We’ve all heard the buzz around “free solar” and enticing government-funded solar systems, especially in Oregon. Advertisements and promises have piqued the interest of many homeowners, but what is the reality behind these claims? As a leading solar contractor, Power Northwest, based in Portland, Oregon, we’re here to shed light on the true nature of solar energy costs in our state.
The Real Cost of Solar
It’s not free, but it’s a great investment.
The concept of “free solar” primarily stems from various incentives and subsidies designed to lower the upfront costs of solar panel installation. Which, when financed and paired with the monthly savings you’ll see can provide positive cash flows.
For example, if your solar system costs $30,000 and after incentives is only $20,000. Then you finance that over 15 years. Your monthly payment could be less than what you’re saving on your electric bill! To understand this better, let’s look at the incentives available.
Incentives and Rebates
1. Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC)
This is a significant incentive for solar panel installation. It allows you to deduct a percentage of the cost of installing a solar energy system from your federal taxes. The specific percentage can vary, so it’s essential to check the current rate.
2. Oregon Solar + Storage Rebate Program
This state-specific program offers rebates for solar electric systems and paired solar and storage systems for both residential and low-income service providers. The rebate can cover a substantial portion of the installation cost.
3. Net Metering
Net metering in Oregon allows solar system owners to get credit for the excess electricity their system generates and feeds back into the grid. This can result in lower electricity bills, adding to the cost-saving benefits of solar power.
4. Local Incentives
Some local utilities and governments in Oregon offer additional incentives, rebates, or grants for solar panel installations. These can vary based on your location within the state.
Despite these incentives, the reality is that there’s an upfront investment involved in going solar. The cost of a solar energy system can vary widely based on factors like your home’s energy needs, the system’s size, and the equipment’s quality.
However, it’s important to view this cost as an investment in your home and the environment. Solar panels not only reduce your electricity bills by generating free power from the sun, but they also increase your property value and decrease your carbon footprint.
Cost of Solar in Oregon
Using the above figures, a typical solar system cost is around $30,000. Thanks to the above federal, state, and local incentives, the actual out-of-pocket expense comes down to approximately $20,000. Furthermore, most homeowners opt to finance their systems over 15 years with zero down payment, resulting in low monthly payments. These monthly payments are reduced even further by the energy savings that you see on your monthly utility bill.
The payback period for a solar energy system in Oregon can vary but often falls within the range of 5 to 10 years, depending on the size of your system, available incentives, and your electricity usage. After this initial period, the electricity your solar panels generate is essentially free, contributing to significant savings over the life of your system, which can be 25 years or more.
By not drawing power from the grid, the cost of the solar system is quickly offset. Over the lifespan of the system, homeowners can anticipate saving an additional $50,000 in power costs. This scenario illustrates a nearly risk-free investment where you invest $30,000, gain returns of $80,000, and net a profit of $50,000.
In conclusion, while the notion of “free solar” isn’t entirely accurate, the combination of federal, state, and local incentives, plus the ability to finance the system over time, can make solar a financially viable and environmentally responsible choice for many homeowners.
As a trusted solar contractor, Power Northwest is committed to helping our clients navigate these options, ensuring they receive the best possible value from their solar investment. If you’re considering solar energy for your home, we encourage you to reach out for a personalized consultation to explore how solar can benefit you.