sunny California. The simple reason is that while solar panels like sunlight, they do not like heat. When the temperature is low, the voltage in a panel stays high. Conversely, when the temperature is high, the voltage drops. Without getting into too much technical speak, suffice it to say that while the southern climates have more sun, due to the heat their actual solar electricity production is not a great deal more than ours. Sacramento exceeds the Puget Sound area by only 12 to 15 percent. Even in winter when it is gray and cold outside, solar panels produce electricity by converting the sun’s radiation quietly, without noise or pollution. And the rain is actually our friend, for it naturally cleans and washes the panels, so they will be ready when the sun comes out.
It is not just our Northwest climate that works in your favor. Going solar in your home and business now can be a financially rewarding decision. This is because there are valuable financial incentives available. These include:
• Federal Tax Incentive. 30 percent off the total cost of the project can be taken as a federal tax credit; a dollar for dollar reduction in your tax bill. This expires in 2016.
• State Production Incentive. If you use Washington-made solar modules and inverters, you will be paid 54 cents for every kilowatt hour the system produces. This is about six times what you are presently paying your utility. This production-based incentive expires in 2020.
• State Sales Tax Incentive. Till June 2013, no sales tax is charged on photovoltaic systems less than 10 kilowatts.
Taking the above together, it is no wonder why the number of people who have gone solar in Washington have more than doubled in the last two years. But, the incentives each have a corresponding time limit. This creates the situation that waiting will literally cost you money. A good strategy to take, is go solar now and use the incentives to pay off your system, where after you will reap the benefits of free electricity from the sun, which has no time limit. Remember, having a solar energy system will protect you from rising electricity rates. Also, studies have shown that homes listed as green have higher asking prices and sell faster in Seattle and Portland area than “comparable” homes.
Sounds good, but does solar work for you personally? The best way to find out is to have a professional come to your home or business and do a site evaluation. The consultant will look for such things as south-facing access to sunlight, roof orientation and the condition of your roof. He or she will also work with you on creating a system that fits your budget and energy goals.
So go solar now and make a difference. It will help not just the environment but your pocketbook.
Tammy Deets is a director of the not-for-profit organization Community Energy Solutions, which is spearheading the Go Solar Washington initiative. For details, including Go Solar Woodinville workshop schedule, please go to www.GoSolarWoodinville.com.