Solar Power in Maine: All you need to Know!

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Data shows that Maine gets as much of the sun as some parts of Tennessee. Meaning Maine can be a solar gold mine!

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.

If you decide to invest in a big block of batteries to store all that sunshine, solar can even mean energy security for you. A huge help when the grid goes AWOL in the teeth of a nor’easter.

Not forgetting that little matter of saving the planet. Plenty of good reasons for solar making it to Main Street in Maine, then.

You can mainline your solar future, and start saving, right away. Just fill out the details on our solar form and we’ll put you in touch with carefully selected Maine solar installers.

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.

A mid-sized system, made up of say 5kW of solar panels, will fit nicely on most roofs in the state. Once there, they’ll generate power for you for decades.

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.

Buying a 5KW Solar System—a Maine case study

- 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!).

But isn’t $15,000 rather a lot of money? Yes, but we can quickly trim that down to size.

- 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.

If you want to see your bill cut down to size, we can make it easy for you, fill out a few contact details on our solar questionnaire. Then we’ll put you in touch with the local expert firms for making solar work in Maine. They’ll talk you through all the numbers: modules, panels and kilowatts hour, and (best of all) dollars you’ll save

Maine Solar Power Incentives, Tax Breaks and Rebates

solar power means energy independence, A big deal in a state known for going its own way.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.

In the meantime, it’s a mixed bag of goodies for the Maine homeowner trying to do their bit for the planet (and the bank balance).

Maine RPS

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.

But there was no ‘solar carve-out’—a target for solar separate from other clean energy technologies. So most of the gains have gone into “biomass” plants, burning wood-waste, not sun-powered roofs.

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.

After all, power companies need a push. Most still make money selling us more and more energy. They’re not best pleased that we’re starting to generate our own power.

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.

The thing to remember is that those utility rates are likely to keep heading up. Fossil fuels are not going to last forever. And, one day, the government is sure to pass the costs of pollution from burning dirty fossil fuels onto the power companies. That’s the day you’ll be glad you made the switch to clean solar power.

 

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.

Another thing to look out for is a new solar bill, which may eventually mean Net Metering is replaced by something similar. It might mean more money, it might mean less.

But locking into the existing Net Metering scheme may be the sensible thing right now.

If watching your meter spin backwards sounds like fun, we can help make it happen. We can put you in touch with solar advisers right now, Just fill out your contact details on our online form. Then we’ll put you in touch with Maine installers who can get panels onto your roof fast.

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.

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.

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?

Purchasing a solar system is ideal for people who have to money to invest and want to make the most of the incentives for switchingto solarYes, 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.

You should check your lease has performance-guarantee clauses, though.

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.

But remember with ownership comes responsibility. Any maintenance or cleaning or insurance for your panels will be down to you.

 

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.

Like a lease, you’ll benefit from solar power without worrying about details like planning, installation, equipment upgrades, maintenance, and cleaning.

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.

If a PPA sounds like your sort of deal, now’s the time to lock those savings in, just fill out our Maine solar panel installation form here. Once you’ve provided us with some basic details, we’ll connect you to respected local firms. They’ll help you to quickly turn your solar dream into reality on the roof.

 

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.

At the moment in Maine, the rates of return are reasonable, but not brilliant, because those benefits are on the low side. That means leases or loans may better suit you.

 

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!

The installation process starts with a few simple steps:

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

 

Conclusion

If every roof in the state had a solar panel, they’d supply a quarter of all electricity we use each year.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.

If you’re ready to make you roof buzz with money-saving solar power, we can help. Just fill out our simple solar installation questionnaire, Provide us with some basic details about you and your home. We’ll then be able to connect you with tried-and-trusted Maine solar installers.

And you’ll be part of the solution, not the problem!

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