estled in the heart of the northeast, Vermont, also known as the Green Mountain State, offers a unique blend of natural beauty, vibrant communities, and an ever-evolving energy landscape. While Vermont might not be the first state to come to mind when thinking of solar power, there’s a surprising potential and economic incentive for homeowners to tap into the sun's energy.
Is Going Solar in Vermont Really Viable?
One might ponder the logic behind going solar in a state that, admittedly, doesn't bask in abundant sunlight. With an average of only 3.4-3.8 peak sun hours, Vermont lags behind the national average for sunlight.
However, there's an interesting twist to consider. Despite its relatively cloudy climate, choosing solar in Vermont not only makes sense but also proves to be a financially viable decision. The reason? VT homeowners grapple with steep electricity rates. By May 2023, the average electricity rate stood at 21.03 cents per kWh. This figure was not only a 2.6% spike from the previous year but also over 30% more than the average American was paying.
Nevertheless, there's a positive aspect to this situation as Vermont is increasingly recognizing the benefits of solar power. Evidence to this is the impressive statistic from SEIA that solar power is the source of over 19% of the state's electricity.
Unpacking the Costs of Solar in Vermont
Sure, the prospect of harnessing the sun’s power sounds wonderful, but what's the damage to your wallet? EnergySage estimates that a typical solar panel installation in Vermont would set homeowners back anywhere between $14,280 and $19,320. Breaking it down further, the cost per watt ranges from $2.86 to $3.86, with the final figures being influenced by several factors including installation complexity and panel type.
But here's the silver lining: solar isn't just about upfront costs. It's an investment, and like any good investment, it pays off over time. Here's where the term "solar payback period" enters the scene. This refers to the time it takes for homeowners to recover their initial outlay through savings on their electricity bills. For solar in Vermont, this period averages around 9.7 years. Beyond this period, it's all about reaping the fruits of free, sun-powered electricity.
VT Incentives for Solar Adoption
To sweeten the deal for residents considering solar in Vermont, there's a diverse range of incentives and savings options awaiting them. Let's explore the most noteworthy ones.
First up, the Federal Solar Tax Credit (ITC). This incentive allows Green Mountain State residents to knock off a staggering 30% of their solar installation costs, directly applied to their tax returns. This translates to an average tax credit of $5,000.
Vermont further cushions homeowners against high solar costs with the Renewable Energy System Property Tax Exemption. Essentially, once you enhance your property's value by installing solar in Vermont, the state ensures you're not burdened with added property taxes for this value addition.
Then there's the Home Solar System Sales Tax Exemption. Whether you're a homeowner or run a business, if you're buying solar panels, Vermont generously waives the 6% state sales tax, trimming down your installation costs.
But what about the energy you produce and don't use? This is where VT solar net metering comes into the picture. The state has outlined rules to ensure that solar consumers receive compensation from public utilities for the surplus energy they contribute to the grid. For each kilowatt-hour of solar energy that you don't consume and instead return to the grid, you earn credits in your electric bills.
Lastly, for those under the Green Mountain Power (GMP) umbrella, there's more good news. While GMP might not provide direct incentives for solar installations, its Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program is a game-changer. Enrolling in this program can get GMP customers a rebate of up to $10,500 for new home batteries.
Parting Thoughts on Solar in Vermont
In essence, Vermont's unique positioning in the energy landscape, both geographically and economically, makes solar energy an enticing proposition for homeowners. Despite the initial hurdles of cost and sunlight, the long-term benefits and incentives undeniably tilt the balance in favor of embracing solar in Vermont.