15 Terms to Help You Better Understand Solar Incentives and Rebates
California Solar Initiative (CSI) – Solar rebate program for California energy consumers and customers of investor-owned utilities (PG&E, SDG&E, SCE), which offers cash back for installing residential or commercial solar. The CSI helps California achieve its statewide clean energy standards.
EPBB Calculator – California Solar Initiative (CSI) expected performance based buydown (EPBB) calculator. The EPBB calculator allows you to estimate system performance and incentive amount of a solar electric system.
Federal Tax Credit (ITC) – The solar investment tax credit (ITC) is a 30% tax credit that you are allowed to claim in the form of a deduction from your income taxes (after any available rebates) off the overall gross system cost, including any upgrades or necessary work, such as re-roofing or main panel box upgrades in order to go solar. In 2016, the ITC was extended to 2021, at which time it will step down significantly.
Local Rebates – One-time incentives for homeowners installing solar, distributed through local jurisdictions such as a city or county. For example, San Francisco offers a local rebate.
Performance Based Incentive (PBI) – PBIs are incentives based on the energy production of a solar system. This compensation is based on the amount of energy (in kWh) a solar system produces over a given period of time.
Performance Data Provider (PDP) – PDPs are certified third parties, under the CSI, which monitor all of the systems receiving performance-based incentives.
Rebates – A one-time incentive for solar installations offered by utilities and/or government agencies.
Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) – Renewable Energy Certificates allow homeowners to sell back renewable energy generated to utilities who need a certain amount of renewable energy certificates to meet governmental regulations placed on them. Homeowners may store or accrue REC’s (1 REC = 1-megawatt hour = 1,000-kilowatt hours of energy) to trade or sell on the market. RECs incentivize carbon-neutral clean energy by providing monetary compensation.
Solar Incentives – including tax credits, etc. – Incentives provided to a homeowner or business installing solar by a government agency or utility in order to accelerate solar adoption.
State Rebates – Rebates paid by state governments to homeowners, which cover part of the total cost of solar projects. These rebates promote adoption of solar power, usually to achieve statewide standards for renewable energy.
Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs) – SRECs allow homeowners to sell back their solar power generated electricity to utilities who need a certain amount of renewable energy certificates to meet governmental regulations placed on them. Homeowners with solar powered homes may store or accrue SREC’s (1 SREC = 1-megawatt hour = 1,000-kilowatt hours of energy) to trade or sell on the market.
State Tax Credit – Tax credit provided by state governments for a solar project. The amount of this tax credit varies from state to state. These state tax credits allow the homeowner to deduct a portion of the cost of a solar system from their state tax bill.
Tax Credit – A direct dollar-for-dollar deduction off of your income taxes that you would normally pay to the federal government.
Tax Deduction – Deduction of taxable income.
Utility Rebates – Cash refunds utilities pay to homeowners to help promote the adoption of solar in order to meet their qualifications.