Here is part two of our list of best states in the United States to switch to solar energy. Similar to our Part one of top solar states in the U.S, the list is in alphabetical order, and includes previews about solar power in the next top 20 states. Check for incentives, tax breaks, RPS, Leasing options and more.
As you can see each state has different laws and incentives, and view solar power for their state differently. We already knows that California is one of the best states to go solar, but what are the other states ? Please see below. And if you wish to switch to solar energy, we advise you to talk to one of our recommended solar panel installer near you (free quote, with no obligation) who can provide you with an exact cost for your PV system along with your future savings.
Alabama, though it has plenty of sun to utilize, does not have adequate incentives or government assistance for homeowners eager to go solar. In addition, 23 million acres of Alabama is intact forest, which is about 68% of the state. Despite the sun and natural land, the state legislature has not yet put a solar incentive program in place. There have no RPS goal and do not allow solar leasing. With no RPS plan, there are no rebates for selling solar energy back to utility companies. In addition, there are no tax credits statewide either or net metering laws. The average time to pay back a full system solar panel purchase is sixteen years. Currently there is no solar leasing available in Alabama.
With half the year spent in almost all daylight and with so many homes built off the grid, you would think Alaska would be on the forefront of solar power usage. However, that is not yet the case. They do not have an RPS goal at all, even though the cost of electricity for them is well above the national average and they could benefit greatly from cheaper energy. They do not offer solar power rebates or leasing, and property tax exemptions are handled on a local level. On average, it takes a whopping fourteen years for each solar power system to pay for itself.
Florida is known as the Sunshine State so you would think they would be on the forefront of utilizing all that sun. However, in many areas, they are lagging behind in policy. In fact, they do not have an RPS goal at all, meaning there is no incentive for utility companies to offer incentives to consumers to produce solar energy. Electricity prices are also below the national average and there are no rebates or tax credits offered by the state whatsoever. They do offer solar leasing, as well as exempt solar systems 100% from both sales and property tax, which makes the time it takes for a solar system to pay for itself ten years.
Georgia started out a few years back with some strong solar power policies, but since then, lawmakers haven't done much to continue encouraging solar power use. They do not have an RPS goal and rebates vary by utility company, though most are $450 per kW with a cap of $4,500. Tax credits offered are generous at 35% with a maximum credit of $10,500. However, there are no solar leasing, no tax exemptions - either property or sales tax, making the time for a system to pay for itself a long thirteen years. Overall, Georgia could do more than offer a hefty tax credit to encourage its residents to adopt solar power.
There is plenty to do outdoors in Idaho and plenty of land worth protecting through the use of clean energy. However, legislatures have yet to make solar energy promotion a priority. They have no RPS goal, provide no solar power rebates, and do not offer property or sales tax exemptions whatsoever. There is also no leasing options in Idaho. The one incentive they have managed to enact is their meager tax credit, which is a flat $370 per year for four years. The lack of incentives is why it takes an average system to pay for itself sixteen years.
Illinois is the fifth most populous state in the US with the fifth largest economy. However, they are not fifth when it comes to solar power initiatives. But also give them credit, as they are beginning to take steps to encourage solar energy use. Their RPS goal is respectable, with a standard of deriving 25% of energy from renewable sources by 2025. They also offer large rebates equivalent to 25% of the cost of a home's solar system up to $7,500. However, they do not offer leasing, as well as no flat property or sales tax exemptions for solar energy systems, though they do offer a reassessment of property value, which should not include the actual system. All in all, it takes about nine years for a system to pay for itself in Illinois, which is quite good.
Though Iowa does have an RPS, it is one of the lowest of states that have a goal in place. They mandate only 105 MW of renewable sources from the states two major utility companies. Even though the state produces an impressive amount of wind energy, they still have yet to increase their RPS goal. They do not offer solar power leasing or rebates, but do offer a decent tax credit of 18% of the cost of the system up to $5,000. They also offer a 100% sales tax exemption and a 100% property tax exemption up to five years. In the end, the average system takes about twelve years to pay for itself.
Kansas gets just as much sun as southern California, but unfortunately, they haven't met California in its utilization of that sun. They have made some efforts to encourage solar power use, but they could do more. Their RPS goal is good at 20% renewable energy sources by 2020, but they do not yet offer any solar power leasing, rebates, tax credits, or sales tax exemptions. However, they do offer 100% property tax exemptions, which brings the average time for a solar power system to pay for itself to twelve years. Overall, Kansas could make better use of its abundance of sun and provide more incentives for residents to utilize its energy.
Louisiana has made some efforts with regard to policy and incentives to encourage solar power use, especially in tax credits. However, there are more varieties of ways they could encourage solar energy utilization that they haven't yet taken advantage of. For one, they do not have an RPS goal, which would really help utility companies provide their own incentives to consumers to provide solar energy. They also do not offer solar power rebates. However, their tax credit offering is outstanding at 50% of the cost of the solar power system up to $12,500. You can also get solar leasing for your system in Louisiana. Though the systems are not exempt form sales tax, they are 100% exempt from property tax. Thanks to the states tax credits, the average system pays for itself in six years.
Maine is in the process of updating its solar energy policies. Their RPS goal is high at 40% renewable energy production by 2017. They also have higher than average electricity cost. However, they do not offer solar power rebates or tax credits and are also behind in offering property and tax exemptions. No leasing is currently available in Maine. Hopefully in order to meet that $40% RPS goal they will start offering more incentives because currently the average system takes eleven years to pay for itself.
