Florida is the 4th fastest-growing solar state with 11 gigawatts (GW) expected to be installed over the next 5 years. As a leader in solar power usage, Florida ranks third in the nation with nearly 100,000 installations to date. When you’re dubbed the sunshine state, it’s only right to take full advantage of the rays!
Great federal incentives are available for anyone considering a switch to solar power, such as the federal solar investment tax credit, but you can also take advantage of many state-level rebates and exemptions. Keep reading to learn how you can save money in Florida with a solar photovoltaic (PV) system, including panels from Freedom Solar.
Florida Solar Incentives
Property Tax Exemption
When adding solar panels or other special features to your home, you’d typically expect heightened property taxes due to its increased value. Luckily, Florida offers a property tax exemption for solar power system owners.
Florida’s Residential Property Tax Abatement for Renewable Energy Property allows you to go green without paying additional costs when tax day comes around. Your equipment purchase amount is 100% tax-exempt for residential use, and 80% exempt for nonresidential use.
[Related: Do Solar Panels Increase Property Value?]
Sales Tax Exemption
You’ll be happy to learn that Florida doesn’t charge sales tax on solar energy systems, a policy that has been in effect since 1997.
The Solar and CHP Sales Tax Exemption allows businesses and homeowners to save 6% on their solar equipment purchase, but in order for your equipment to qualify for the exemption, it has to be certified by the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC).
Solar panel systems are an investment, but Florida aims to help make your transition to green power as easy and affordable as possible.
[Related: Average Cost of Solar Panels and Installation]
Net metering is a billing mechanism that benefits thousands of households throughout the state. The Florida Public Service Commision (PSC) allows you to send any amount of unused excess energy from your solar power system, or any other renewable energy source, to an electricity grid.
Household utility companies are required to file annual reports with Florida PSC noting the size, type, number of customer-generators, capacity of net-metered energy generation, location of the system, amount of energy “delivered to and generated from interconnected customers,” and the total amount of energy payments made to those customers, according to DSIRE.
So when you’re out of the house during the day or night and electricity isn’t being used, you’ll earn credits as your solar panel system continues to generate energy.
Net Excess Generation
Your utility company’s retail rate, usually a one kilowatt per hour credit, reflects a customer’s net excess generation (NEG) and can be used on utility bills for up to one year. Once the year ends, the utility company will give you credits for any leftover NEG.
Renewable Energy Credit Ownership
Any earned renewable energy credits (RECs) remain the property of whoever owns the solar panel system. Customers have the option to sell an unlimited amount of their RECs back to the utility company.
Net Metering Programs in Florida
Here are the top net metering programs in Florida:
The interconnection process is how your renewable energy system connects to and transfers output to a grid. The Florida PSC has interconnection guidelines for three tiers of energy systems.
The maximum approved energy interconnection for investor-owned utilities is two megawatts. Municipal utilities and electric cooperatives fall under a different agreement in which customer-owned system output can apply both interconnection and net metering guidelines.
Florida Solar Rebates
City of Lauderhill – Revolving Loan Program
This interest-free revolving loan program offers residential homeowners $400 to $2,500 to pay for EnergyStar appliances, including solar PV systems from qualified retailers. The loan repayment term is two years; applicants will know if they’re eligible within a 10-day period.
If your solar power system or appliances are eligible, funds will be sent directly to your hired contractor and held back at 10%, then released once a completion certificate is signed by both the loan borrower and the system contractor. Any costs above the contractor’s original quote is the borrower’s responsibility.
Additional information about the application can be found on the city’s revolving loan page.
Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC) – Residential Energy Efficiency Rebate Program
OUC offers a rebate program to residential property owners for a variety of energy efficiency improvements. The incentive amount for solar PV system batteries is a maximum of $2,000.
All that’s needed to receive the rebate is a completed application form and proof of your purchase, which can be mailed to Orlando Utilities Customer Connection. The rebate credit will then be applied to your OUC bill.
Lakeland Electric – Residential Energy Efficiency Loan Program
This utility loan program is available for residential property owners looking to make energy efficiency upgrades, including use of solar PV batteries. The loan covers 50% of eligible battery system costs; eligibility is determined by a warranty of at least 10 years or 5,000 cycles and a minimum usable capacity of 6kwh.
The 0% interest loan is limited to $4,000 per customer. A borrower should expect a one-time application filing fee on their utility bill, and once your solar PV project is complete, loans are repaid on a monthly basis.
City of Tallahassee Utilities – Solar Loans
This utility loan program offers customers $500 to $20,000 at 5% interest for their ENERGY STAR roofing or solar PV system, which must be certified by the FSEC. Loans can be repaid on a monthly basis for up to 10 years through your utility bill.
Tallahassee requires an energy audit before you pursue a retailer price or contractor proposal for your PV system. Once the utility company receives the necessary material, you can begin installation.
You can learn more through Tallahassee’s local government website.
City of Tallahassee Utilities – Efficiency Loans
This utility loan program applies to commercial and residential properties that need financial assistance for their solar PV system purchase or ENERGY STAR roofing expenses. The maximum loan amount is $20,000 at 5% interest with a payback term of 10 years.
The loan program includes other eligible energy-efficient technologies unrelated to solar, but the maximum loan is $10,000.
You can learn more about Tallahassee’s efficiency loan and its qualifying technologies here.
Florida Keys Electric Cooperative (FKEC) – Solar Loan Program
This solar loan program focuses on residential and commercial-owned solar PV systems, offering a maximum of $35,000. The interest rate is calculated using an amortization model with a payback term length of 10 years.
This funding helps with the purchase and installation of a customer’s grid-tied Distributed Energy Resource (DER) system, which can include both a PV power system and the battery storage device.
To qualify, FKEC requires a “clean” billing history through them for at least one year for residential borrowers and at least two years for commercial borrowers.
You can find the loan manual and application on FKEC’s solar loan program page.
Solar and Energy Loan Fund (SELF)
SELF, a nonprofit, provides an unsecured renewable energy personal loan to Florida homeowners who meet eligibility requirements. The incentive has a maximum of $50,000 for renewable energy projects specifically, such as solar PV power, and a loan interest rate between 8 to 9.5% APR. The payback loan term ranges between five and 10 years.
To learn more about how to improve your Florida residence with SELF, visit their website.
Miami-Dade County – Green Corridor Property Assessed Clean Energy District
The Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financial incentive applies to commercial and residential properties with a maximum loan that’s 10% of the property value. The payback term length is 20 years.
The board passed Resolution R-734-16 in 2016, expanding PACE to unincorporated county areas. The resolution approved arrangements between Green Corridor and Ygrene Energy Fund Florida, its administrator. Ygrene administers the County’s PACE program.
Miami-Dade County – Expedited Green Buildings Process
This Green Building Incentive is administered by District 8 of Miami County to promote construction of sustainably designed buildings for commercial, residential, and industrial sectors.
In 2005, the commissioner’s office in Miami-Dade County passed an ordinance to speed up the permitting process for buildings to get “green” certified by an environmental rating agency. As long as the project is located in unincorporated Miami-Dade County, or the city west of Miami, they’re eligible for fast track permitting.
Take a look at Miami-Dade County’s building department website for more information.
* Tax credits are subject to change. Consult your tax advisor regarding how incentives and rebates apply to your specific circumstances. Visit the DSIRE’S website for detailed solar policy information. We do not provide legal or tax advice.
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