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Taxes & Incentives 

The U.S. has a long history of supporting energy infrastructure through the U.S. tax code. The market certainty provided by a long-term investment tax credit (ITC) for solar energy has supported private investment in manufacturing and project construction, a vital part in meeting our nation's energy policy goals, driving cost-cutting innovation and job growth.

 


National 

Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC)

The ITC reduces tax liability for individuals or businesses that purchase qualifying solar energy technologies, encouraging investment and spurring growth in solar energy.

1603 Treasury Program

The 1603 Treasury Program allows developers to take a federal grant in lieu of the ITC, allowing taxpayers to maximize the return and value of existing energy tax incentives.

Depreciation of Solar Energy Property

Similar to many other sectors of the economy, the U.S. Tax Code allows businesses investing in qualifying solar energy property to recover certain capital costs through income tax deductions.

DOE Loan Guarantee Program

The Department of Energy Loan Guarantee Program (LGP) supports financing of renewable projects and manufacturing facilities, helping to deploy clean energy technologies across the U.S.


California

California Property Tax Exemption

Many new residential solar PV systems qualify California homeowners for a property tax exemption up to the full amount of the system’s cost.

California Solar Inititive (CSI)

The California Solar Initiative provides cash back to customers of California’s three investor-owned utilities (Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric). If you currently get your electricity from one of them and your property receives continuous sunlight from 11am – 6pm, you qualify for rebate money through the CSI.

 

Low-income (SASH and MASH) and new construction (NSHP) rebates are also handled by the CSI, making it a convenient, centralized program many Californians can find most of their available rebates in.

LADWP Solar Incentive Program

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) offers an up-front, lump sum incentive payment based on your solar electric system’s expected production. The payment calculation is based on a number of factors, but it is in effect both an up-front and performance-based rebate rolled into one (and delivered up-front), which makes going solar that much easier for LADWP customers.

LADWP Feed-in Tariff

The LADWP also offers a feed-it tariff rebate structure for systems between 30kW and 3MW. Incentive payment rates begin at $0.17/kWh produced and decline as more systems utilizing the tariff come online. LADWP customers may choose the Solar Incentive Program or the Feed-in Tariff, but not both.

SMUD Residential Solar Loan Program

The Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) is providing loans up to $30,000 for the purchase of a solar water heating system. The loan is at 8.57% and must be repaid in 10 years.

SMUD Residential PV Retrofit Buy-Down

The Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) offers grid-tied system owners a $0.25/AC Watt incentive. Since AC Watts are used to calculate the incentive, its amount is based on expected system performance.

Other California Municipal Programs

Marin County Solar Rebate Program

Residents of unincorporated Marin County and Marin County employees can get a $500 rebate for solar PV systems.

San Francisco Solar Energy Incentive Program

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission is offering homeowners who install solar PV systems 1 kW or larger a cash incentive. The incentive is $2,000 – $2,750 in most cases, but lower-income homes can qualify for up to $10,000.


California Property Tax Exemption

California Law provides a property tax exemption for qualified solar energy systems.

California Revenue and Taxation Code, section 73.

