How to Use the Solar Calculator
The best way to learn about local rebates, your home’s energy potential, and your eventual return on investment is to use our ModSun Solar Cost Calculator (see above). Enter your home address in the box, then click Check My Roof. You’ll get an instant picture of your roof’s productivity, your average energy expenses, and installation costs in your area—whether you decide to buy or loan. We’ll also provide system size recommendations and information about rebates and incentives you may be eligible for. Just select More Info under each purchasing strategy to learn more, and then connect with a solar pro.
Solar Power in Maine
You’ve probably heard a lot about solar power in your state, Vacationland residents, but the truth is, solar is a growing industry throughout the entire U.S. Residents who adopt solar early stand to benefit from being early adopters, namely in the form of national and statewide incentives that can help offset the costs of purchasing and installing a new solar system.
However, in your state, getting a good picture of the incentives and offerings available will take some reading between the lines. This guide should provide you with a brief overview of how productive and affordable a new system would be in your area, to get you started down your solar journey.
Maine’s Solar Productivity
No, Maine doesn’t boost the same solar power as the southernmost states, but that doesn’t mean it’s not viable in your area. In fact, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a branch of the U.S. Department of Energy, sampled the solar energy potential of each state and found that the state receives an average 4.0 to 4.5 kilowatt hours of energy a day. In fact, with a UV index rate of 0.84, Maine has higher solar energy potential than more southern states like New York, Maryland and Delaware. That means that installing solar power on your Maine rooftop could be very useful, especially to help offset high heating costs in winter.
Popularity of Solar in Maine
Solar is still a growing business in Maine, but it’s growing fast. In 2015, solar power capacity grew by 86 percent—a significant jump. That puts the state 33rd in the U.S. for installed solar power, according to industry estimates. Still, there’s enough solar power installed in the state to keep the lights on in over 3,000 homes. So, while there’s lots of room to grow in the state for this burgeoning industry, you can bet that as solar becomes more mainstream, those numbers will grow rapidly indeed.
Average Maine Residential Electricity Use and Cost
The story of Maine’s energy consumption looks great on paper—with just over 4,000 million kilowatt hours of electricity used in 2014, the state ranks on the low side for energy consumption. However, the historical numbers show a slightly different story—Maine energy use has increased rapidly, particularly over the last 15 years, rising up an average 1,000 million kilowatt hours. That’s a 33 percent increase. Meanwhile, Mainers pay dearly for their electricity—at 15.5 cents per kilowatt hour, the average cost is well over the national average of 12 cents per kilowatt hour. That means residents in the state could truly benefit from a low-cost alternative to traditional fuel sources that are draining residents of their hard-earned dollars.
Installing Solar in Maine
There are only a handful of local solar installers based in Maine, and they’re mostly scattered across the southeastern part of the state. Meanwhile, if you live in Vacationland, you won’t be able to turn to national installers like Sungevity or Solar City—these businesses do not operate in your state.
Maine Solar Support
Solar power is, as of recently, a fraught issue amongst politicians within the state. As of this writing, the state legislature is in debate over the state’s net metering policy, which the governor just vetoed changes. Those issues represent a trend occurring across the nation, where legislatures are reconsidering net metering incentives. However that being said, solar power is still in its infancy in Maine, as it is throughout much of the country, and more options and panel efficiencies are driving costs overall.
That will make solar power a more effective and affordable alternative to traditional energy, and put more pressure on states and utilities to adopt measures making access easier, as well. And many of the objections to the new net metering legislation were due to the bill’s complication—so it’s possible that a compromise could be reached with a more streamlined version. At any rate, with solar power poised to take up a major portion of the energy market in the near future, this won’t be the last that you hear about solar incentives, and historically, the state has always taken a decidedly pro-solar slant. For instance, in 1997, the Efficiency Maine Trust was developed, a fund that helps pay for and support energy efficiency projects—including solar power installations throughout the state—using voluntary donations gathered from Maine Public Utilities Commission customers. That’s one way to send a clear message that solar is something you support in the Pine Tree State. The state also has a green power purchasing program, solar easements, and fuel mix disclosure measures, and is battling it out over a renewable energy portfolio that will set goals for how much energy is generated from renewable sources in the near future. Those laws that make it progressive, overall, in terms of energy legislation. So if you’re interested in installing solar power in your Maine home, the future still looks bright for you.
Maine Solar Incentives
Maine’s residential incentives are a little on the lighter side; however, you can still save a lot through existing state and national programs. Meanwhile, you’ll want to keep an eye out on local legislation as programs evolve—changes may be made, and soon, to the state’s solar programs.
Net Energy Billing: This is the name for Maine’s net metering policy, which, as stated before, currently has a somewhat unclear future. A directive issued by the state legislature late in 2015 mandated that the state find an alternative program to offer solar residents, so the information here is subject to change. However, as of this writing, public utilities must offer net metering, an incentive that measures an energy-producing home’s electricity generation against its usage, crediting those accounts for net excess energy. Those extra kilowatt hours are rated at $0.182 per kilowatt hour for the first year, and $0.337 over a 25-year period. Net excess generation credits can be carried over for a 12 month period, at which point, they are credited back to the utility.
Mainers can apply for a national tax credit, as well. The Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit is a federal tax incentive that rewards homeowners in the U.S. who install solar power on their properties with a generous 30 percent of system costs. To find out if your system qualifies, complete IRS form 5695 when you file your income taxes—note that your system will need to be large enough to encompass an average 50 percent or more of your home’s energy costs to receive the incentive.
Local Solar Incentives in Maine
Local utilities and governments offer a few incentives of their own to help residents afford the cost of solar power, and what they offer is very generous. Here is the most lucrative program on offer:
Property Assessed Clean Energy: In Maine, the legislature approved a local loan option, abbreviated as the PACE program, that authorizes municipal governments throughout the state to provide funding to homeowners for energy efficiency updates, including the installation of solar PV, solar water heating, and solar space heating. The program offers loan amounts between $1,500 and $6,000, with terms up to 15 years and a fixed interest rate of 4.99 percent. To see if you qualify, check with your local government most city governments in Maine comply.