Florida's solar energy system tax incentives

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So, preparing for the tour Jamie and her team ran into a problem. There aren’t very many solar units installed in our area. Heck, there aren’t even a lot of licensed solar contractors registered in Hillsborough County. For a state where we bill ourselves as the "Sunshine State", we sure as hell aren’t taking advantage of the best free source of renewable energy there is. 

I will share some info to help you consider catching some rays of your own. The website, DSIRE.org, is a collection of rebates, tax credits and info for every state in the nation. So maybe after looking over what’s available, someone out there will take advantage of some of these programs. There’s a lot of info, so check out each post to find the one you can use, or maybe more than one. Rebates are offered for many different energy saving strategies. So for starters, check these out:

Florida's Solar Energy System Incentives:

The Program was established in June 2006 (SB 888) to provide financial incentives for the purchase and installation of solar energy systems from July 1, 2006, through June 20, 2010. $5 million is available for FY 2008-09.

The program, administered by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), provides rebates to Florida residents, businesses, non-profits and public facilities that purchase and install new photovoltaic (PV) systems two kilowatts (kW) or larger in capacity, solar water heating systems that provide at least 50% of a building's hot water consumption, and a solar thermal pool heaters.

The incentive amounts for each solar technology are as follows:

Solar PV Systems

• Residential: $4/watt DC, up to $20,000

• Commercial, Non-profit, Multi-Family and Public Facilities: $4/watt DC, up to $100,000

Solar Water Heating Systems

• Residential: $500 per installation

• Commercial, Non-profit, Multi-Family and Public Facilities: $15 per 1,000 BTU per day, up to $5,000 (BTUs must be metered)

Solar Thermal Pool Heaters

• $100 per installation

Applications for the rebate must be submitted within 120 days of the purchase of the solar energy equipment.

Note: There is currently a waiting list for rebates from the Solar Energy Incentives Program. This program has received $5 million in federal funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). This funding will be used to award rebates to some of the systems that are on the waiting list. The state has applied for an additional $9.4 million in federal funding for this rebate program. Systems applying for the rebate at the present time will be placed on the waiting list. If additional federal funded is received, the approved applications will be awarded rebates based on the order in which they were received. FY 2009-2010 is the last year of the solar rebate program and the last year the program could be funded under current authorizing statute.

Sales Tax Exemption:

Solar energy systems have been exempt from Florida's sales and use tax since July 1, 1997. The term "solar energy system" means the equipment and requisite hardware that provide and are used for collecting, transferring, converting, storing or using incidental solar energy for water heating, space heating and cooling, or other applications that would otherwise require the use of a conventional source of energy such as petroleum products, natural gas, manufactured gas or electricity. Vendors of solar energy systems or components are required to document exempt sales.

This exemption was originally set to expire July 1, 2002, but was extended an additional three years. In May 2005, the exemption was made permanent when HB 805 (2005) was signed into law. The Florida Solar Energy Center certifies to the Department of Revenue a list of eligible equipment and hardware. The list is provided here.

Sellers of solar energy systems or components thereof are required to document exempt sales. The Department of Revenue recommends that a form be completed by the purchaser and presented to the seller. This form may be accessed here.

For information on the Solar Tour:

Contact Jamie Trahan, USF Clean Energy Research Center 813-390-7546 or at [email protected] or  Lisa Montelione at 813-695-5030, [email protected]

A great opportunity crossed my path when Jamie Trahan from the USF Clean Energy Research Center called. As a local green builder, she thought I could help her search for homes to feature on the 14th annual ASES National Solar Tour being held across the country on October 3rd.

Sadly, I informed her although I researched installing solar on our super energy efficient homes, I couldn’t find a way to make it work. Our mission is to build sustainable and affordable. We went with a gas fired tankless hot water system. Yes, it is natural gas, not a renewable, but still better than a traditional water heater sapping electricity around the clock. I know everyone can relate to waiting for water to come from the tank to your shower and up to a comfortable temp, wasting gallons upon gallons of water in our already deprived region. Tankless saves money and almost more importantly, water. Would I have preferred solar? Damn straight I would, future homeowners of our Ec0-Craftsman would have benefited from a zero energy home, but solar is caught in a conundrum of sorts. There’s not the demand to spur mass production, which leads to lower costs while at the same time, there isn’t the mass production leading to lower cost which would spur demand.

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