M

ichigan might be known for its cool temperatures and gray skies, but don't let the state's cloudy reputation fool you: the sun shines more than enough to make solar energy a viable and profitable choice for Michiganders. Beneath the supposed gloom lies a bright opportunity for those interested in making the switch. You might be wondering: is photovoltaic (PV) power truly a feasible option in the Great Lake State? Can you really recoup your initial investment and even make a profit from it?

The answer is a resounding yes, and we're here to illuminate the path for you. From statewide incentives to federal tax credits, this article will highlight how going solar in Michigan is not only possible but also financially rewarding. So, prepare to bask in the radiant possibilities that solar power offers in the Wolverine State.

Embracing Solar – The Michigan Way

Solar energy adoption in Michigan has been gaining momentum in recent years. Despite not being traditionally associated with PV power, the Wolverine state is proving that even a region renowned for its lakes and forests can harness the sun's energy. As of 2023, it has installed over 1,038 MW of PV energy, and this number continues to rise.

The state’s decision to embrace solar power stems from a combination of environmental, economic, and social factors. In terms of environmental preservation, the sun’s energy is a clean and renewable source that reduces reliance on fossil fuels and lowers greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, the state's commitment to achieving 60% renewable energy by 2030 has created a favorable regulatory environment for solar power expansion.

From an economic standpoint, the declining cost of PV panels (with costs having fallen 54% over the past decade) and federal tax credit have made photovoltaics increasingly appealing to Michiganders. This trend, coupled with the state's net metering policy, enables homeowners to sell excess energy back to the grid, enhancing the financial viability of PV installations.

A societal shift is also underway as communities increasingly recognize the long-term advantages of renewable energy. Educational initiatives, community PV projects, and greater awareness of climate change and its consequences have all contributed to this change in sentiment. As a result, homeowners in Michigan are inspired to partake in the state's solar journey and transform their rooftops into sustainable power generators.

Solar Panels: An Eco-friendly Revolution

PV panels are playing a crucial role in driving the eco-friendly movement in Michigan. As people become more aware of the environment and their role in its preservation, photovoltaics emerges as a concrete solution to make a positive impact. Installing a photovoltaic system becomes a direct investment in clean energy, reducing one's carbon footprint and contributing to a sustainable future.

Here's how it works: A solar panel system harnesses the power of sunlight, transforming it into electricity. Each panel contains photovoltaic cells made of silicon. When sunlight hits these cells, it sets the electrons in motion, generating an electric current. This direct current (DC) is then converted into alternating current (AC) by an inverter, which can power a home or even be sold back to the grid through a net metering program.

Now, let's talk about the impressive ecological advantages of solar panels. Installing each kilowatt significantly reduces your home's carbon footprint by over 3,000 pounds every year. Imagine, for an average 5-kilowatt residential system, that's a jaw-dropping reduction of more than 15,000 pounds of CO2 emissions annually! While it might not be possible to eliminate all greenhouse gas emissions from your home, solar power plays a massive role in shrinking that impact. So not only do PV panels offer an exceptional way to generate renewable energy, but they also wield immense power in combatting climate change.

Moreover, photovoltaic panels are continually improving in efficiency. Modern panels can convert over 20% of the sunlight they capture into electricity, an increase from 15% just a decade ago. As technology advances further, it is expected that this efficiency will continue to rise, enabling homeowners to generate more electricity from the same amount of sunlight.

Why Solar Makes Sense in Michigan

Solar power in the Great Lakes State offers more than just environmental benefits. Let's explore why it is not only practical but advantageous in the state:

Financial Savings: Despite receiving an average of 4 hours of peak sunlight per day, which may seem relatively low compared to sunnier states, Michigan has sufficient sunlight to generate significant electricity. Residents who choose PV panels can anticipate a significant reduction in their monthly electricity bills, resulting in substantial long-term savings. Moreover, the cost of solar panel installation has decreased significantly over time, making it a financially viable option for many homeowners.

Incentives and Tax Credit: The state government, in collaboration with utility companies, provides a range of incentives, rebates, and credits to support residents in transitioning to solar power.

Energy Independence: By investing in solar energy, Michiganders can reduce their reliance on the grid and utility companies. This is particularly advantageous during power outages, as solar energy provides a dependable and consistent source of power when it is most needed.

Job Creation: The increasing popularity of solar energy has led to a surge in PV-related job opportunities. The photovoltaics industry in Michigan is experiencing rapid growth, resulting in the creation of numerous jobs and contributing to the local economy.

Community Solar Programs: The state offers community programs for those who are unable to install PV panels on their own property. These programs enable multiple individuals to invest in and benefit from a single project, making clean power accessible to a broader audience.

An Overview of Solar Incentives

In this section, we will delve into the incentives available for those interested in harnessing the sun’s power in The Great Lakes State. From tax credits to utility rebates, we'll explore the various avenues that can make your transition to clean energy both financially rewarding and environmentally impactful.

Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC)

Naturally, the first point to mention is The Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC), which grants a tax credit to individuals or companies that invest in photovoltaics. The ITC was established in 2006 and has played a crucial role in supporting the expansion of solar energy in the United States. The ITC directly reduces the taxpayer's income tax liability, matching the amount of the credit. This credit can be claimed on federal income taxes for a portion of the expenses incurred for a photovoltaic system.

Initially, the tax credit was planned to decrease to 22% in 2023. However, due to the recent enactment of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, the credit will still be available at a rate of 30%. It will then decrease to 26% for systems installed in 2033 and 22% for systems installed in 2034. Unless renewed by Congress, the tax credit will expire starting in 2035. Consequently, those who install a PV system between 2022 and 2032 will be eligible for a 30% tax credit.

To be eligible for the credit, the PV system must be installed on residential or commercial property in the United States and meet specific performance and safety standards.

The tax credit carries economic benefits as it stimulates the economy, provides more capital for investment, and generates job opportunities. Since the implementation of the credit in 2006, the industry has grown by over 200 times, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and injecting billions of dollars into the U.S. economy in the process.

Michigan Saves Home Energy Loan Program

The Michigan Saves Home Energy Loan Program is a fantastic financing option for homeowners and businesses aiming to enhance their properties' energy efficiency. Through a network of authorized lenders, eligible borrowers can obtain low-interest loans.

To participate in the program, homeowners and businesses must collaborate with an authorized contractor to identify eligible energy improvements and obtain an estimate. Once these improvements are identified, borrowers can conveniently apply for financing online through an authorized lender.

The program provides flexible loan terms, allowing borrowers to choose from a range of options. For every $4,999 borrowed, borrowers can enjoy a one-year term, while loans of $5,000 or more qualify for terms of up to ten years. Moreover, there are no annual or early repayment fees, ensuring a hassle-free experience.

To become an authorized contractor, businesses must meet specific requirements, including minimum insurance coverage and a willingness to actively participate in the program. Michigan Saves also collaborates with lenders both statewide and nationwide to offer borrowers favorable and low-interest financing for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.

Residential Property Tax Exemption

When it comes to installing PV arrays on residential properties, many homeowners may worry about the potential increase in property taxes. PV systems, being tangible improvements, are seen as upgrades and may increase the value of a home. This would traditionally lead to an increase in property taxes due to the higher home value. However, in Michigan, the Residential Property Tax Exemption aims to alleviate this financial burden.

Under this exemption, no extra value from the panels goes into the property's value. Essentially, even though the home's market value may increase due to the solar installation, the property taxes don't rise in tandem.

The estimated savings from this exemption will depend largely on the system size and value. For instance, a larger system may lead to more significant potential tax increases, but these costs are effectively curtailed thanks to the exemption.

Net Metering Program

Net metering is a scheme that enables homeowners with photovoltaic panels to sell any surplus energy they generate back to the grid. In Michigan, net metering was accessible to all utility customers between 2008 and 2018. Nevertheless, the Public Service Commission approved a new distributed generation program as a substitute for net metering. Even with no net metering mandate in Michigan, numerous providers still utilize it and provide reasonable rates.

Local Incentives

Looking beyond the standard advantages of solar adoption in Michigan, the local incentives can significantly sweeten the deal for residents. For example, The Lansing Board of Water & Light (LBWL) offers an appealing energy efficiency rebate program that residents can tap into.

Under this program, customers of LBWL can receive up to $500 in rebates for each kilowatt of photovoltaics installed, with the total amount capping at $2,000. Given that the average PV array size in the area is about 7 kW, a significant proportion of LBWL customers stand to fully maximize this $2,000 rebate. This means more accessible, affordable clean energy for those in the area and an additional compelling reason for residents to transition to this renewable source of power. Government offers free solar panels, a sustainable initiative for renewable energy adoption and environmental stewardship.

Wrap-up: Making Solar Work for You in Michigan

In summary, Michigan is filled with potential for solar power. As we've explored, there are several factors that make it a viable, profitable, and environmentally friendly choice for residents. Favorable incentives at the state and federal level, such as the ITC credit, decreasing costs of PV panels, the societal shift towards renewable energy, and the state's dedication to environmental sustainability, all contribute to making photovoltaics an excellent option for the Great Lake State.

All these elements add to the attractiveness of solar energy as a viable choice, offering significant savings on energy costs, increased energy independence, and community engagement through local programs. Therefore, whether you are driven by financial savings, environmental responsibility, or the desire for energy independence, it is evident that embracing solar energy in Michigan is a fulfilling path to take.

Sources:

https://www.seia.org/state-solar-policy/michigan-solar

https://crcmich.org/sperbeck_michigan_renewable_energy_2030#:~:text=The%20MI%20Healthy%20Climate%20Plan,from%20renewable%20resources%20by%202030

https://aresolar.com/the-benefits-of-going-solar-helping-the-environment-while-saving-you-money/

https://www.turbinegenerator.org/solar/michigan/

Posted 
Jun 15, 2023
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