Solar power should be a shoe-in for those living in the Peach State.
After all, we have a sunshine record that outshines even our sunny southern disposition.
Georgia actually receives as much sun as parts of Florida! So there’s plenty of solar fuel to power the average Atlanta home.
Georgia should be heaven for those looking to make the sun shine on their utility bills. A genuine solar good news story.
Sadly, the State’s legislators haven’t got round to reading the memo. They’ve done about as little as they can to help move the sun-powered revolution forward.
But plenty of individual Empire Staters have.
That’s even without the generous incentives many other states have for making power clean.
Because the solar sums in Georgia make sense if you want to save money on your bills. Or even if just want to save the planet.
There are plenty of options for making solar work in Georgia, too. Especially now that the state legislature has passed laws to open the Georgia up to solar leasing and power-purchase agreements.
More on those 0 down financing options later. Enough to say that, nowadays, Georgians can see big savings on their bills without having to spend a dollar upfront.
Whether you’ll be buying, leasing, or loaning, here at Solar Nation, we’re happy to give you the low-down on going solar in Georgia.
Let’s start with a run-through the numbers that matter for the average Joe.
Georgia Solar Power: Check your Savings, Costs, Tax Breaks, Incentives and Rebates
Return on Investment for Residential Solar Power in Georgia
There’s no doubt that solar power is changing the world. Bringing power back to the people. Maybe even saving the world.
But let’s start with the bottom line saving. How much money can you make from going solar in the Peach State?
We’ll begin with the numbers for buying an average-sized system for an average-sized house.
Say you put 5 kW of solar panels on your roof. What will be your total savings in 25 years time?
You might be surprised, but you could actually save over $20k on your utility bill in that time.
Buying a 5KW Solar System — a Georgian case study
Joe (or Jane) in somewhere like Atlanta can expect to pay around $15,000 for an outright purchase of a 5kW solar system today. “Ouch!” you might say.
And there are other options that can mean you shell out nothing upfront at all.
But first off, what exactly will those panels be doing for you (and the planet) while they’re soaking up all that lovely Georgia sunshine?
Going solar is still peachy in Georgia
First the headline benefits of putting solar on the roof:
- An average of 20 kWh of electricity generated for you daily. In Atlanta’s sunny month of May, we could be looking at 25 kWh each day. A great help for cooling things down as the summer heat kicks in.
- In one year that’s over 7,300 kWh of electricity that won’t ever show on the utility bill!
- That’s half the average bill that Joe (or Jane) pays in Georgia, all gone in a twinkle of the sun.
- And over 1 ton of the black stuff (carbon) that Georgia’s power-station smoke stacks won’t be emitting, each year your panels are on the roof.
- In fact, it’s the same as planting and growing around 120 peach trees, every year.
Sweet indeed! But how much do solar panels cost, you ask?
- Well, you’ll have to pay $15,000 for the panels first.
- And Georgia’s 4% sale tax bumps that up to $15,600.
- But throw in the federal Income Tax Credit (ITC) and we’re looking at less than $11k outlay.
- And you’ll be saving from the word go, with $720 off your bill for the first year.
- So you’ll only have paid a net $10,200 in those first 12 months.
- Over the system’s 25-year lifetime you’re looking at an absolute minimum of $10,000 saved. And that’s on the rosy assumption electricity rates stay at the average $0.115/kWh we paid in 2015.
- Assume electric rates rise by a more realistic 3% a year and the savings on your $10k investment would tally over $20,000!
Not a bad return. In fact, the numbers come out as the same as a 5% return on your investment, taking everything into account, over 25 years.
Georgia Solar Power Incentives, Tax Breaks and Rebates
We’ve already said that Georgia’s legislators haven’t really seen the light when it comes to solar’s potential.
In fact, they’re probably near the bottom of the class, on measures taken to help homeowners cut their bills with solar.
There are pretty much zero incentives at the state level for putting solar panels on the roof.
Net metering is one area where things are OK (more on that later), as is the recent change to make power purchase agreements (PPAs) legal.
But that’s pretty much it.
Some of the utility companies have put helpful programs in place, though. Those who are in the TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) area can get a $0.02/kWh payment for excess solar power generated, and even a $1,000 rebate for the initial system cost.
