When people think of solar panels, they are usually envisioning wealthy households. After all, these are the individuals who can afford to buy new homes with them. They are also the ones who can afford a high-cost solar system in their homes.
However, people from all income levels should be considering solar panels. This movement towards a cleaner environment affects everyone, so even lower-income families should get incentives to do so.
This is exactly the initiative behind the programs that are coming out to fit solar panels into homes of families with low income. In the following article, we will explore what is available for families who are considering solar panels but who are also on a strict budget.
California’s Single-Family Affordable Solar Homes (SASH) Program
The state of California decided to make a program that gives solar panel access to people with low income. There is also a MultiFamily Affordable Solar Homes (MASH) initiative as well.
In these two programs, people who are low income and who qualify will get rebates on their renovations.
Right now, SASH is offering $3 per watt. The home must also be classed as affordable housing under California Public Utilities Code 2852.
Grants From the Federal Government
The federal government is also very invested in helping low-income families get solar panels. Right now, the government is offering 22% off of a system that a family installs. It is called an Investment Tax Credit (ITC).
A couple of years ago, it used to be 8% more, but there have been some cuts. Right now is still an ideal time for families to capitalize on this program before the program is cut altogether.
One advantage of this rebate is that it can be used in conjunction with other rebates. For example, there are other grants out there that do not even need to be repaid.
Grants From the U.S. Department of Energy
There are grants that come from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. While these grants are not necessarily geared at low-income families, low-income families will be able to qualify if they apply.
A candidate should go to the website for more details. There are grants on there such as the Green Retrofit Grants, Tribal Energy Program, REAP Grants, High Energy Cost Grants, and Renewable Energy Grants.
Some of those listed are for tribal lands or rural areas only. However, the Renewable Energy Grants is an after-the-fact tax credit.
The one on the list that is specifically aimed at low-income families is the Green Retrofit Grant. The government will work with people that are in low-income areas to install the panels. The grants must be used within two years of them being granted.
State Utility Rebates
These rebates usually come to the state through the federal government. They are disbursed in the form of rebates. The rebates can be up to several thousand dollars.
While loans might not seem as utilitarian as a grant, they can still help a savvy consumer to install the solar panels and then pay later. Unfortunately, they operate as lien on the home. However, the family will start saving on an electrical bill after the installation, so it can be easy to use that money to pay back the lien.
Once the debt is paid off, the low-income family can benefit from a reduction in bills in general. The terms of these of usually seven to 20 years, but they are well worth it.
The loans available are the FHA PowerSaver, Multi-Family Housing Loan, and Rural Utilities Service Electric Program. The Multi-Family Housing Loan is the one that is specifically aimed at low-income families.
Solar Tax Credits
These are offered by the Internal Revenue Agency. The IRS will pay 30% of the tax liability of the installation cost of solar panels in tax credits. However, this is just on the tax liability portion, so not the entire installation cost. Still, every little bit counts, and getting tax credits can help to soften the blow.
Colorado Rooftop Low Income Program and Other State Programs
This program is unique because the Colorado Energy Office will actually subsidize the entire cost of the installation. However, the stipulation is that the family must have an income of 200% or less than the federal poverty level. For a one-person household, this is $12,880. That means that a person who has an income of $25,760 can still qualify.
The poverty level goes up for every additional family member. For example, the poverty level for a family of four in 2021 is $26,500 which is more than double that of a single-family home. The other condition is that the family must own the home.
There are other state programs such as the Connecticut Green Bank Low Income Residential Solar Incentive Program, the Hawaii Green Energy Market Securitization On-Bill Repayment Program (GEM), Illinois Solar For All Program, Massachusetts Solar Renewable Target Program, Massachusetts Solar Loan Support Program, Minnesota Xcel Energy’s Solar Rewards Program, New York Affordable Solar Program, California’s Low-Income Weatherization Program, and Washington D.C. Solar For All Program.
The government has really been prioritizing clean energy lately. The sun is a renewable source of energy that we can harness forever. It would make sense that the government would want homes to be transitioning to this source.
There have been barriers for citizens traditionally in obtaining this type of energy. The barriers of income can be a very powerful force that would dissuade a family from ever considering solar panels.
The above solutions can help to offset the costs and in turn, create a more sustainable future. The movement is to go away from fossil fuels, so people who help the cause are really aiding in a national and global movement. The homes will also have better resale value as the priorities continue to be that people would get into sustainable developments.
Ultimately, these grants, incentives, and loans can help to make a project happen that would never have been possible before, especially on a limited income.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, there are several government and private funded grants available to US homeowners for solar installation.
A solar PV system must be installed before December 31, 2019, to claim a 30% credit. It will decrease to 26% for systems installed in 2020 and to 22% for systems installed in 2021. And the tax credit expires starting in 2022 unless Congress renews it. There is no maximum amount that can be claimed.
Yes, many states offer solar rebates for home solar power systems
Yes, several states offer solar installation grants and rebates for low income households.