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A 2023 Guide to Solar Incentives in Georgia (Rebates, Tax Credits, Saving Potential)

Solar is an expensive product, with prices ranging from $15,000 to more than $40,000. This upfront cost is one of the many reasons homeowners struggle with the switch to solar. But what if the upfront cost could be reduced?

Yes, it can happen, thanks to a few solar incentives in Georgia. Generally, solar prices are lower in the Peach State as compared to the national average. A resident of Georgia pays, on average, around $2.5 per watt for solar installation, while our national average stands at $2.94. But this is the price before claiming any incentives—once you claim the incentives, the upfront cost could practically become less than $2/watt.

So, what are some of the top solar incentives in Georgia?

Solar incentives in Georgia

Below is a snapshot of a few solar incentives most homeowners can qualify for in Georgia.

Federal Income Tax Credit

The Federal Income Tax Credit (ITC) is an excellent initiative by the federal government. It is a 30% dollar-for-dollar tax break on personal income that homeowners can businesses can claim upon solar installations. You will apply for the incentive when you install a solar PV system. But you will not be directly paid in cash. Instead, at the time of filing your tax returns, you won’t pay the income tax adjusted against the cost of your solar installation that year.

For example, installing a 10 kW system may cost you around $30,000. After claiming the ITC, which will be $9,000 in your case, your upfront cost becomes $21,000. You will pay $9,000 less income tax the year you go solar. But what if your tax liabilities are less than your tax credit?

In that case, you can carry the credit forward. And to the next tax year if the tax break still doesn’t match the tax you owe. The ITC covers all the equipment required for solar installation. It also covers inspection costs, labor costs, and permitting costs. Lastly, there is no cap on the maximum amount you can claim—no matter the size and cost of your system, you will get a 30% tax credit.

If you want to know more about the qualifying expenses, eligibility criteria, and more, we have got you covered in our comprehensive guide on the Income Tax Credit.

Net metering policy in Georgia

Net metering is a billing arrangement that allows homeowners and businesses who generate their own electricity from solar to sell excess electricity back to the grid. This excess electricity is credited to the homeowner or business’s account and can be used to offset the cost of electricity purchased from the grid at times when their solar panels are not producing enough electricity to meet their needs.

Many states across the United States require utility companies to offer net metering programs to their customers. In Georgia, however, Georgia Public Service Commission (GPSC) does not mandate net metering, giving leeway to the utility companies to either offer it or not. Will your utility company import energy from you depends on its net metering policy. Some utilities started offering net metering on a limited scale, but the project was soon shelved due to the cap placed on the maximum solar buyback.

For example, in 2019, the Georgia Public Service Commission directed Georgia Power to offer the net metering program to its consumer, with monthly netting to 5,000 solar customers or 32 MW, whichever comes first. Considering a large number of solar homes under Georgia Power, this limit was reached in 2021. Currently, they do not accept any new entries, meaning that Georgia has no active net metering policy as of December 2022.

Given the positive impact of net metering, solar advocates are moving the state government to offer a net metering program. Nothing could be said with certainty, but we may see the policy getting a life in 2023.  

Did you know?

In 2008, Georgia had 0.1 MW solar power installed. In 2022, with over 4,570 MW solar installed, solar accounts for 5.6% of state’s electricity demand.

Source: Interstate Renewable Energy Council/SEIA

Does Georgia offer property tax exemption for solar?

Unfortunately, Georgia does not offer property tax exemption for solar photovoltaic systems.

Solar power adds value to your home. As per the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, installing solar increases your property’s value by around 4%. This means an increase in your property taxes. Some states have exempted the tax incurred by property owners due to the additional property value. But at the moment, there is no such program available in Georgia.

Sales tax exemption works similarly to property tax exemption. You are exempted from paying the sales tax when you buy solar panels. But as of December 2022, there is no such program in place in the state of Georgia.

Local solar rebates in Georgia

The state government may not offer many incentives, but there are some local solar incentives you may be eligible for.

For instance, Jackson EMC offers its customers a $250 rebate on every kilowatt-hour of solar power installed. The maximum system size is 10 kW. If your system is more than 10 kW, you can get not more than $2,500, as the maximum value is capped at $2,500. To qualify for the incentives, the “installation contractors must be North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) certified PV Installation Professionals. Metering, energy billing, and credit must meet Jackson EMC’s Distributed Generation Interconnection Procedure installation guidelines and Net Metering Rider requirements,” notes DSIRE.

How much can you save with solar in Georgia?

Let’s look at the picture of solar incentives. It appears that there are only a couple of solar incentives in Georgia, implying that the cost of going solar may be higher in Georgia compared to other states. But luckily, that is not the case.

One, thanks to solar competition in the state—there are around 230 solar companies in Georgia—and plenty of sunshine, solar is more affordable with a sizable saving potential. As discussed at the outset, the cost of going solar is much below the national average—around $2.55/watt before claiming the Federal Investment Tax Credit.

Secondly, the rate of electricity is also higher in Georgia than the national average. Our national average is $2,318, while in Georgia, the average electricity bill is $2,652 per year, 14% more than the national average. Based on this, let’s calculate the system requirement and saving potential.

A typical Georgian household consumes around 1500 kilowatt-hours a month. The number of peak sunlight hours, if we take the average of both summer and winter, is 4.75 hours a day. If we are going to install 300-watt solar panels, we would need 35 solar panels (multiply 35 by 300, and our system becomes 10.5 kW).

To fully offset their annual electricity consumption, a typical household would need an 11 kW system, with a price tag of $28,050 (11,000 x 2.55 = $28,050).

Apply the ITC, and the cost becomes $19,365. Divide this by what you pay to the grid per year, and it turns out to be about eight years. This is your solar payback period—your system would pay for itself within 8 years. We have not factored in the rising electricity costs in our calculations—if we do that, the payback period could be even lower.

Some households would consume less annual electricity. Consequently, they would need a smaller system. But whether a larger or small system, the payback period would hover around 8.

To sum up, while there may not be too many ‘exciting’ solar incentives in Georgia, solar power in itself is a huge incentive! You could save up to 35% upfront on going solar and up to $25,000 over the course of your system’s lifespan.

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