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 Buying Guide for Baltimore, Maryland
Looking to decrease your monthly energy bills and reduce your carbon footprint? With an average of 213 sunny days a year in Baltimore, solar power may be the answer for you. As the solar industry has expanded, manufacturing has become less expensive and knowledgeable solar installers are easier to find, increasing the competitiveness of the market. In Maryland there are currently 182 solar companies, employing 4,300 people. The state has also laid the groundwork for extensive growth in solar installations with favorable legislations and generous financial incentives that make it simple and budget-friendly to adopt solar. Maryland currently has 349 MW of solar energy installed–making Maryland 13th in the country in terms of solar capacity. There is currently enough solar power being generated in Maryland to power 38,000 homes, so why not yours?
Can a Solar Power System Stand Up to Baltimore Weather?
Absolutely. While Baltimore does experience more rain than the national average, 42 inches compared to 37 nationally, UV rays can still reach your solar electric system during the rain. Also, because of the way that most solar panels are installed at a slant, all of this rainwater will ensure give your panels a good cleaning, ensuring that they can best absorb the sun’s rays.
When it comes to winter, Baltimore averages 21 inches of snowfall a year. As long as the snowfall on your panels is light, your system will continue working. In fact, the bright white snow on your roof and on the ground may make your system operate at a higher level because of how it reflects the sun’s light. If snowfall becomes too heavy though and completely covers your panels, your system will stop working. In that case, you’ll need to rely on traditional energy from your utility company, batteries, or a back-up generator. Light snow won’t hurt your panels, and just like rain, as it melts and slides off it can help clean your panels. If snowfall is heavy though, you’ll want to get a roof rake and remove the snow to get your system up and working again and to alleviate the stress on your panels from excess weight of snow and ice. Exercise caution and perhaps consult a professional before removing snow from your panels as working on your roof in such slick conditions can be quite dangerous.
Baltimore also experiences about 108 partly-cloudy days a year. Not to worry though, as studies have shown that even consecutive days of cloudy weather only diminish your system’s capacity by 5-10 percent.
Is Residential Solar Permitted Throughout Baltimore?
Yes. Maryland protects the rights of solar energy system owners through its Solar Easements & Rights Law. The original law prohibited restrictive land use covenants that imposed unreasonable limitations on the installation of solar collection panels on the roof or exterior walls of improvements. The only exception is on historic property that is listed by the Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties or by the Maryland Register of Historic Properties.
The Maryland Real Property Code was amended in April 2008 by H.B. 117 to prohibit restrictions that act to significantly increase the cost of a solar power system or significantly decrease its efficiency. The definition of “restrictions on use” includes any covenant, restriction, or condition contained in a deed, declaration, contract, bylaws of a homeowners or condominium association, security instrument, and any other instrument affecting the transfer or sale of real property or interest in real property. The only condition for this protection is that the owner own or have rights for the exclusive use of the roof or exterior walls of a structure.
Are There Financial Incentives to Adopt Solar in Baltimore?
Maryland has a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) that requires 20 percent of the state’s energy to come from renewable resources by 2020. A minimum of 2 percent of the state’s energy must come from solar power by 2020, as well. This ambitious RPS means that the state and local utilities are highly motivated to help homeowners adopt solar in order to meet their goals. There are numerous financial incentives available at the state and federal level in order to make solar power accessible to all homeowners including:
Federal Tax Credit: Taxpayers that install a solar power system in their home are eligible for a 30 percent tax credit. If the credit exceeds their tax liability for the year the solar power system is installed, the credit can be carried over to the next tax year. This credit is available through December 31, 2019. The credit will be available after 2019, but the amount of the credit decreases significantly with each passing year after 2019.
Net Metering: Maryland’s net-metering law has been expanded several times since it was originally enacted in 1997. In its current form, the rules apply to all utilities — investor-owned utilities (IOUs), electric cooperatives and municipal utilities. Residents with systems that generate electricity using solar are eligible for net metering. The law permits outright ownership by the customer-generators as well as third-party ownership structures (e.g., leases and power purchase agreements).
There are some unique components to Maryland’s net metering system. For instance, net metering is available statewide until the aggregate capacity of all net-metered systems reaches 1,500 MW. This limit was approximately 10% of the peak demand in 2014. Additionally, system size is generally limited to 2 MW, except micro-CHP resources are limited to 30 kilowatts (kW). Systems must be primarily intended to offset all or a portion of a customer’s on-site energy requirements and are limited in size to that needed to meet 200% of the customer’s baseline annual electricity use. Net excess generation (NEG) is generally carried over as a kilowatt-hour credit (i.e., at the retail rate) for 12 months. Compensation for any NEG remaining in a customer’s account after a 12-month period ending in April of each year is paid to the customer at the commodity energy supply rate. Finally, customers own and have title to all renewable-energy credits (REC) associated with electricity generation by net-metered systems.
Property Tax Credit for Renewables and Energy Conservation Devices: Title 9 of Maryland’s property tax code provides local governments the option to allow a property tax credit for buildings equipped with a solar, geothermal or qualifying energy conservation device. Baltimore County includes solar and geothermal power. These devices may be used to heat or cool the structure, to generate electricity to be used in the structure, or to provide hot water for use in the structure.
Maryland’s local option tax incentive is unique because it is applied in the form of a credit — not an exemption or exclusion as in the case of many other property tax programs. NOTE: For Baltimore County, the allocated budget for this tax credit has been met. There is currently a waiting list and all new applicants will be placed on a waiting list. When available, the amount of the property tax credit is set at the lesser of 50 percent of the cost of the system or $5,000 for heating devices and $1,500 for devices which supply hot water. More information and instructions on how to apply are available through the Office of Budget and Finance’s Energy Conservation Devices Tax Credit Web page. Applicants should be prepared to include the Baltimore County Inspection Certification (not the State of Maryland), and a detailed payment listing.