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Is solar right for you?

Installing a solar system on your property may make sense if you own your home or business and want to make a long-term investment in solar.  A solar installer will be able to analyze your property to determine an appropriate size and location.  Solar systems are available for purchase or lease.  If you plan to lease, make sure to review the terms and conditions of the agreement.

10 Things to Consider Before You Go Solar


Solar Economics - Estimated PayBack

Calculating the payback on an investment in solar depends on a number of variables:

  • Solar system size (i.e. number of panels)
  • Equipment maintenance costs
  • Location of solar panels
  • Installation costs
  • Federal incentives
  • State incentives
  • Future energy rates
  • Inflation

For example, the payback for a 7kW system (which takes up about 300 sqft of space) with 15% capacity factor at a cost of $4.00 per watt installed is 7.1 years.  This assumes the system is installed in 2018, is eligible to receive both the state incentive (for eight years) and federal investment tax credit and has an estimated 25 year life.  The chart below shows estimated cash flow and value of a system over its 25 year life.
 

Solar-Incentive-Payback

DISCLAIMER:  The estimate above shows a simple payback period (number of years to recover the initial investment) and the percentage offset of an average residential customer’s annual energy consumption.  BENTON PUD IN NO WAY GUARANTEES THE FIGURES DISPLAYED ABOVE.


Residential & Commercial Solar Incentives

In July 2017, a new Washington State Renewable Energy System Incentive Program was adopted. Projects certified by the Washington State University's Energy Office are eligible for incentives for eight fiscal years, or until the cumulative incentive reaches 50 percent of the total system price, whichever occurs first. 

Incentives are based on the fiscal year in which the system is certified:

Residential Scale (up to 12kW)  – Incentive capped at $5,000 annually
2018 - $0.16/kWh, with a $0.05 Made-in-Washington solar panels bonus
2019 - $0.14/kWh, with a $0.04 Made-in-Washington solar panels bonus
2020 - $0.12/kWh, with a $0.03 Made-in-Washington solar panels bonus
2021 - $0.10/kWh, with a $0.02 Made-in-Washington solar panels bonus

Commercial Scale (12kW and up) – Incentives capped at $25,000 annually
2018 - $0.06/kWh, with a $0.05 Made-in-Washington solar panels bonus
2019 - $0.04/kWh, with a $0.04 Made-in-Washington solar panels bonus
2020 - $0.02/kWh, with a $0.03 Made-in-Washington solar panels bonus
2021 - $0.02/kWh, with a $0.02 Made-in-Washington solar panels bonus

Note:  Washington State's fiscal year runs from July 1 - June 30 (i.e. 2018 incentives are issued for generation produced from July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018).

In addition, customers that install solar panels will receive a credit on their monthly bill based on the production of their system. The bill credit amount is subject to the rules of the Net Metering of Electricity program.

A federal Renewable Energy Tax Credit may be available. For more information, please contact your tax consultant to see if you are eligible to claim a credit on your federal income taxes.

Note: Participants who enrolled in a residential solar incentive prior to July 1, 2017 will need to submit an application to the Washington State University Energy Program prior to April 30, 2018 to remain eligible to receive an incentive through June 2020.


Benton PUD's Net Metering Program

Benton PUD's Net Metering program lets you install a renewable energy system (solar panels or windmill) to offset your energy needs.  You receive full retail rate credit each month for generation from your system.  Excess generation at the end of each bill period is carried over to the next bill period as a credit.  On April 30 of each year, any excess generation accumulated is given back to Benton PUD.

Net-Metering
 

Enrolling in Benton PUD's Net Metering Program

When installing solar panels, please follow these steps to enroll in our net metering program. 

Note:  Please consult Benton PUD for systems over 100 kW.

  1. Contact a solar installer- make sure they are properly licensed, bonded and have experience interconnecting systems in Washington State. 
  2. Complete and submit the following:
    1. Net Metering Application
    2. Net Metering Agreement.  See Benton PUD Net Metering Interconnection Standards
    3. Electrical schematic drawing.  See sample Benton PUD Electrical schematic drawing
    4. Verification that your inverter is UL1741 listed
  3. Submit a Net Metering Certificate of Completion to Benton PUD.  To obtain a Net Metering Certificate of Completion you must have an inspection completed by both Benton PUD and Washington State Labor & Industries.  Once completed, Benton PUD will schedule the installation of a bi-directional meter on the main electric service and a production meter on the solar system.

Note:  To be eligible to receive a state production incentive you will need to complete and submit a Renewable Energy System Cost Recovery Certification to the Washington State University Energy Program.  You will be required to provide the following technical information about your system including tilt, shading and azimuth.  In addition, you will have to supply supporting documentation including a copy of the signed interconnection agreement, one-line schematic drawing, final electrical inspection documentation and final invoice with total cost paid for the renewable energy system. Your contractor will be able to assist in the certification process. When completing the certification, please request that Benton PUD receive a copy.

If you have any questions during your enrollment process contact Engineering at (509) 582-1230.