Georgia tax credit
Georgia doesn’t currently have a tax credit for homeowners switching to solar.
There was a program that offered a credit of 35% of the system’s installation cost (up to $10,500). However, the funding wasn’t renewed.
So the only tax credit you can tap today is the 30% ITC that the federal government offers.
Are there any Rebates for Solar Power in Georgia?
A bit of a blank here too, when it comes to the state government at least.
Some utilities are ahead of the curve though. We’ve already mentioned TVA, with their $1,000 rebate.
You can also put Central Georgia, GreyStone Power, and Jackson EMC in the forward-looking camp. They all provide a rebate of $450 for each kW of capacity your system has.
Georgia Tax Exemptions
Another big fat fail. Georgia has a 4% sales tax, and many solar-friendly states will waive that for the purchase and installation of your panels. Not Georgia, though.
Renewable Portfolio Standards (or ‘RPS’, see below) have been essential in getting the solar revolution kick-started in many states. They push the utilities with binding targets to generate electricity more cleanly, so as to benefit the environment.
What is an RPS really?
In many states you’ll hear about how its ‘RPS’ is a big deal, when it comes to boosting solar energy.
But what exactly is a Renewable Portfolio Standard?
Basically, it is a state law passed to promote clean energy, by setting targets. They have been really helpful in getting the utility companies on-side, when it comes to the big switch-over to renewables.
When a state sets an RPS target, it’s saying that utilities must generate a certain amount of their electricity from renewable sources, usually by a certain date. If not, they’ll be fined.
So it’s a great push factor in getting power companies to promote new clean energy like solar power.
They avoid the fine, and you get the low-cost solar power. Without an RPS, utilities are less likely to help with solar or wind power for their customers.
That said, some of the more forward-looking power companies will lay out a few goodies for those wanting to do good for the planet, Even here in Georgia (see Rebates below).
Georgia Electricity Rates
Electricity costs in Georgia runs a tad below the average for the U.S. as a whole.
In 2014 the state-wide average was 11.6 c/kWh. The average U.S. family pays out 12.5 c/kWh to power their homes. So some good news?
Not really. Those lower rates come at a price, paid in terms of poor air-quality, linked to many health problems, and environmental problems likeclimate change.
Those rates are also leaping ahead —from 7.8 cents/kWh in 2004 to 11.6 cents/kWh in 2014. That’s a rise of nearly 50% in 10 years!
Is there Net Metering in Georgia?
Yes, Net Metering is something that Georgia can boast. But only in a limited form.
The minimum standard for Net Metering is to make sure the utility is counting the electricity that your solar panels are pumping back to the grid. The times when the meter turns backwards.
That’s when you should get credited by the utility. And Georgia does do this.
That’s bad news for those who come to the solar party too late. But a real good reason to make the switch to solar now, before you miss out on the Net Metering still available.
Ready to jump ahead of the line and get your solar system Net Metered? We can put you in touch with solar advisors right now who can get you solar-powered fast.
What's net metering anyways?
Net metering is a vital part of making solar power work for homeowners. It means nothing is wasted, even when the power you generate and the power you use aren’t exactly balanced.
That’s important because the power your system produces varies as the sun moves round the sky.
When the sun is high in summer you may actually produce more electricity than you use.
Under net metering, that extra power gets sent to the grid. And you become the power station for the utility
Rather than letting that spare power go to waste, Net Metering means your meter effectively spins backwards. And as it spins, it earns money for you from those unused electrons.
That’s because the utility has to pay you for the energy you’re supplying to them under Net Metering.
Are there 0 down payment financing Options in Georgia?
Yes. And since the law in Georgia was changed on leases and PPAs, they come in three main flavors:
- Power purchase agreements
- Solar leases
- Solar loans
With each of these there’s a difference as to what your responsibilities are.
But for all of them, you’ll be making some sort of saving, with no down payment.
Solar Lease in Georgia?
Yes, there are. Solar leases have become the bright new future of late. Now that the law on third-party ownership of solar has been changed, you can lease a system from a solar company.
There are a couple of things to look out for, though.
First, make sure you have a performance-guarantee clause. This states that certain amounts of energy should be produced from the panels on your roof.
With them, your leasing company will stay on-the-ball,making sure your system is in tip top condition.
