Solar in Virginia - A Guide to Going Solar in VA

Solar in Virginia - A Guide to Going Solar in VA

There are many reasons to install solar panels in Virginia. Ultimately, getting solar means taking hold of your energy future with a renewable resource that's really yours and looks goodon your home. Thousands of Virginians own solar energy systems at their homes that are connected to the grid. As even more people move to Northern Virginia for Amazon's National Landing, the time has never been better to go solar. 

Now's your best time to reach out to a solar installer in your area. This Guide to Going Solar is a simple How-To with 4 Steps and a list of resources. If you have any questions, we're local and just a phone call or email away. Plus we've put together some more helpful resources for going solar in Virginia and beyond.

Guide to Going Solar:

Step 1: Learn about solar incentives in Virginia

Step 2: Contact a local solar installer near you

Step 3: Choose a way to pay for your solar system (cash, loan etc)

Step 4:  Get it done


Step 1: Learn about solar incentives in Virginia

Going Virginia isn't about making a game out of cobbling together obscure, complicated utility incentives and government handouts.

The good news is that Solar in Virginia makes sense without incentives. But take note of the federal tax credit and a helpful utility program for grid-connected solar known as net energy metering:

  1. Federal Incentives:
    1. There is a Federal Tax Credit of 30%: This means you can deduct 30% of the solar cost of your solar project from your tax liability. This is a federal incentive and applicable to every solar system small or large in the entire country. The tax credit will disappear for residential customers in 2020. Read more on the IRS website about the 30% tax credit.  Owners of new solar energy systems could not claim a tax credit unless their system was operational. Now, the legislation allows you to claim it as soon as the construction of the system is complete, as long as it is operational by December 31, 2023. Overview of the Federal Tax Credit changes over time:
      1. 2018 – 2019: The tax credit remains at 30 percent of the cost of the system. This means that in 2018, you can still get a major discounted price for your solar panel system.
      2. 2020: Owners of new residential and commercial solar can deduct 26 percent of the cost of the system from their taxes.
      3. 2021: Owners of new residential and commercial solar can deduct 22 percent of the cost of the system from their taxes.
      4. 2022 onwards: Owners of new commercial solar energy systems can deduct 10 percent of the cost of the system from their taxes. There is no federal credit for residential solar energy systems.
    2. U.S. Agency Incentives: There are Grants and other opportunities for very specific situations. Reach out to your solar installer for more detailed information to see if you qualify and how to apply for the grants. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has Grants for example.
  2. State Incentives: Virginia doesn't have solar incentives. There is no RPS and no SREC market anymore (Solar Renewable Energy Credits), so one can't get a significant income anymore from the sale of SRECS. An RPS is a law that would make a Renewable Portfolio Standard required for Virginia. This would force the State to have a certain percentage of its power generated by renewable energy. Virginia first passed its voluntary RPS in 2007, but since then, it was forced out of the Pennsylvania SREC market.
  3. County Incentives: Depending on where the solar energy system will be installed, one can have different County level incentives. As every County is different, it will be tedious to list all these incentives. Reach out to your local solar installer for more information. Fairfax County has several incentives for example that are different from Arlington County.
  4. City Incentives: Some Cities have their own incentives unrelated to County incentives.
  5. Utility Incentives: Depending on which utility you will interconnect your solar panels with, you will get access to different incentives and solar programs. Dominion Energy has different solar incentives and programs than Novec. Virginia has multiple smaller utilities and Coops  Some utility companies are very formal in their approach to solar, others are more difficult to navigate and less formal. Reach out to your local solar installer for detailed information about solar programs available to you.

Step 2: Contact a local solar installer near you

Ninan-LG-panels-300x169-1There are many contractors competing for your business. Make sure to select the contractor that you think will do the best job. Search for a solar installer near you. Here is a quick list of pointers:

  1. Licensed and insured to do this type of work. Virginia required a General Contractor license with an AES Specialty (Alternative Energy System). DPOR defines it like this "Alternative energy system contracting" (Abbr: AES) means that service that provides for the installation, repair or improvement, from the customer's meter, of alternative energy generation systems, supplemental energy systems and associated equipment annexed to real property. This service does not include the installation of emergency generators powered by fossil fuels. No other classification or specialty service provides this function. This specialty does not provide for electrical, plumbing, gas fitting, or HVAC functions.
  2. Read reviews of the solar installers you're considering. A solar installer has to be good if many reviews all point towards the same dedication to quality work with attention to detail and a fair price. Read reviews on Yelp, Google, Facebook and other similar websites and platforms.
  3. Ask questions. Every solar installer does things slightly differently. Make sure to ask all your questions to make sure you know what you will get. We have many times people asking us "What else should I ask you" as they don't know what to ask and never bought solar before. If you deal with an honest solar installer, they will point you in the right direction. I often explain our warranty policy, our standard equipment we use (solar panels, inverters, racking, monitoring, etc) and a detailed overview of the financial benefits. Ipsun Power also has their own crew which means that a solar company that has that has full control over the work performed and the scheduling of the work. This is an important aspect of selecting a solar installer for your project.
  4. Financial Benefits. Most people that go solar do this for financial reasons. If we all wanted to save the planet, then we all would have installed solar by now. Make sure to have a clear view of your financial benefits of having solar installed. We know of solar installers asking prices that in the end make solar more expensive than your current power. Today, we can install a solar system so that the $/kWh is lower or comparable with your current electricity rate. Make sure you have a clear view of your total savings over time.
  5. Get a detailed price and contract. We see many competitors having a loose contract with a price that is not set in stone. Many in the solar energy industry provide a fixed price for a solar installation with change orders in case the project changes.
  6. Compare apples to apples: Make sure you compare solar installers for the same type of solar projects.

4-solar-modules-300x225Step 3: Choose a way to pay for your solar system (cash, loan etc)

There are many ways to pay for your solar panels.

The simplest is to write a check to your solar installer. Another option is to ask your solar installer for an introduction to one of their loan providers. Usually, a solar installer has partnerships with several loan providers specializing in solar and roof work.

Another option is to go to a bank yourself and ask for a loan. The cheapest way for you to go solar with a financial institution is through a HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit) as the fees associated with this financing method will always be the lowest.

Step 4:  Get it done

Why wait or delay your solar project? You will consume and pay for power to your utility company every month of your life that you don't act after all!

The price of a solar system has come down a lot, it's so affordable to switch. You'll be getting away from a centralized utility company that you pay every month to produce and transport your power to generate your power yourself with solar panels on your own home.

We've compiled FAQs that go into even more detail about some things you may want to know about solar.

Feel free to reach out to us with any questions you have about going solar:

Ipsun Solar or via phone at (866) 48 IPSUN


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