Now is the Time to (re)Consider Solar

Joel Zook, Energy Planner

I am taking another hard look at solar panels for my home. My roof is not an ideal site for solar; It faces west and is heavily shaded through most of the morning. I ran the numbers shortly after buying my house and the payback was longer than I was willing to commit to. However, it’s been a few years and prices continue to fall. Additionally, improved design of panels and inverters allows for better production, even in partially shaded locations.

Now is the time to consider solar. The federal tax credits remain in full effect (30%) through the end of 2019, and the Iowa solar tax credit (15%) has been extended another year. The federal tax credits continue through 2021, though at lower levels (26% and 22%). The Iowa solar tax credit is tied to match 50% of the federal tax credit, so it will taper off along with the federal. More importantly, the state solar tax credit has been at risk of not being extended for the past three legislative sessions. Each time it has been renewed, but only for a year at a time. Next year could be the year that it is not renewed, or the amount could be reduced.

Additionally, the installed cost of solar may have reached a temporary bottom for the first time ever. Solar prices have fallen an incredible 60% over the past 10 years, but for the first time, we are seeing upward pressure on panel and hardware prices from the tariffs on solar panels, as well as tariffs on steel and aluminum used in mounting hardware.

If you’re thinking about solar or wanting to do it, now is the time to give it some serious thought. Get your solar in now – either this summer or get booked for early 2019. We saw a rush of installed get crammed in the last half of 2016 when the federal tax credit was set to expire. Likely something similar will happen again at the end of 2019. You’ll get a more competitive bid from installers now before they are slammed with other customers.

All of our local installers are happy to give you a bid. If you’d like a third-party opinion from a non-installer, I’m happy to give you some basic site and shading analysis, sizing recommendation and payback calculations. This info can be helpful to have a basic understanding of before talking with an installer.

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