As those of us who have been active in the solar industry for some time will tell you (without prompting), now is the best time to go solar (and always has been). How can this possibly be true?
Why Now is the Best Time to Go Solar
If (like me) you don’t happen to have a fully functioning time machine, now will continue to be the best time to go solar: you can’t go back to the past and go solar then anymore. Rebates were higher 2 years ago or even 10 years ago, so you could have gotten more of your solar system paid for by someone else. But, guess what? Solar panels were more expensive then too, so those two facts more or less cancel each other out. If you had gone solar years ago, you likely would have paid more over all for your system, but you also would have been saving on your electric bills in the meantime. In any case, that option is no longer available (unless you get that time machine working).
So, I guess the reason why it seems like the best time to go solar has to be now, is that rebates are continuing to be reduced on a semi-regular – though somewhat unpredictable – basis. Solar panel prices have stopped their steep price decline (thanks China, it was fun while it lasted), and if you wait too long the 30% Federal ITC (solar investment tax credit) will expire at the end of next year.
Solar Energy Incentives
Why are all of these incentives going down, when everything we know about the state of the world is telling us that we need more solar energy, not less? Well, part of the reason is explained by basic human nature: we vacillate between crisis and complacency. So unless something appears to be on fire, we tend to order another beer. If rebates were increasing, we’d just wait to go solar until it was free (wait a minute, haven’t I been seeing TV commercials telling me that it is free?). And if incentives never changed, we’d feel no sense of urgency to act.
Leveling the Playing Field
But why is it that the solar industry has come to accept the inevitability of lower incentives for solar energy? Especially while I don’t hear anyone clamoring for the repeal of the Price Anderson Act (read more about that here) for the nuclear industry, or increases in the price on royalties paid to the government for drilling for oil and natural gas on federal lands?
Unfortunately, for the answer to those questions, you’ll have to wait for the next blog —nobody wants to read things that are longer than 400 words these days, and I’m already over my limit.