Is there such thing as a free solar system paid for by the government? The short answer is NO!
By now, you’ve likely seen ads that claim you can go solar for free with help from the government. The ads are typically a scam to collect personal information or to get you to initially make contact with a company. Depending on the electric company you use, there may or may not be incentives available. Right now, there is a federal tax credit available, which is 30%, but you have to carry a tax liability in order to take it.
There are two utility companies that serve Southern Oregon. The City of Ashland and Pacific Power. Both have different incentives. As of June 2023, the City of Ashland incentive is $600 with a roof that qualifies. Pacific Power offers two different incentives. The regular incentive is $450, and the income qualifying incentive is called Solar Within Reach, which you read more about if you click on the link.
Recently, the Oregon Department of Energy also had a regular and income-qualifying incentive, which as of today are not available. It’s possible that in the future, the incentive could return, but we never know when and if that will happen, or how much it will be. Many of the incentives depend on our state legislature.
The Federal Tax Credit is 30% of the cost of the system, after any incentives are taken off. For example, if your system cost is $25,000 and you receive the City of Ashland incentive for $600, it brings the total cost to $24,400. 30% of $24,400 is $7,320.00. To claim the tax credit you must carry a tax liability, and you can take it over the next 5 years after installing the system. We always refer clients to their tax advisors if they have any further questions about how to file this.
As of now, there are no further incentives or tax credits for City of Ashland or Pacific Power.
How To Avoid Solar Scams
The best way to avoid these types of scams is not click on them or contact any company claiming to offer free solar. Always get at least 2 quotes, from a local, trusted company. True South Solar has been in business in Ashland for the last 13 years. You will never see us run one of these ads. Another sign of a scam could be if a company is trying to pressure you into signing a contact, or stating that something like an incentive is going to run out unless you sign on the dotted line today. At True South we take pride in a no pressure sales attitude and take the time to inform and educate our clients about solar, our company and what they are getting when they pay for our business.
The cost of a solar electric system really varies from household to household. It does not depend on the size of house you have, but rather the amount of energy that you and your family use. Once we can see your electric bill showing your yearly power usage we can then compare how many panels you would need to the available space on your roof, to size your system. In order to figure this out, you will need to have a personal consultation with a solar advisor.
Here is a list of questions to ask your solar advisor before you sign a contract.
Does your company install the solar panels?
Solar companies come in various forms. Som just sell the job and hand it off to an EPC (Engineering, Procurement, and Contracting) company. When problems arise in the installation, it can be difficult to get resolution as the companies blame each other for problems and hope someone else will deal with it. True South Solar is responsible for the entire process, from sales through permitting, installation and service. We only use subcontractors for occasional tasks like digging trenches.
What warranties do you offer for the equipment and the installation?
Solar installation companies do not manufacture panels, so the panels have their own warranty. Ask about the warranty for the product as well as the energy production guarantee. Sometimes an inverter will stop working do to a manufacturing defect and that should be covered for at least 10 years. Today’s solar panels should also have a 25 year energy production guarantee. Because of their exposure, all panels degrade over time, but you should have a guarantee of how much energy each panel produces for at least 25 years.
Will I get a copy of the contract?
Make sure you keep all paperwork and make sure you have a copy of the contract signed by both parties. Unfortunately, you might need it down the road.
Who manufactures the solar panels?
We offer high-quality solar panels and stand behind these products because we have installed them for years and understand the value they provide. Not all solar panels are created equally, so make sure to ask about this. We are happy to explain the difference between our panels and the ones sold by our competitors.
How long has your company been in business?
You will want to know about the company’s track record. We are a locally-owned and profitable business, so we understand and appreciate the entrepreneurial spirit, but you should know as much as you can learn about the company. Ask for references, especially if it is a new company. True South Solar has been in business since 2010, serving Southern Oregon exclusively.
When can I expect the system to be installed?
We hear stories of solar companies, especially the ones that do not do the installations but rely on EPCs, have a lengthy time gap between contract signing and installation. We advise our clients that it generally takes at least 6 weeks because of the design and permitting time lag. EPCs that offer installations nation-wide take longer to get to you, leaving a pile of solar panels in your driveway for months on end.
If you have more questions about going solar, please give us a call today. We will set up a free, no obligation consultation with one of our solar advisors. They will answer any questions you have about the process.