Reasons for Florida to Go Solar

Mon, Nov 27, 2023 at 2:50PM

Lisa Pate, FRSA Executive Director

Florida is the Sunshine State and it’s not surprising that it’s ranked third for solar potential but only fourteenth in terms of rooftop solar installed. Solar installation is expected to double in the next five years and with an estimated $17.6 billion invested in 2022, does it make sense for roofing companies to consider offering solar options?

While the cost of solar has declined significantly over the last decade, it’s still a sizable investment for home and business owners looking to lower their electric bills. To encourage greater adoption of solar, the federal government, state and local governments and even some utilities offer incentives to install solar roofs to power homes with more affordable and accessible clean energy. These energy savings typically take the form of solar rebates, tax benefits or performance-based incentives and can reduce the cost for solar anywhere from 30 to 50 percent.

Florida’s solar policies have lagged behind other states: it has no renewable portfolio standard and does not allow power purchase agreements, two policies that have driven investments in solar in other states. However, thanks to utility investments in clean energy and other recent developments, significant growth is on the horizon.

Solar Power in Florida

Statewide, Florida averages 230 sunny days per year. But that isn’t the only reason it’s a good place to install solar panels. Additional incentives in Florida can minimize the initial investment. At this point, less than five percent of the state’s energy comes from solar power. That stands to change, however, as utility companies invest more in clean energy and the cost for solar panel installations decrease.

Florida Solar Panel Costs

On average, it costs $13,000 to install a 5kW solar panel system before rebates and incentives. A smaller 3kW system may cost less than $8,000 to install while a large 10kW system could cost upwards of $25,000.

For a 5kW solar panel system, the estimated payback period is a little more than 10 years. That means in one decade, homeowners will have recouped the initial investment in the solar panels and be able to truly pocket the utility bill savings every month.

Why the Investment Tax Credit is the Best Solar Incentive

The federal investment tax credit (ITC) is far and away the best solar incentive, providing 30 percent of a solar project’s cost as a credit towards federal income taxes. Instead of a deduction, which reduces taxable income (as would happen with any charitable donations you make in a year), a tax credit directly offsets what would otherwise be owed in taxes. Instead of just being taxed on a lower income, the federal ITC offsets what is owed in taxes and can even come back to homeowners as a refund from the IRS if they have overpaid taxes during the year. Here are the specifics:

2016 – 2019: The energy tax credit remained at 30 percent of the cost of the system.

2020 – 2021: Owners of new residential and commercial solar earned a credit of 26 percent of the cost of the system on their federal income tax bill.

2022 – 2032: Owners of new residential solar can earn a credit of 30 percent of the cost of the system on their tax bill. Commercial solar systems will also be eligible for 30 percent until 2025, at which point the U.S. Department of Treasury will determine if the ITC continues for commercial systems.

2033: Owners of new residential solar can earn a credit of 26 percent of the installation costs of the system on their tax bill.

2034: Owners of new residential solar can earn a credit of 22 percent of the installation costs of the system on their tax bill.

2035: There is no federal credit for residential solar energy systems starting this year.

Florida Solar Rebates and Tax Credits

There are no statewide solar panel rebates in Florida since there is no state sales tax. However, tax credits can make the installation more affordable.

  • Sales Tax Exemption – Under Florida’s Solar and CHP Sales Tax Exemption, Floridians are exempt from paying the 6 percent sales tax on solar panels.
  • Property Tax Exemption – Normally, when you add value to a home, the property tax bill shoots up. Not so with solar thanks to Florida’s Property Tax Exclusion for Residential Renewable Energy Property.
  • FL Net Metering – Net metering is one of the most important regulatory policies for residential solar owners in Florida, because it allows you to sell any excess solar energy you may have back to the grid.
    However, these incentives may not last forever. In March 2022, Florida lawmakers passed a bill that would phase out net metering incentives by 2029 even though a survey showed that 84 percent of residents supported net metering.

Which Solar System Is Right for the Homeowner?

Not all solar panels are created equal. While deciding which solar system is right for a homeowner, you’ll want to consider the size (kW) needed, the efficiency of the solar panels, the durability and more. Although this isn’t an exhaustive list, here are several of the top-rated solar panel systems.

  • LG Solar – This mid-price option gets top marks for durability and efficiency.
  • SunPower – Although more expensive than most competitors, SunPower systems are the most efficient models available for residential properties.
  • Panasonic HIT – These competitively priced solar panels are durable and good for extreme temperatures.

Benefits of Going Solar

Although the initial installation cost can be significant, there are many benefits to going solar.

  • Environmentally Friendly – One of the biggest selling points of solar panels is that they generate electricity from a renewable energy source – the sun.
  • Low-Maintenance – Other than occasionally brushing off debris, solar panels don’t require much effort in terms of upkeep.
  • Long-Term Savings – The average payback period for solar panels is about 10 years. After that point, monthly savings from utility bills can go straight into the bank.
  • Net Metering Saves Even More – Currently, Florida allows for net metering and homeowners with solar panels stand to earn even more money back from selling unused solar energy to a utility company.
  • Energy Efficiency – Solar panels can help you generate clean energy using sun rays. Plus, since sunlight is free, it’s a cost-effective way to generate electricity and potentially reduce your monthly electricity bills.
  • Environmental Benefits – Solar energy is clean, renewable and good for the environment. Installing solar systems can help reduce carbon emissions and create a more sustainable future.

Solar Rooftop Potential

Solar rooftop potential for the entire country is the number of rooftops that would be suitable for solar power, depending on size, shading, direction and location. Rooftop potential is not equivalent to the economic or market potential for rooftop solar – it doesn’t consider availability or cost. Rather, it is the upper limit of solar deployment on rooftops across the country.

Solar rooftop potential for an individual rooftop is the amount of solar that could be installed on that rooftop, based on its size, shading, tilt, location and construction. Satellite maps, irradiance data, equipment specifications and other factors inform the bids that installers present to customers to assist them in understanding the potential costs and benefits of solar panels on their roof.

According to National Renewable Energy Laborat-ory (NREL) analysis in 2016, there were over 8 billion square meters of rooftops on which solar panels could be installed in the U.S., representing over one terawatt of potential solar capacity. With improvements in solar conversion efficiency, rooftop potential is growing. Residential and other small rooftops represent about 65 percent of the national rooftop potential and 42 percent of residential rooftops are households with low-to-moderate income.

NREL estimates that an average of 3.3 million homes per year will be built or will require roof replacement, representing a potential of roughly 30 gigawatts (GW) of solar capacity per year. If even a small fraction of these new roofs receive solar installations, it could have a significant impact on U.S. solar power generation.


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