A 30% federal tax credit is available to eligible solar energy (including solar water heating and solar PV systems) and other renewable energy systems placed into service before December 31, 2016. Visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency, www.dsireusa.org , for detailed information.
The Hawaii state tax credit for PV system installations is 35%, up to $5,000 per system, on a single family residential property. Solar water heater installations on single family homes also qualify for a 35% tax credit, up to $2,250. Both non-refundable and refundable options are available. Visit the Hawaii Department of Taxation site, www.hawaii.gov/tax , to download the N-342 form and instructions to see if you qualify for a state renewable energy tax credit.
Hawaii Energy currently offers a $1,000 rebate on solar water heater systems. Visit www.hawaiienergy.com for the latest information.
Consider Financing Options
Talk to your financial institutions about financing options. Many solar companies will help customers find financing options, as well. Common financing options include:
Many banks in Hawaii, as well as contractors, have programs that can help you finance your solar system, either a solar water heating system or a solar electric (PV) system. Finance-to-own agreements typically come in the form of equity-based loans or unsecured loans. Equity-based loans may take longer to obtain approval but allow the homeowner a larger amount of potential financing. Equity-based loans offer amounts up to the amount of equity available on the property. Unsecured loans are typically based on the credit rating of the homeowner. Unsecured loans usually have lower loan availabilities (up to $50,000), but offer the homeowner great terms such as 0% interest and $0 payments for a specified period. The system cost usually determines which financing option would best suit a homeowner’s situation.
Leasing is a another way to finance a solar PV system for homeowners or businesses looking for a low-cost solution to their electric bills. Leasing arrangements are often confused with Power Purchase Agreements (PPA), but there are many differences between the two. Leased PV systems can be sized to fully offset a homeowner's current electric bill and generally have generation guarantees. If the system does not perform as specified, the lessor will cover the agreed upon costs. In general, lease agreements tend to have agreed upon monthly payments. The homeowner is still required to pay the utility any interconnection fee and for any energy used that is not generated by the leased PV system. Depending on the actual lease agreement terms, appropriate sizing of the PV system may be important so that the lessee does not end up paying for more electricity than their actual electricity load.
Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) are where the PV system is owned by a financing party such as a PV development company, and the homeowner signs a contract with the PV financier to buy the PV electricity at an agreed-upon price per kilowatt-hour. Often the price may escalate after a set number of years. PPAs may be an attractive option for homeowners who don’t have the cash to buy the PV system themselves and who don’t want to worry about ongoing maintenance of the PV system, since this is the responsibility of the PV financier. The homeowner pays for all of the electricity that is produced by the PV system. As such, it is important that the PV system not be sized greater than needed to meet the customer’s needs.
Talk to your accountant to understand which option provides the best financial benefit for you.
Hawaiian Electric Programs:
Hawaiian Electric provides many different programs that allow you to produce power for your own use or to sell back to the utility. This includes systems such as solar (photovoltaic), wind, biomass, hydro, fuel-cell or synthetic natural gas. For more information, visit Generating Your Own Power or go to:
Net Energy Metering (NEM): If you decide to install PV, Hawaiian Electric’s Net Energy Metering program allows you to get credit for the excess electricity you generate to offset the cost of electricity purchased from the utility during a 12 month period. Your PV contractor should be able to help you obtain a NEM agreement. To learn more about the NEM requirements, visit nem.heco.com or call the Net Energy Metering hotline at 543-4760. NEM application processes for Hawaii Electric Light Company and Maui Electric may differ. For information on NEM for MECO, visit www.mauielectric.com ; and for Hawaii Electric Light Company, visit www.helcohi.com.
Feed-In Tariff (FIT): The Feed-In Tariff program offers pre-established rates and standardized contract terms to provide an easy way for individuals, small businesses, government entities, or others to sell renewable energy to their utility. For details, visit www.heco.com/fit.
Standard Interconnection Agreement (SIA): SIA is for renewable and non-renewable systems. This agreement allows you to reduce the amount of energy you require from the utility by energy produced from your system. Any surplus exported to the grid will not be “stored” or credited on your bill. For details, email us at email@example.com.