Solar Panels are getting more and more popular in the US. While the government is offering tax credits and other incentives for buying solar panels, their high cost remains to be a barrier for many. Amidst all this, we are here to answer the question of how to get free solar panels in NJ. Yes, you heard that right. It might be possible after all. Keep reading to find out if can you get free home solar panels in New Jersey.
Can You Get Free Home Solar Panels in New Jersey?
Solar Panels are not just helping get people off the grid but are also helping us to reduce the use of non-renewable fuels. Solar panels are very important to the clean and green revolution and so governments are trying to popularize them. Not just that, but the government is also offering benefits to people that opt to buy solar panels. And, for people in New Jersey, this means getting a solar panel for free. It’s not possible to get free solar panels but you can take benefits of the incentives and rebates offered by the government.
How to Get Free Solar Panels in NJ
It turns out that free solar panel programs do not exist. If they do, then they are a way to advertise solar leases as well as PPAs. So, how to get free solar panels in NJ, if you ask, here’s your answer. It is not possible to get solar panels for free at least as far as New Jersey is concerned. At best, you can qualify for certain incentives, rebates, and tax credits and those are:
1. Federal Solar Tax Credit
Under this tax credit option, an NJ resident can receive a 30% rebate applied to their next federal tax return. If the solar panel that you end up purchasing costs 25,000 dollars then you can get a credit for 7,500 dollars on filing your taxes. However, the gull price needs to be paid upfront. For now, this provision has an end date of December 31st, 2032.
2. Solar Tax Incentive
In New Jersey, you aren’t charged any sales tax on material costs and installation of a PV system.
3. Net Metering
Under the net metering scheme, you can use extra solar energy as a credit on your next bill. It is a partial credit and most powerful companies in NJ allow homes and businesses to benefit from this scheme.
TRECs stand for transition renewable energy certificates. These are solar power rebates that homeowners and businesses receive for solar energy production. Homes are offered a rate of 91.20 dollars and businesses are offered 152 dollars per megawatt-hours. This rebate is set to expire in 2035.
5. Property Tax Incentive
This provision property taxes do not increase when you install solar panels. If you own the home then the property tax won’t increase from the value added by the installation of a solar panel system.
It is not just homeowners that benefit from such provisions, NJ also has certain incentives that take care of businesses and nonprofits and they are:
1. USDA REAP Grant
The Rural Energy for America Program from the United States Department of Agriculture helps agricultural producers to make the shift to renewable energy sources. They help them get loans for clean energy such as solar and more. These businesses just have to give their contact to USDA if they want to get their help.
Certain small rural businesses also qualify for this grant. You don’t negotiate for any funding all you have to do is supply your solar project plan to USDA and they will provide you with the available grant.
2. Federal Solar Credit Tax for Businesses
We learned that there is no way you can get a solar panel for free when we answered the question of how to get free solar panels in NJ. However, you can get a tax credit of 30% when you install a solar panel system at your business place and then file your tax returns. You can save a lot of money by doing so. The program will go on till 2032.
3. TRECs Commercial
As a business, you can create electricity and get paid for it. While a homeowner gets paid just 91.2 dollars per megawatt hour of energy, as a business you get paid 152 dollars for the same. Since a business supports more solar capacity, the TRECs can be accumulated quicker.
What is the NJ No Cost Solar Program?
So we saw above that you can’t get free solar panels for your home or business. This means there is no such thing as a no cost solar program in NJ. However, would you come across free solar panel programs on the internet? Yes. Why does that happen if there is no program? It happens because there is an alternative way of going solar for free. It is not wholly free but partially.
The idea of free solar panels in NJ is supposed to be a scam. This is a lead-generating scam from which solar leasing companies obtain your information. From there you are offered a solar panel against a lease or by signing a PPA and so in a way, it’s free since you don’t pay any upfront cost. However, you end up entering a contract in which you make monthly payments for the next 20 to 25 years.
Under a solar lease, you make monthly payments and in exchange, a solar company puts free solar panels on your roof. The electricity bill is then replaced by monthly lease payments. As for a PPA, you again get a solar panel for free but pay a monthly fee which increases every year, and again your electricity bill is out of the picture.
So free solar panels are just a way to advertise solar leases and PPAs in New Jersey. However, if you do fall for these and make up your mind to enter a contract, then make sure to:
1. Inquire about the brand of panels and inverters since the company might put up cheap quality material.
2. Read the terms and conditions of the contract nicely and calculate if you end up saving money in the long run or are just being scammed into paying exorbitant sums over the years.
3. Understand the fact that you are giving up your federal tax credit, available rebates, and any potential SREC income.
4. Understand that the solar panel on your roof is not your property. While you don’t have to pay their maintenance costs or repair charges you also have no ownership over them and so when the lease is over the panel goes back to the company.
Also Read: How to Start a Solar Farm in Georgia
What are New Jersey Solar Incentive Programs?
Under the said options as well the solar panels are free but not in the way you would expect. If you don’t want to sign up for a lease or PPA then you can look at some of these incentives and programs and choose from them.
1. Successor Solar Incentive Program
The SuSI program is more or less similar to the SREC program and so it is also known as SREC-II. Under this program, you are offered one energy credit for every mWh that your solar system generates. Under the SREC program, the payout rate may fluctuate but under this program, the rate is fixed at 90 dollars per credit. However, the program is open only for a limited number of applications.
2. Solar Energy Sales Tax Exemption
High-performing solar panels are pretty expensive but with New Jersey’s government sales tax exemption the installation cost can be brought down. The residents of New Jersey buying a solar power system are exempted from paying the 6.625% sales tax and so on a system that costs 21,000 dollars, you end up saving 1,391 dollars. However, this offer is only available on the ground mount or rooftop solar installations only.
Also Read: What are Solar Farm Requirements?
Does NJ have a Solar Panel Program?
Since we have found out the answer to the question of how to get free solar panels in NJ is signing up for a solar lease or PPA, our focus shifted a bit toward finding available rebates, incentives, or tax credits. It might be costlier to buy a panel upfront but you can always take a loan and buy a solar panel which is a better option than signing a solar lease or PPA.
So you might now ask us if does NJ have a solar panel program. And the answer is yes, NJ has not one or two but quite a few programs that can help you buy a solar panel for a more affordable price. Throughout this article, we have mentioned all such existing provisions and programs but to revise them we will summarize them one last time.
1. Under the Federal Tax Credit setup, you can get a 30% tax credit on your solar panel system bringing down its cost significantly.
2. SRECs or the SuSI program get you money in exchange for solar energy that you sell back to the grid. So over time, you can earn a significant sum doing so.
3. You get an exemption from sales as well as property tax. So you save 1,656.25 dollars on a system worth 25,000 dollars which you would pay if you were charged the 6.625% sales tax. Also, the value of your property increases because of a solar panel but this additional value is not considered when calculating your property tax.
4. Lastly, you can benefit from the net metering program. You can offset the cost of using the grid by earning credits for solar generation and using them when solar panels don’t produce enough.
So, while there are a few terms and conditions involved, it seems that NJ no cost solar program might make it possible to get solar panels for free. Honestly, we too didn’t think it would be possible to bag such useful devices for free. But it turns out that asking the question of how to get free solar panels in NJ has taught all of us something new and interesting about New Jersey.
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