Celebrating Solar Power on Presidents’ Day
February 17, 2023
Solar is one of the most viable renewable energy sources. And as more and more people realize this, they’re investing in solar more widely.
But what’s the government got to do with it?
With Presidents’ Day around the corner, we’ll highlight some presidents who’ve made strides for renewable energy, as well as the government’s role in creating solar power incentives and policies that support the solar industry’s growth.
Presidential Advocates for Renewable Energy
A few presidents certainly stand out when it comes to advocating for alternative energy sources.
The most prominent standout is President Jimmy Carter. He pushed for the increased use of renewable energy throughout his presidency. In fact, he went so far as to have 32 solar panels installed on the White House during the 1979 oil crisis.
Four presidents later, George W. Bush was the next to install solar panels on the White House grounds (Reagan removed those Carter put up, unfortunately). Bush had a total of three solar systems — one was a 167-panel system on the maintenance building roof, and the other two were solar water heaters.
1n 2014, President Barack Obama installed an even larger solar panel array during his time in the Oval Office. This makes sense — he advocated regularly for clean energy policies. And thanks to his two-term presidency, those solar arrays went to good use for a long time.
President Biden is another standout. For starters, Biden reduced tariffs on solar imports from 30% to between 14% and 15%. This reduction makes it far easier for Americans to go solar because most panels aren’t made or assembled in the U.S.
By making it less expensive to import solar equipment, solar panel availability is much higher. Naturally, that makes it much simpler (and more affordable) for Americans to purchase and use them.
[Related: Solar Panel Maintenance & Repair Services]
U.S. Policies That Support Renewable Energy
States nationwide have adopted a number of policies to accommodate, facilitate and support going solar (and generally using renewable energy technologies).
For reference, here are the locations that Freedom Solar serves.
Solar power incentives include rebates, tax credits, grants and loans. Many states provide these to encourage the generation, purchase and use of solar power, as well as other renewable energy sources.
The federal solar investment tax credit (ITC) is the most widely known incentive. Solar customers receive a 30% tax credit on their solar PV system at tax time.
This percentage reflects the expansion and extension that the Biden administration’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) enacted. We’ll touch on that again later.
[Related: Guide to Federal Solar Panel Incentives]
Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS)
The RPS requires electric utilities and other retail electric providers to give customers a certain percentage or amount of power from renewable sources.
You can find further policy details in chapter 5 of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Energy and Environment Guide to Action.
Public Benefits Funds for Renewable Energy
Next, these public renewable energy funds are resources that states across the country use. The funds’ main goal is for states to encourage clean energy projects by investing in them..
Overall, the funds come from a small charge utilities place on customers’ electricity rates, also known as a “system benefits charge.”
To learn more, find policy details in the Electric Utility Regulatory Frameworks and Financial Incentives chapter of the EPA’s State Energy and Environment Guide to Action.
Output-Based Environmental Regulations
These regulations create limits around emissions, specifically per unit of generated and used energy. These limits apply to electricity, thermal energy and more.
The regulations’ main goal is to encourage renewable energy (and the conversion of efficient fuels) to lower levels of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere (aka air pollutants).
For details, check out chapter 6 of the EPA’s Energy and Environment Guide to Action, Policy Considerations for Combined Heat and Power.
Essentially, interconnection standards are processes that rule how utilities treat renewable energy and how that energy connects to the grid.
Standard procedures help by decreasing delays and allaying general confusion about how systems connect to the grid. For example, the standards might dictate how a solar panel system connects to the grid and contributes to the state’s electricity supply.
You’ve probably heard of this one! Net metering is a great resource for home and business owners when they have a solar panel system.
Solar owners can earn compensation for the excess electricity their solar PV system generates. Each state has different net metering rules, particularly in terms of tracking how much solar power customers use on-site or send to the grid.
On that note, if a solar PV system doesn’t generate enough energy to meet a property’s power needs, then an electric customer sources energy from the grid. Then, they can use any accumulated solar credits (from net metering) to purchase energy from the grid.
These tariffs ultimately encourage utilities to develop renewable energy. How so? Feed-in tariffs require electric utilities to pay for renewable energy at rates above market. And that energy is sent to the grid.
Tariffs give those who generate renewable energy a steady income based on their clean power project. Furthermore, the tariffs vary per the energy resource.
Would you like more info? Find details in An Analysis of Renewable Energy Feed–In Tariffs in the United States from the State Clean Energy Policies Analysis (SCEPA) Project.
Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE)
Finally, PACE is primarily an option for financing home solar installations.
PACE also encourages homeowners to invest in solar power installations and renewable energy improvements by making it easier to repay costs.
If you want to learn more, here’s a list of states (and governments) that offer PACE programs.
How the IRA Benefits Solar Owners
President Joe Biden passed the IRA on Aug. 16, 2022.
The act includes a new and improved set of tax incentives for clean energy projects. One improvement was for the solar ITC, particularly its expansion and extension.
The solar ITC is now 30%. It extends through Dec. 31, 2025, for solar, wind, geothermal and other clean energy projects that begin construction and installation before that date.
Additionally, the IRA includes benefits for electric vehicle (EV) ownership. If you own an EV, you can charge it through a solar-powered charging station. Or if you’re in the market to purchase an EV, you can benefit from a $6,000 tax credit when the EV’s American-made.
Not bad, right?
Contact Freedom To Harness Solar Power
If you’re ready to seize the power of the sun, contact solar power installers Freedom Solar.
Call us at (800) 504-2337 or complete our inquiry form to speak with an energy consultant.
Featured image via Unsplash