Energy

Florida’s State Rebate Program Makes Renewable Energy Affordable

Many people have good intentions when it comes to our environment. The problem is while renewable energy is the future of our energy consumption; the initial costs associated with installing these systems make sustainable energy out of reach for most. The federal government and many state governments are striving to change this; along with federal tax credits many states, such as Florida, are offering rebate incentives.

On average, a US home consumes about 730 KWH per month. The cost of a solar panel, with installation and wiring taken into account, is about nine dollars per watt. That means the average home could be energized completely by the sun for about $35,000-$72,000. While this may seem steep, many homeowners opt to set up solar systems for half of their energy usage, which cuts the initial costs. About $18,000 for a solar system supplying half of the home’s energy is a reasonable budget.

These costs are what scare many homeowners away from making the upgrade to sustainable energy. The country’s current addiction to fossil fuels and the degradation of our environment is a dire situation that needs to be swiftly addressed. Because of these concerns the government is finally interceding and offering residents some relief from these costs.

Florida is a great example of a state using a rebate incentive program to coax homeowners into making the switch to renewable energy. The state rebate program applies to solar water heaters, solar panels (photovoltaics), and solar pool heating. Residential, commercial, schools, non-profit organizations, multi-family dwellings, and government buildings are all eligible for the rebates.

The incentive amounts vary depending on which system the rebate is applied for. Photovoltaics are good for a rebate of four dollars per watt installed with a maximum of $20,000 for residential systems and $100,000 for non-residential. For solar water heaters used in a residential setting the rebate is five hundred dollars and non-residential solar water heaters are eligible for fifteen dollars per BTU a day with a limit of $5,000. For solar pool heaters the rebate is a set one hundred dollars.

In order for Floridians to receive these rebates the systems must meet certain requirements. The solar panel systems must be a minimum of two kW. The equipment must be approved by the Florida Solar Energy Center and must be installed by a licensed master electrician or state licensed contractor (general or solar electrical).

The solar water heaters must provide at least fifty percent of the hot water consumption for the building. The equipment must also be approved by the Florida Solar Energy Center and must be installed by a licensed solar or plumbing contractor (or general contractor.) Pool heaters must meet the same installation requirements.

The Florida rebate incentive program is administered by Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection and ends June 20th, 2010. The funds for the rebate program were exhausted in the fiscal years 2007-2008 and 2008-2009, but the state is still accepting applications for rebates because funding for 2009-2010 may be appropriated. The remaining rebates will be paid in the order they were received until those funds are too exhausted. All applications for rebates must be submitted within one hundred and twenty days of purchase.

The savings for Florida homeowners don’t end with the rebate program. Federal tax credits will be given to any US residential homeowner for up to 30% of the costs associated with installing any solar power system, solar water heaters, wind turbines, fuel cells, geothermal heat pumps, or other solar technology. The cost can include cost of installation, equipment, and wiring or piping needed to integrate the system/s. The federal program does not include pool heaters though and is strictly residential.

The federal tax credit also has several guidelines that must be followed and can be found on various websites including DSIREUSA.org -a website listing all state and federal renewable energy incentive programs. The federal tax credit program is slated to end December 31st, 2016.

For even further savings many local utility companies will also offer incentives, subsidizing up to 50% for the cost of the system. If the power company allows net metering (which is required in some states) then excess energy generated by the system can be sold back into the power grid, yielding even more savings on the system.

With all the incentives offered by the government now is the perfect time to make the upgrade to clean energy. These programs will not be in place forever, and homeowners will miss their window of opportunity. Florida homeowners have more than three hundred days of sun per year, making most homes perfect candidates for solar energy. Acting now to make an investment will provide the best return, along with the enormous benefits for the environment and the economy.

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