solar panels washington



Washington State is called the Evergreen state. Known for its coffee and rainy days, most people would assume that the Pacific Northwest was not a good place to have solar panels installed on their home. The truth is, through, that it is only Western Washington that is fraught with terminal rain. Divided in two by the Cascade Mountain Range, the eastern half of Washington is a desert land and perfect for homeowners who want to save money on their utility bill by installing solar panels.

That’s not to say that western Washingtonians are out of luck. Even though it rains a lot, western Washington does get enough sun to justify installing solar panels. According to the Western Regional Climate Center, western Washington gets about 25% sun shine in the winter and 60% sun shine in the summer.

In fact, Washington has unwittingly become home to some of the nation’s leaders in photovoltaic technology and offers generous tax incentives on the manufacturing of the components that make up solar panels. A 2005 Senate bill 5111 reduced the tax rate for manufacturers and wholesale marketers of solar electric modules or silicon parts of those systems to 0.484%. In May 2009, Bill SB6170 further reduced the rate to 0.275% which went into effect October 1, 2009.

But while manufacturers are getting a pretty good deal for producing products for solar panels, some Washington residents are finding that incentives for buying solar products aren’t that great. In fact, unlike other states such as Delaware or Louisiana, Washington does not provide any type of tax rebate for the purchase or installation of solar panels.

They do, however, participate in net metering. When a home with solar panels produces more electricity than the home uses, the homeowner can sell the excess to the electric company at one of three incentive levels. Homeowners with systems that have inverters which were manufactured in Washington can earn $0.15 per kWh contributed to the grid. If the solar modules were made in the state, then a rate of $0.36 per kWh is credited to the bill. Residents with systems whose inverter and modules were made in Washington get paid the highest at $0.54 per kWh.

Unfortunately, there is a cap of $2,000 that can be earned in a year. But in this time of rising energy prices, every little bit helps. Additionally, residents still qualify for the federal tax incentive of a 30% rebate on the solar panels they buy.

Washington residents with solar panels can also earn money through a unique program offered by the Northwest Solar Coop. The coop actively sells Greentags or Renewable Energy Certificates which are tradable commodities. Members of the coop are paid anywhere from $0.02 to $0.10 per kWh depending on market prices. To be eligible for this program, you must reside in Oregon, Washington, Idaho or Montana, you must have a solar photovoltaic system that is tied to the grid and it can only be 50kWh or less in size.

While not as generous as other states, Washington does provide some monetary incentives for buying solar panels. If Washington residents want better tax rebates, however, they're going to have to contact their legislature and demand them.


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