Second, you may notice your fee will be slightly higher, at the start, than your utility bill savings.
Don’t panic. It’s all because Georgia’s utility rates are still relatively cheap for the U.S.
But in soon enough you’ll see those utility rates overtaking those lease payments, as the cost of electricity rises.
So you will save in the long run, Especially as, in Georgia’s case, rate rises have been as much as 5% per year recently.
Solar Power Loan?
If you’d prefer to own your solar panels, for only a small (or even no) outlay, then a solar loan makes sense.
This way you’ll get better rates of return, especially if you can tap a home-equity line of credit. You’ll soon be solar powered, and you won’t have to raid your cash savings.
If you’re a taxpayer, you’ll also benefit from the federal ITC.
You will, however, be on the line for any maintenance or cleaning your panels will need.
PPA Option on Georgia?
This is the other approach for going solar with no (or little) upfront cost. PPAs are similar to leases, but rather than paying a fee to lease the panels from a third-party, you’re only paying for the power that they produce.
No hassles of ownership. No worries about performance. And no big down-payments.
And, now the law has changed, they’re up for grabs by Georgian homeowners.
What is PPA?
A Power Purchase Agreement, or PPA, is anagreement between you and your solar panel provider.
You provide them with the roof for the panels. They provide you with power at a guaranteed price.
Like a lease, you’ll benefit from solar power without worrying about details like planning, installation, equipment upgrades, maintenance, and cleaning.
One thing to look out for here is thePPA price escalator. This is where the PPA price rises gradually throughout your PPA contract, according to an agreed schedule.
These escalators are a reasonable way for the solar panel company to take gradual performance and maintenance issues into account over its lifetime.
Just make sure your PPA escalator isn’t too steep. It should be much less than expected utility rate rises.
Is there Feed in Tariff in Georgia?
No, unfortunately not. Although there are some performance payments that are similar, offered by utilities in Georgia.
It’s called the Generation Partners program. It only amounts to 2 cents for each kWh you send to the grid, and only for 10 years.
But for our 5kW solar system in Atlanta, that could add up to hundreds of dollars—not to be sniffed at.
The biggest utility, Georgia Power, also had a performance payment program. But new solar powered homeowners have been locked out for a while, as its subscription is all used up.
Leasing vs Purchasing: What's best for Georgian Homeowners?
The choice between what’s best for you depends on your appetite for risk and reward. And also how much cash you have to hand to invest in the solar dream.
Leasing works well for the risk adverse, and the cash poor. It’s for those who are keen to do their bit to save the planet, but who don’t want to make big payments up-front for the privilege.
But because of Georgia’s low electricity rates, don’t expect mammoth savings.
Purchasing is ideal for those who have the money to buy outright. It’s for those who want to fully enjoy all the benefits—financial and environmental—from switching to sun power.
With Georgia’s low electricity rates and incentives, this may be the best way to maximize your returns.
What is the Solar Panel Installation Process in Georgia?
The solar installation process starts with home visit by an energy assessment team.
They’ll talk to you about your bills, how best to site your system, and the financial options available.
Once they’ve got the measure of your place, went over solar panel reviews together
and found out exactly what your needs are, they’ll be able to provide you with a fully detailed PV quote.
This will highlight potential tax rebates, breaks, and incentives that may be available to you.
They’ll also give you detailed breakdown of the savings you can expect to make.
Once you’ve agreed and signed your agreement, the solar installation team can schedule a date for transforming your house from energy sink into a solar-powered energy producer!
The installation process usually only takes three to four days.
- Fill in our simple solar form
- Receive quotes from the best local solar suppliers
- Choose the best money-saving solar option for you
- Once your system is installed, just sit back, relax—and watch the savings roll in
Georgia has all the makings of a becoming a true solar powered state—over 30% of the state’s electricity could come from solar.
And because the pollution levels for its electricity production are quite high, those going solar in Georgia are making big gains for the environment, and the planet.
Even though the incentives from the state aren’t as good as some, Georgia’s sunny climes still make it a great place to go solar AND save money
The starting gun on Georgia’s solar transformation has been fired. And those already on the starting blocks could get the biggest prize — so what are you waiting for?
Provide us with some basic details about you and your home. We’ll then be able to connect you with tried-and-trusted Georgian solar installers.