I finally did it. I put a down payment on a solar system at the end of 2018. It was not easy finding a company that would come work on a house in Live Oak. I had previously tried a company in Jacksonville, but they never followed up after the initial consultation. I tried a company in Tallahassee, but they decided that there were enough homes in and around Tallahassee for them to work on. I finally went with Power Production Management, from Gainesville, and they finished installing my solar panels, rewiring my house, and installing my battery about a week ago.
If you are wondering why it took more than 6 months to get the system installed after I put the down payment on it, it is because the solar tax credit will be reduced after 2019 and everyone who was thinking about going solar is finally doing it. There has been a tremendous backlog of the components necessary for home solar systems. Currently, the tax credit lets you claim 30 percent of the installation costs regardless of how much the system costs. To qualify for the 30 percent federal tax credit, you must own the home where the solar system is placed, you must own the solar panels, and your system has to be installed by Dec. 31, 2019.
The law that brought this renewable energy incentive to the United States is the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The act was originally set to expire in 2007, but Congress has continued to extend the expiration date because of the jobs it creates and the renewable energy it provides. If Congress does not extend the deadline again, the following timeline will apply. In 2020, you can claim a 26 percent deduction for your renewable energy system. In 2021, you can claim a 22 percent deduction. In 2022, you can claim a 10 percent deduction, and in 2023, you will not be able to deduct any of the cost of your new system. I think it would be terrible if this program is not extended or expanded. Everyone benefits when we use less fossil fuels and the power grid is more resilient.
You are eligible for a tax credit on more than just the cost of the solar panels and the back-up battery. You may also include any freight costs, installation fees, electrical work associated with the system, any other materials needed to tie the system to your home and the grid, and any permitting fees. If you install the system yourself, you may still deduct the equipment costs, and permitting, but not the installation. When you are filing your taxes you will need to fill out IRS form 5965, and add the credit to form 1040. Please check with a tax professional to be sure everything is in order.
So what are you waiting for? Imagine not having to worry if the power goes out due to a storm or your neighbor getting a little too ambitious with his chainsaw. The sun will be out tomorrow. Why not benefit from it?
Eric lives in Suwannee County and is a public school educator. He is an independent contractor. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.