73.  (a) Pursuant to the authority granted to the Legislature pursuant to paragraph (1) of subdivision (c) of Section 2 of Article XIII A of the California Constitution, the term “newly constructed,” as used in subdivision (a) of Section 2 of Article XIIIA of the California Constitution, does not include the construction or addition of any active solar energy system, as defined in subdivision (b).
   (b) (1) “Active solar energy system” means a system that uses solar devices, which are thermally isolated from living space or any other area where the energy is used, to provide for the collection, storage, or distribution of solar energy.
   (2) “Active solar energy system” does not include solar swimming pool heaters or hot tub heaters.
   (3) Active solar energy systems may be used for any of the following:
   (A) Domestic, recreational, therapeutic, or service water heating.
   (B) Space conditioning.
   (C) Production of electricity.
   (D) Process heat.
   (E) Solar mechanical energy.
   (c) For purposes of this section, “occupy or use” has the same meaning as defined in Section 75.12.
   (d) (1) (A) The Legislature finds and declares that the definition of spare parts in this paragraph is declarative of the intent of the Legislature, in prior statutory enactments of this section that
excluded active solar energy systems from the term “newly constructed,” as used in the California Constitution, thereby creating a tax appraisal exclusion.
   (B) An active solar energy system that uses solar energy in the production of electricity includes storage devices, power conditioning equipment, transfer equipment, and parts related to the functioning of those items. In general, the use of solar energy in the production of electricity involves the transformation of sunlight into electricity through the use of devices such as solar cells or other solar collecting equipment. However, an active solar energy
system used in the production of electricity includes only equipment used up to, but not including, the stage of conveyance or use of the electricity. For the purpose of this paragraph, the term “parts” includes spare parts that are owned by the owner of, or the maintenance contractor for, an active solar energy system that uses solar energy in the production of electricity and which spare parts were specifically purchased, designed, or fabricated by or for that owner or maintenance contractor for installation in an active solar energy system that uses solar energy in the production of electricity, thereby including those parts in the tax appraisal
exclusion created by this section.
   (2) An active solar energy system that uses solar energy in the production of electricity also includes pipes and ducts that are used exclusively to carry energy derived from solar energy. Pipes and ducts that are used to carry both energy derived from solar energy and from energy derived from other sources are active solar energy system property only to the extent of 75 percent of their full cash value.
   (3) An active solar energy system that uses solar energy in the production of electricity does not include auxiliary equipment, such as furnaces and hot water heaters, that use a source of power other than solar energy to provide usable energy. An active solar energy system that uses solar energy in the production of electricity does include equipment, such as ducts and hot water tanks, that is utilized by both auxiliary equipment and solar energy equipment, that is, dual use equipment. That equipment is active solar energy system property only to the extent of 75 percent of its full cash value.
   (e) (1) Notwithstanding any other law, for purposes of this section, “the construction or addition of any active solar energy system” includes the construction of an active solar energy system incorporated by the owner-builder in the initial construction of a new building that the owner-builder does not intend to occupy or use. The exclusion from “newly constructed” provided by this subdivision applies to the initial purchaser who purchased the new building from the owner-builder, but only if the owner-builder did not receive an exclusion under this section for the same active solar energy system and only if the initial purchaser purchased the new building prior to that building becoming subject to reassessment to the owner-builder,
as described in subdivision (d) of Section 75.12. The assessor shall administer this subdivision in the following manner:
   (A) The initial purchaser of the building shall file a claim with the assessor and provide to the assessor any documents necessary to identify the value attributable to the active solar energy system included in the purchase price of the new building. The claim shall also identify the amount of any rebate for the active solar energy system provided to either the owner-builder or the initial purchaser by the Public Utilities Commission, the State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission, an electrical corporation, a local publicly owned electric utility, or any other agency of the State of California.
   (B) The assessor shall evaluate the claim and determine the
portion of the purchase price that is attributable to the active solar energy system. The assessor shall then reduce the new base year value established as a result of the change in ownership of the new building by an amount equal to the difference between the following two amounts:
   (i) That portion of the value of the new building attributable to the active solar energy system.
   (ii) The total amount of all rebates, if any, described in subparagraph (A) that were provided to either the owner-builder or the initial purchaser.
   (C) The extension of the new construction exclusion to the initial purchaser of a newly constructed new building shall remain in effect only until there is a subsequent change in ownership of the new building.
   (2) The State Board of Equalization, in consultation with the California Assessors’ Association, shall prescribe the manner, documentation, and form for claiming the new construction exclusion required by this subdivision.
   (f) This section applies to property tax lien dates for the 1999 -2000 fiscal year to the 2015-16 fiscal year, inclusive.
   (g) The amendments made to this section by the act that added this subdivision apply beginning with the lien date for the 2008-09 fiscal year.
   (h) This section shall remain in effect only until January 1, 2017, and as of that date is repealed.