Over the past month or so, three regulatory and financial developments have strengthened the investment viability for homeowners who go solar. I love lions, tigers and bears ... let's review the three solar life springs.
1. The 30% Federal Investment Tax Credit was, surprisingly, extended for four years. Originally set to expire at the end of 2016, the tax credit was extended thanks to a bit of horse-trading between Dems and Republicans in Congress. Via the Omnibus spending bill, Republicans were granted removal of the 40-year ban on exportation of domestic oil. Democrats received an extension of the solar tax credit. An all-of-the-above energy approach? Yes, but to the benefit of homeowners who repower with solar.
2. Today, the California Public Utilities Commission extended solar net-metering for PG&E (and the other two investor-owned utilities') ratepayers. This comes on the heels of the PUC grandfathering -- for 20 years -- net-metering for existing solar customers. Big deal? Yes. It is a continuation of compensating PG&E solar customers at the full retail rate. Doesn't get better. Here's a good overview of the PUC's decision.
3. Commencing January 1, 2016, PG&E raised residential electricity rates 8.7%. Across the board. Predictable but painful (for homeowners who do not have solar). But, higher rates increase the avoided cost -- what you would pay PG&E -- for solar homeowners, thus boosting their investment returns.
Importantly, extensions of the tax credit and net-metering programs temper the urgency to go solar. Homeowners we work with obviously want to monetize the tax credit and receive full value for their solar-generated electricity. They're locked. That said, the primary urgency in their decision is twofold: Do the right thing (for environmental reasons) and stop paying PG&E.
Please contact us if you would like to elaborate any or all of the above. Quite a trifecta in the solar world, and a great month for Yolo County homeowners.