Get up to $8,000 in solar panel incentives in Connecticut
Residents of Connecticut have some of the best home solar incentives in the country.
The state of Connecticut is one of the many states in America that have a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) that legally requires electric utilities to generate a target amount of their power from renewable sources, such as wind and solar.
Currently, the RPS goal is for 48% of electricity in the state to be generated by renewable sources by 2030. Most of that - 40% of the state’s overall electricity generation - is targeted to come from wind, solar, geothermal, small hydro, and landfill gas.
The remaining 8% will come from other relatively green sources, such as industrial waste recovery and (controversially) waste-to-energy facilities.
To help meet this significant RPS target, the Connecticut Green Bank was established by the Connecticut General Assembly in 2011. The Bank operates the GoSolarCT program to help make solar energy more affordable in Connecticut.
Solar incentives from GoSolarCT
The Residential Solar Investment Program from GoSolarCT provides significant rebates on the purchase or lease of a solar photovoltaic system. The two types of rebates are described here:
GoSolarCT rebates for a system purchase
The incentive for a system purchase is called the Expected Performance-Based Buydown (EPBB).
If you choose to purchase your system, the rebate will depend on the size of your system in kilowatts:
|System size||Incentive per watt|
|up to 10 kilowatts (PTC/CEC rating)||$0.463 per watt (PTC/CEC)|
|10 to 20 kilowatts (PTC/CEC rating)||$0.40 per watt (PTC/CEC)|
This means that you can receive a maximum rebate of $8,000 if you install the maximum system size.
Most homeowners don’t install systems that large. 6 kW is a pretty typical size, and with that you would get an incentive of $2,778.
What is a PTC watt?
An important detail is that the rebate is specified as the solar panel’s PTC rating and not its nameplate rating. This means that if you install a 6 kilowatt system, your rebate won’t be based on 6,000 watts, but the lower PTC rating - probably around 5,400 watts.
The nameplate rating, also called the STC (standard test conditions) rating is what a solar panel advertised as. The PTC (PVUSA Test Conditions) rating is a more realistic power rating for the panel that will give you a better expectation of how the panel will perform in the real world.
The PTC standard is the same as the California Energy Commission (CEC) standard, so on the datasheet for your solar panel may list either a PTC or CEC rating - but sometimes neither.
To look up the PTC/CEC rating for your solar panel, visit the Go Solar California website for their database of approved PV modules.
Still confused by these acronyms? I don’t blame you. My guide on solar panel specifications will help you make sense of them.
How much does the PTC rating differ from the nameplate rating?
The PTC rating is always lower than the nameplate (STC) rating because it’s a more severe test. How much lower depends on the ability of the solar panel to tolerate higher temperatures. If you look at the PTC ratings from the most popular solar manufacturers today, you’ll see an average difference of about 10%. This means that if a solar panel has a nameplate rating of 350 watt, on average you can expect the PTC rating to be about 90% of that, or 315 watts.
The Solar Nerd calculator uses 90% as an average PTC rating to estimate your GoSolarCT rebate.
GoSolarCT rebates for a lease or PPA
If you are not purchasing your system but instead using a lease or power purchase agreement (PPA), there is a different incentive available called the Performance-Based Incentive (PBI).
|System size||Incentive per kWh|
|up to 20 kilowatts (PTC/CEC rating)||$0.035 per kilowatt-hour for six years|
Note that the payment isn’t based on the system size, but how much electricity you produce. But how will you know how much that is?
Many homeowners ask their installer to design a system that generates 100% of their electricity usage. You can look up your usage on your electric bill, but as an example, the average home in Connecticut uses 690 kWh per month, or 8,280 kWh per year. (If you want to do that calculation yourself, enter in your zip code and roof details into The Solar Nerd calculator. It’ll tell you how many solar panels you need based on your climate and roof orientation.)
If your system generates 8,280 kWh per year, that’s an incentive of $289.80 every year. The incentive will be paid for six years, so that will mean a total incentive of $1,738.80.
That’s a pretty good incentive, but depending on your system size, you may get a much larger incentive if you purchase your system outright.
There are pros and cons between purchasing your system and using a lease or PPA. It gets a little complicated, but I wrote a guide to solar financing that explains everything you need to know.
How are the incentives paid out?
Your contractor will assist with the paperwork for the incentive.
For the EPBB incentive, the rebate will be paid out after the system is installed and the required inspections have passed. Be sure to discuss these details with your contractor.
If you are using a lease or PBB and getting the PBI incentive, your rebate payment will be made quarterly for six years. A special revenue-grade production meter will be installed in your home, which will allow GoSolarCT to monitor your electricity generation automatically. You won’t need to report your power production manually.
There are a few important eligibility requirements for these incentives:
- Must use an approved contractor.
- Must be in the United Illuminating and Eversource Energy (Eversource) service territories. Other utility service areas are not eligible.
- Home energy audit. You must get a Home Energy Solutions or equivalent energy audit performed on your home, which will cost around $179. There a few ways to get an exemption for this: if your home was Energy Star certified in 2005 or later, or has a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) rating of 85 or lower, you don’t need the audit. You can also apply for an exemption if the audit can’t be performed for health and safety reasons, such as the presence of mold or asbestos.
- Must be an owner-occupied one to four family home. Investment properties, buildings larger than 5 family, and mobile homes do not qualify.
- Grid-tied systems only. Off-grid systems do not qualify.
There are other requirements as well. To ensure that you work with an eligible contractor who will meet the program requirements, you can use The Solar Nerd to get up to three solar quotes from local installers.
Poor system design will reduce your incentive
GoSolarCT has an additional factor in calculating your rebate, which is known as the Design Factor.
The actual calculation isn’t published, but GoSolarCT states that the Design Factor takes into account the tilt, orientation, and shading on your proposed system. Basically, they want to make sure that you don’t install a photovoltaic system that doesn’t end up performing efficiently.
Shading will be the biggest factor in determining if your system is efficient. If you have shadows from neighboring trees or buildings that cover your solar panels during any part of the day, this can have a major impact on the performance of your system.
Shading is one of the options you can experiment with in The Solar Nerd pricing calculator. When you specify that you have partial or major shading on your system, the calculator will show you that your power output will be seriously affected.
For the EPBB (purchased system) rebate, GoSolarCT states that an efficiency rating below 75% will mean result in a reduced rebate.
If you are financing your system with a lease or PPA, an efficiency rating below 60% will disqualify you for a rebate. In many cases, however, that will be a moot point, because most solar installers won’t provide a lease or PPA for a system with severe shading issues.
How long will the incentive be available?
The program funding for this incentive isn’t unlimited. It will end when a total of 300 MW of solar has been installed. At the moment, 256 MW have been installed, so time is running out. You can get the current program status here.
How do I apply?
Your solar installer will work with you on the paperwork and make sure that all documentation requirements have been met.
Recapping all those acronyms
That was an unusual number of organizations and acronyms. To recap, here’s what they are:
- The Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) in CT is a goal to have 48% of the state’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030.
- The Connecticut Green Bank is a bank established by the Connecticut General Assembly to help meet that state’s clean energy goals.
- GoSolarCT is the name of the program operated by the Connecticut Green Bank that provides solar incentives in the state to help meet the RPS.
- Expected Performance-Based Buydown (EPBB) is the incentive from GoSolarCT if you are purchasing your solar panel system.
- Performance-Based Incentive (PBI) is the incentive from GoSolarCT for those who are using a lease or PPA to acquire their solar panels.
- PVUSA Test Conditions (PTC) is a solar panel test standard that gives a more realistic representation how a solar panel will operate. It is identical to the California Energy Commission (CEC) test standard.