Some might think that the Pine Tree State—tucked so far north-east it’s almost swallowed by Canada—is the last place in the U.S. where solar power is going to be big.
And it’s true that, compared to other states, Maine has been lagging behind in the race for solar.
But there’s a surprisingly rich seam of sunshine up here. States like Massachusetts are already “mining” it with plenty of success, And we actually see as much of the sun as some parts of Tennessee.
In fact, if every roof in the state had a solar panel, they’d supply a quarter of all electricity we use each year.
More than that, solar power means energy independence. A big deal in a state known for going its own way.
Not forgetting that little matter of saving the planet. Plenty of good reasons for solar making it to Main Street in Maine, then.
Check out their quotes, choose your installer, then switch on to the bright solar future
Of course, there are a few things to sort out before the sun starts lightening your utility bills:
- Whether to buy your panels out-right.
- Whether to sign up for a lease.
- Whether to look at off-grid options.
And to help you decide which route to take, here at Solar Nation we’ve put together a low-down on the highlights for all the options.
Maine Solar Power: Check your Savings, Costs, Tax Breaks, Incentives and Rebates
Return on Investment for Residential Solar Power in Maine
If you’ve already got a pile of cash put aside, then buying the panels out right is a great way to maximize the total monies you’ll save. And you’ll be surprised just how much those slivers of silicon on your roof will earn you, and for how long.
Most are warrantied out to 25 years. But experts reckon your panels could be powering you home for 30 years or more.
But let’s stick to a 25-year time frame. Placed on a house in the ‘burbs of Portland, you earn nearly $20k in solar savings.
So we’re in the profit zone already!
Even before we start looking at tax credits and other incentives — a promising start! Let’s see how the rest of the numbers fall out.
- Costs for installing solar PV panels have come down a long way, even over the last couple of years. So you could pay as little as $15,000 for a 5kW solar system today. But there’s more. Uncle Sam wants you to go solar. Bad. - It reduces our reliance on foreign oil. It cleans our air. And it’s bringing clean energy jobs. So the feds will give you a tax credit for your system—a nice fat 30% ITC. - And there’s more good news: You’ll see an average of 18 kWh of clean solar electricity per day, initially. - In the first year, that adds up to 6,670 kWh of free power to play with!
- Costs for installing solar PV panels have come down a long way, even over the last couple of years. So you could pay as little as $15,000 for a 5kW solar system today.
But there’s more. Uncle Sam wants you to go solar. Bad.
- It reduces our reliance on foreign oil. It cleans our air. And it’s bringing clean energy jobs. So the feds will give you a tax credit for your system—a nice fat 30% ITC.
- And there’s more good news: You’ll see an average of 18 kWh of clean solar electricity per day, initially.
- In the first year, that adds up to 6,670 kWh of free power to play with!
In effect your electric bill will be slashed by 2/3 thanks to your panels, and the sun.
You’ll also help Maine’s power-stations to avoid 2.5 tons of carbon emissions. Not in total, but every year!
Equivalent, if you want to think in even greener terms, to planting 60 pine trees every year. That’s great for the planet, and for Maine (after all, we’ve probably got enough pines already!).
- Start with you $15,000 sticker price, before tax.
- With Maine’s 5.5% sale tax you’ll be looking at $15,825 (sadly no tax exemptions here!)
- But let’s not forget your Income Tax Credit (ITC).That brings us back down to $11k.
- And your first year will see $550 lopped off of your utility bill.
So you’ll only have paid out a net $10,500 in those first 12 months.
But the savings will keep on rolling in, year after year:
- Over our 25-year time frame,if your utility bill never rose once, you’d save $8,170. But a freeze is not likely!
- If we get real and assume electric rates rise by their historic levels of 3% a year,your savings pile will swell to just under $20,000!
- That’s not just money in the bank—it boosts your house price too. The value of a property goes up in proportion to the savings likely to be made by the PV panels placed on its roof.
Not a bad return on your investment.
For a more accurate breakdown that can fit our personal home we recommend you visit our solar energy calculator page here.
Maine Solar Power Incentives, Tax Breaks and Rebates
Maine is one of those states that can’t quite make up its mind on solar power. It got off to a good start with an excellent RPS target, nice solar rebates, and a good net metering scheme (don’t worry we’ll explain that jargon in a moment). But that was last millennium.
Since then things took a step or two backwards. Now the state legislature is on the move again, in a helpful way. There’s a big new push to try and help Mainers get up to speed. To catch the solar bus before it leaves town.
A strong RPS (Renewable Portfolio Standard) is what makes the difference between states that are making big strides to go green (go California!) and those left in the doldrums (we’re talking about you Florida).
It paints the big picture for the utilities, telling them what the “vision” is for cleaning up energy generation. A good RPS should help the utility to help you to switch to solar power.
Maine has a strong RPS target, and adopted it early, back in 1999. And there’s no doubt it’s helped boost renewable energy’s slice of the pie.
Solar power stands at a paltry 13 MW installed capacity Maine. Compared to over 1,000 MW of solar energy in Massachusetts.
What is an RPS really?
You’ll often hear the letters ‘RPS’ thrown about when talking about solar energy. But what exactly is a ‘Renewable Portfolio Standard’?
Basically, it’s a state law setting binding targets for clean energy. RPS have been really useful in getting the utilities to take renewable energy generation seriously.
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.
The threat of fines makes the utilities extra keen to offer their customers incentives, rebates, and grants for their solar systems. Everyone wins.
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.
