The use of solar energy in the U.S. is growing rapidly. Data provided by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), shows the U.S. has installed 29.3 gigawatts (GW) of total installed capacity, enough to power 5.7 million American homes. As solar energy has become more available and more affordable, now is a great time for communities to start investing in a clean, safe, and reliable answer to help address the increasing demand for energy. Resource information has been compiled from SEIA and the U.S. Department of Energy.
Here are five resources that will help your community begin its solar development or continue to invest in current and future energy projects and programs.
1. SolSmart Program
Does Your Community Need Help Becoming "Solar Ready"?
In its most recent initiative, The U.S. Department of Energy has funded the SolSmart program to encourage city and county governments throughout the United States to improve local solar policies and processes. Participation in the SolSmart program helps to reduce the soft costs of going solar and signals your community is “open for solar business,” which can help to spur solar adoption, create jobs, and boost the local economy. Additionally, communities receiving designation will be nationally recognized for their participation.
2. Tax Credits
Solar Investment Tax Credit
The solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is one of the most important federal policy mechanisms to support the deployment of solar energy in the United States. The ITC is a 30 percent tax credit for solar systems on residential (under Section 25D) and commercial (under Section 48) properties.
3. Tax Credit Bonds
Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBS)
CREBS are tax credit bonds that can be used by government entities, municipal utilities, and electric cooperatives to finance solar installations and other renewable energy projects.
Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds (QECBS)
QECBS are similar to CREBS with the advantage of being issued for energy efficiency projects and green community programs.
4. Federal Grants
Federal Grants Search Through Grants.gov
Review the list of grant opportunities available in your community on Grants.gov. Find and apply to any of the active and forcasted federal grants, but pay close attention to the deadlines.
Rural Energy for America Program (REAP)
Renewable Energy Systems & Energy Efficiency Improvement Loans & Grants are available through the USDA for rural communities.
5. Find More Incentives
The Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) has a comprehensive list of solar incentives by state, as well as more information and maps showing solar policies across the U.S.