Financial incentives for energy efficiency and renewable energy are constantly changing, varied, and sometimes complex, but almost always worth pursuing BEFORE you begin work. Winneshiek Energy District offers high-quality auditing services which, though they carry a significant cost, are meant to diagnose, analyze, and prioritize all cost-effective energy efficiency options AND make sure to connect you with all applicable financial assistance and incentive options.
The Iowa Utilities Board, with input from stakeholders and utility providers, has developed the IUB Informational Guide for On-Site Generation, a good informational guide for individuals to use as they consider installing solar and on-site energy production.
The most comprehensive source of information for all energy efficiency and renewable energy incentives is the DSIRE web page. The Iowa state incentives are summarized here, and federal incentives are summarized here. Another good source for energy incentives is the Department of Energy’s “savings” page.
For tax incentives specific to solar, see DSIRE’s pages: Federal Personal tax credit, Federal Commercial tax credit, Iowa personal solar tax credit, and Iowa Corporate Solar tax credit. Also see the Iowa Department of Revenue’s page for more about Iowa’s solar tax credit, and for an application: Iowa tax credit info and application.
Key terms to be aware of:
NET METERING at it’s most basic level just says you can build a solar photovoltaic system and connect it to the grid, and when you’re producing more than you’re using the utility needs to pay you for that surplus. A few years back, the utility would likely pay you “avoided cost” – generally less than half of your retail rate. Now, all Winneshiek County utility customers should be eligible for net metering with surplus production credited to your account, which essentially gives you retail rate. This is a major financial benefit to solar projects. It doesn’t help you with up-front costs, but it certainly makes the power you’re generating more valuable over time.
TAX CREDITS are available to those with tax liability, including most (but not all) residential, agricultural, and commercial/industrial entities. Governments and non-profits generally cannot take advantage of these, though see the note below for exceptions and future changes. The federal tax credit is 30% of the system cost, and the Iowa tax credit is half the federal credit, or 15% of system costs. The DSIRE Iowa and federal solar pages above explain these credits, and more information is available from the Tax Incentives Assistance Project, the Alliance to Save Energy, and the Energy Star web page.
Northeast Iowa Community Action’s Weatherization Assistance Program covers cost-effectiveness audits and retrofits for qualifying lower-income homeowners in NE Iowa.
Federal tax credits exist for renewable energy systems through 2016, and this Department of Energy page provides the details.
Black Hills Energy has extensive incentives for their residential and commercial customers in Iowa. To access these incentives BHE requires completion of the “Iowa Gas Free Home Energy Evalutation” for residents and the “Small Business Energy Evaluation” for commercial/industrial businesses as described at the top of the residential and commercial/industrial program pages.
Alliant Energy also has extensive incentives for residential, farm, and business customers.
Hawkeye REC offers some incentives, and the “services” menu on their home page includes links to more information on audits, rebates, and renewable generation.
Iowa Propane Gas Association provides rebates for efficient propane furnaces and water heaters through authorized marketers.
The Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency is the go-to source for overviews of all incentives available on a state-by-state bases. It provides links to more information on tax credits for renewable generation, utility programs, regulatory and policy issues, and much more.
Black Hills Energy
Be sure to check out our cost-share program as well for a 30% rebate in addition to any of the above! (up to $2000 per home)