Maine tax credit
Maine, it seems, is happy to let the federal government carry the tab here. There’s no state tax credit available at the moment. But still, even with the just 30% federal ITC, your solar costs are slashed big time.
Are there any Rebates for Solar Power in Maine?
Once upon a time, the answer would have been yes. But then the state legislature managed to remove the rebate with a typo in the text of the bill.
That’s right—the rebate was lost with a slip of the pen. You really couldn’t make it up!
Maine Tax Exemptions
Sadly, there’s no exemption in the Pine State from the 5.5% sales tax,when it comes to buying installing solar systems.
But the claim back of the ITC softens that a little.
Maine Electricity Rates
Maine has electricity rates that are a fair bit higher than most states. Last year, residential rates rose to 15.6 cents per kWh, which is 20% higher than the U.S. average.
High rates are actually helpful, though, when thinking about a transition to solar power. They mean you’ll be saving even more money, when the sun starts shining on your panels, so improving the economics.
Is there Net Metering in Maine?
Yes, this is another of Maine’s bright spots. All utility companies have to provide you with Net Metering for your solar system.
It means that any power you generate,above what you need for your home, is credited to your bill the next month. Excess power production can happen at lot, especially in summer.
So Net Metering means you actually get paid to power the grid—a nice little role reversal!
A little fly in the ointment is that, after 12 months, any leftover credits become null and void.
But locking into the existing Net Metering scheme may be the sensible thing right now.
What's Net Metering anyways?
Net metering is a vital part of making solar power work for homeowners. It means little is wasted, even when the power you generate, and the power you use, aren’t exactly balanced.
That’s important because the electricity your system produces varies as the sun moves round the sky. When the sun is highest 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.
Your utility has to pay you for the energy you’re supplying to them under Net Metering. Often this is at the retail electricity rate, the rate you normally pay them. Welcome to the wonderful world of energy independence!
Are there 0 down payment financing Options in Maine?
Yes, solar loans, leases and PPAs can all be found here. They all provide you with the chance to have a solar system on your roof without big bucks up front. Going green without the greenback, you could say.
Although, remember that the solar market is still quite small in Maine. So you’ll need help in finding exactly the right zero-down package for you. Which is where we come in. Let’s try and explain what the options are.
Solar Lease in Maine?
You may be able to arrange a solar lease in Maine. They’re just like leasing your car. Except that you’ll park solar panels on the roof, instead of a car on the drive.
The lease company will own these panels, but you’ll get all the power. You simply pay them a monthly leasing fee, and they hook you up to the sun.
This states how much energy your panels should provide. This way, the leasing company takes proper responsibility for looking after the panels, so you get the maximum juice out of them.
Solar Power Loan?
Yes, arranging a solar loan should be a cinch in Maine, especially if you can get a home equity line of credit. It means you’ll own the solar panels, without having to stump up cash to get them on the roof. Loans make for reasonable rates of return too, as you won’t have to raid your cash savings.
If you’re a tax payer, you’ll also benefit from the federal ITC. And with solar loans backed by 25 years of guaranteed bill savings, interest rates can be low.
PPA Option on Maine?
This last option can be arranged in certain circumstances in Maine, but is more often used to fund solar for non-profits in the Pine State.
Again, they can be set up to have no upfront cost. Power purchase agreements (PPA) are like leases, but like the name says, are payments for performance.
You only pay (at a reduced rate) for each kWh of electricity generated. And you’re off the hook, when it comes to maintenance or cleaning.
What is PPA?
A Power Purchase Agreement, or PPA, is an agreement 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.
Most PPAs also have an option for you to buy the system at the end of the contract, which can add real value to your home.
One thing to look out for here is the PPA 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 Maine?
No, those busy state legislators haven’t got round to passing this really helpful measure. But things are moving forward on a new bill that will put solar energy at the center of Maine’s energy switch.
So something similar to a feed in tariff could still come in. But don’t wait for these measures to pass into law.
First, because you can make good savings already. And second, because the bill being discussed will “grandfather” applicants who moved onto solar before it was passed.
Leasing vs Purchasing: What's best for Maine’s Homeowners?
As with many things, the choice between leasing and purchasing depends on how you see risk and reward. And on how much skin you want in the solar game.
Leasing works well for the risk adverse. For those who want to help clean up our energy, and cut pollution, but without taking on the hassles (and big initial outlay) of purchase.
Purchasing is good for those with the money to invest. For those who also want to make the most of the benefits and incentives out there for switching onto the sun.
What is the Solar Panel Installation Process in Maine?
The solar installation process begins with a 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, and understood exactly what your needs are, they’ll provide you with a fully detailed PV quote. This will highlight any tax rebates or breaks, and any other incentives that you may qualify for. 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 will schedule a date. And in a few days you’ll go from dead weight consumer to a live-and-kicking solar-powered energy producer!
1. Fill in our simple solar form
2. Receive quotes from the best local solar suppliers
3. Choose the best money-saving solar option for you
4. Once your system is installed, just sit back, relax—and watch the savings roll in
Maine may be on the outside edge of the U.S., but there’s no reason why it can’t be in the center of the solar revolution. Studies show that up to 24% of our electricity could come from solar-powered roofs. Starting with yours.
Now’s the time to seriously think about joining the growing number of Mainers making their own electrons (and saving their own money) with a few cool slices of silicon on the roof.
Time, perhaps, for solar to go mainstream in Maine—and for Mainers like you.
And you’ll be part of the solution, not the problem!