Idaho solar 101: must read before you buy solar panels
Benefit from a PV system
5.15 peak sun hours
Solar panels in Idaho give a good energy harvest over the year
3 years payback time
A solar power system in Idaho pays for itself a couple of times during its lifespan
Save up to $20,000 of your income from taxation
PV system cost in Idaho can be fully deducted from taxable income in 4 years
Increase your purchasing power with solar loans at 4% interest rate
Get up to $15,000 for a home solar system and pay it back in 15 years
Gain credits with Net Metering program
Sell your solar energy into the grid and never pay electric bills again
Idaho #18 in the US
- $44 882/year Average savings from going solar in Idaho
- 11 388 kWh/year Average electricity consumption of a FL household
- 7 932 kWh/year AC energy output of a 5 kW solar system installed in Idaho
- 10 ¢ /kWh The cost of electricity today in Idaho
- 21 ¢ /kWh The forecast average utility price over the next 25 years
- $0.64/WAverage gross price of a solar power system as of May 2021
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Solar laws, incentives and rebates in Idaho you need to know
Save 26% of your PV system cost with Federal Solar Tax Credit
The main solar incentive that works across all United States is the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) program. By applying to this program, all Americans can deduct 26% of the total cost of their installation from the income tax. The PV system cost doesn’t amount to only how much you’ve spent on your solar panels, but includes the shipping and installation as well. To claim the ITC, complete all the necessary forms and submit them when filing your taxes. It makes sense to hurry up: in 2023 the Tax credit decreases to 22% and after that it’s 10% for commercial systems only.
Save from taxation up to $20,000 of your income spent on solar
Idaho citizens can make use not only of the ITC program, but of the State Tax Credit program as well. You can deduct 40% of your solar system cost (shipping and installation included) from the taxable income you got in the year of installation. Then you can keep deducting 20% of its cost for 3 succeeding years. The deduction, however, should not exceed $5,000 per year. Overall, this Idaho solar incentive allows you to save up to $20,000 of your salary from taxation. You claim the deduction when you file your income taxes. Find all necessary forms here. Idaho residents fill in Form 39R (look for “5. Alternative energy device deduction” in the Subtractions section) and then Form 40. Non-residents take Form 39NR and Form 43 afterwards.
Join Net Metering program to cover your electric bills
The essence of the Net Metering program is the same across all the US. You sell the excess energy that your system generates into the commercial grid and gain credits to pay your own bills. However, in Idaho there is not a statewide policy for Net Metering: three main electric companies have different programs which they accord with the Idaho Public Utilities Commission.
- Rocky Mountain Power sets the system capacity limit at 25 kW for residential customers and small commercial installations, and at 100 kW for others. Net excess generation (NEG) is credited at a retail rate for the owners of residential and small commercial systems. For others, NEG is credited at 85% of the non-firm energy rate. Credits can be carried over to the following month.
- Avista Utilities program has a system capacity limit of 100 kW. NEG is credited at a retail rate, but all the unused credits go back to the utility at the end of the year without any compensation.
- Idaho Power sets the bar at 25 kW for residential and small commercial systems, and 100 kW for other clients. NEG is credited to the customer's next bill as a per kWh credit and carried forward indefinitely.
The Net Metering program is the main way to make money with your solar system. However, before joining in, you should contact your electric supplier for the latest rates and conditions.
Commercial solar is free from property tax, but there is production tax
Commercial solar systems are exempt from property tax in Idaho: their cost is not included in the tax assessment. Instead, there is a production tax: solar energy producers pay 3.5% of gross energy earnings to the state. This makes taxes more gentle for small solar farms. The incentive applies only to commercial solar and doesn’t extend to residential systems.
Go solar easily with Low-Interest Energy Loan Programs
If you want to go solar, but aren’t ready for it financially, consider the Low-Interest Energy Loan program by the Idaho Governor's Office of Energy Resources. The maximum size of a loan is $15,000 for residential installations and $100,000 for others. They are issued for 5 years at a 4% interest rate, plus there is a $100 fee for home projects and a $250 fee for commercial ones. Loans are secured with real property or equipment and you get the money once your project is fully examined. Check a complete guide on applying here.
Solar easements help to settle debates with neighbors
Once you get the permit, it is legal to install solar panels on your house in Idaho. The Idaho solar law claims that your neighbors can't prohibit or limit you from going solar. However, they can impose reasonable rules about the appearance of panels. Plus Idaho citizens are welcomed to voluntarily create solar easements to settle debates. An easement contract is designed to ensure the adequate exposure of a system to the sun. For example, if a tree in your neighbors’ yard has grown so high that it starts to overshadow your panels, the neighbors have to trim it.
Get a permit to install solar panels in Idaho
The process of getting a permit for installing a solar system in Idaho may seem rather long. You’ll have to purchase an electrical permit, prepare a plan for your system, pay all the fees and schedule an inspection. Fortunately, all the information about it was made accessible and every step is explained in detail here by the state officials. Most of the time you can rely on your installer to learn all about getting a permit and you should work together to acquire all the necessary papers.