Just because Michigan is cold doesn't mean it doesn't get enough sun to support solar power production. In fact, solar panels are at their height of efficiency when it is cold and produce the most energy. That said, Michigan has a low RPS goal of only 10% by 2015 and does not offer solar power rebates or tax credits. In fact, Michigan does not even offer property or sales tax exemptions at all. Michigan residents will need to buy their system on a cash basis, with no leasing available. It is no wonder it takes a typical solar power system thirteen years to pay for itself.
Missouri set an RPS goal of a moderate 15% renewable energy production by 2021 and they already have an electricity cost that is lower than average. The state has left solar power rebates up to local utility companies, but a few have stepped up to provide rebates to their customers from $500 per kW up to $5,000 to $1,500 per kW up to $50,000. There are currently no tax credits or sales tax exemptions and no leasing available but the state does offer 100% property tax exemptions. The average time for a system to pay for itself is ten years with current policies.
North Carolina is one of the leaders in its region regarding solar power use, but they need to continue to take action if they want to stay that way, with tax credits and other incentives set to expire. They RPS goal is modest at 12.5% renewable energy production by 2021 but their solar power rebate offer is generous at $500 per kW up to $1,000. They also offer a credit of $4.50 per kW on every monthly energy bill. Tax credits are decent as well at 35% of the value of the system up to $10,500, and 80% of the value of the solar power system is exempt from property tax. With these benefits, a solar system only takes about six years to pay for itself (buying the system is on a cash basis in North Carolina). Keep it up, North Carolina, and get those policies renewed.
Ohio State legislatures are discussing renewable energy standards and laws but they are lagging behind enacting them. Their RPS goal is low, at only 12.5% energy from renewable sources by 2026, and they also have a fairly average cost of electricity when compared to the national average. They also do not offer solar power leasing, rebates or tax credits at all, but they do give 100% exemption on property and sales tax. Though slow getting started, there is hope for Ohio to up its solar power standards and hopefully lessen the average of twelve years it takes for a solar power system to pay for itself.
State legislatures have a pitiful RPS goal of only 2% by 2021 and offer no solar power rebates. South Carolina does offer a tax credit of 25% up to $3,500, but they do not exempt solar power systems from property taxes or sales taxes. A system here takes about eight years to pay for itself (on a cash basis, with no leasing available) which is not bad at all, considering the state's out of date policies.
Tennessee is home to many natural environments and wonders like points of the Appalachian Trail, the Cherokee National Forest, and the Great Smoky Mountains. The Tennessee Valley Authority, which is Tennessee's major electricity provider is doing a great job providing initiatives for solar energy utilization, but the state legislature is slightly behind. For one, there is no RPS goal or tax credits from the state. The TVA is, however, providing a $1,000 rebate upon installation of a system. Property tax exemptions cover two thirds of the assessed value of the solar system, which is 100% exempt from sales tax. The state do not offer solar leasing, but thanks to the TVA, the time for a solar system to pay for itself is brought down to twelve years. With the help of the legislature, this could be even lower.
Utah is home to ski slopes, national parks, lakes, part of the Grand Canyon, and of course the Great Salt Lake. There is no shortage of great outdoors to protect in Utah, but there is a shortage of solar progress in the legislature. The RPS goal is generous, but voluntary by utility company, at 20% renewable energy sources by 2025. They do offer solar power leasing, as well as rebates of $1,250 per kW up to $5,000 or $1,000 per kW up to $3,000 depending on utility company. Tax credits are also reasonable, at 25% up to $2,000, but they unfortunately do not offer property tax exemption and sales tax exemptions do not include most home systems. In Utah, it takes an average of thirteen years for a solar power system to pay for itself.
Virginia is falling far behind its neighbors in solar energy production. Legislatures have not provided many incentives or written policy to encourage solar power adoption. They have a voluntary RPS goal of 15% renewable energy production by 2025, which they met in 2007. Electricity prices are pretty average, and the only solar power rebates offered are offered by the Tennessee Valley Authority of $1,000 and only in areas of their jurisdiction. There is no statewide rebate, but there is a 20% sales tax tax credit with a maximum credit of $500. Property tax exemptions are handled at a local level and there is no sales tax exemption. Not surprisingly, and with cash payment only, and the lack of policy makes the average time for a system to pay for itself eighteen years.
Wisconsin is home to some beautiful environments, including the 1.5 million acre Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. In fact, 46% of the state is covered in intact forest. With all this land to protect, they have a great incentive to implement solar power incentives. However, they have a relatively low RPS goal at 10% renewable energy sources by 2015. Their cost of electricity is a bit higher than the national average and they do offer a generous solar power rebate of $600 per kW up to $2,400. There are no tax credit incentives, and no solar leasing available, but Wisconsin does offer 100% property tax and sales tax exemptions on solar panel installations. Overall, Wisconsin is a fine state to go solar in, with eleven years being the average time it takes for a full system installation to pay for itself.
Wyoming has no shortage of natural resources worth protecting, but it does have a shortage of policy working to protect it. Solar energy would be a great choice for Wyoming to take advantage of, (on a cash basis only at the moment) but unfortunately, it has yet to do so. The have no RPS goal, no solar power rebates, and offer no sales or property tax exemption. With no state tax already, tax credits are unavailable to them. With relatively no initiative or legislative policy to encourage solar power utilization, it is not surprising that a solar system in Wyoming take on average seventeen years to pay for itself.