Before calculating the cost of electricity from an RE system, be sure to subtract financial incentives from state and local governments, as well as local utilities. In Wisconsin, for example, more than 30 utilities participate in a statewide program called Focus on Energy, which rebates customers 25% of a PV system’s cost, with a maximum rebate of $35,000. Similar programs are available in several states—visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency at www.dsireusa.org to see what’s available nationally and in your area.
For systems under 10 kW, the federal government offers a 30% tax credit to homeowners and businesses with no cap. The feds also permit businesses to depreciate solar-electric systems on an accelerated schedule, which means this investment can be recouped more quickly.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture also offers grants to subsidize the cost of renewable energy systems on farms and rural businesses in areas with populations less than 50,000. Grants cover 25% of the cost of the system, including installation. Their minimum grant is $2,500 (for a $10,000 system) and their maximum is $500,000. To learn more about the USDA grant program, visit www.rurdev.usda.gov.