In the last couple years, the solar industry has really taken off in Idaho. With over 200 MW of solar projects coming online in 2016 alone, solar is now producing enough electricity to power an estimated 30,000 homes! As a state, we have the tenth best solar resources in the country and the knowledge and experience to develop them.
According to the Solar Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to tracking the solar industry, there are over 600 direct jobs created by the industry here in Idaho. This is a 60% increase over 2015 and shows the tremendous potential that exists. What is needed to sustain this growth is smart, fair, and consistent regulations and policies at all levels of government. ICEA is working tirelessly to advocate for the solar industry. Our goal is to ensure that all Idahoans can reap the economic and environmental benefits that this technology can bring us.
Incentives for going solar:
Residential– there are currently two main tax incentives which can help dramatically lower costs for qualified households. Both of these are dependent on a number of factors so be sure to consult with your solar installer and a tax advisor.
Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC): 30% of the total cost of the solar system (both PV and thermal) can be claimed through a tax credit. There is no upper dollar limit to this credit and it does not have to be the resident’s primary home.
On 12/31/2019 credit drops to 26%
On 12/31/2020 credit drops to 22%
Expires on 01/01/2022
For a more comprehensive look at this incentive take a look at A Homeowner’s Guide to the Federal Investment Tax Credit for Solar PV, by the NC Clean Energy Technology Center.
Idaho Residential Alternative Energy Tax Deduction: Allows a state income tax deduction for four years. This deduction maxes out at $1,480 worth of savings over the four years. For systems costing less than $25, 000 this amount will be lower.
Commercial– Both the Federal Investment Tax Credit and the Modified Accelerated Cost-Recovery System may be applied to commercial and industrial solar installations.
Modified Accelerated Cost-Recovery System (MACRS): Potentially could result in additional 30% of system costs recovered through a heavily front loaded accelerated depreciated schedule in five years.
Check out the DSIRE repository of incentives and programs for Idaho to see what else is out there. Included are programs for energy efficiency and incentives offered by Idaho Power and other Idaho utilities.
How does it work? Net Metering!
The vast majority of solar systems in Idaho are connected through a program called net metering. Under this program, households remain connected to the electrical grid which allows them to draw power as normal when the sun is not shining.
When their solar is producing, the house uses all it needs first then any excess power is sent back to the utility and the customer receives a one-for-one credit which they can use at a later time. In essence, the electrical grid is being used as a giant battery.
Visit our “Business Members” page to see qualified solar installers in your area.
Explore these resources to learn more about solar in Idaho:
Google’s Project Sunroof– Type in your address to see if your roof is good for solar. While this program cannot see details like roof vents it can give you a good idea if your house or business is oriented well. According to Google’s calculations, 84% of roofs in Idaho are solar-viable.
Idaho Public Utilities Commission– Learn about the regulatory body that governs Idaho utilities.
Solar Energy Industries Association’s Idaho snapshot. A quick glance at overall numbers for the state.