Rising utility costs and new tax incentives are making solar power hot today

CANTON, Mass. — “This beats going to the gas station.”

That’s what Larry Lukaszewicz told Boston 25 News as he plugged in one of his hybrid cars.

The Canton homeowner recently put solar panels on his home.

“My catalyst was I follow the stock market and the energy market, and I just foresaw the cost of energy going thru the roof.”

A growing number of customers are frustrated with their utility bills and are reaching out to solar power companies.

“It’s definitely been on the increase, on the rise, because people are complaining about utility rate hikes,” said Thomas Janoski, director of engineering for Devlin Energy in Hingham.

According to the American Public Power Association, traditional power sources are expected to soar this winter:

  • Home heating oil up 19%
  • Natural gas up 21%
  • Wholesale electricity up 20%-60%
  • Rising costs are only half the equation.

Generous new incentives are making solar conversions cheaper.

As part of the Inflation Reduction Act, which was signed into law in August, homeowners can get a 30% federal tax credit for installing solar equipment.

For example, that would mean an immediate $6,000 off a $20,000 system.

Janoski said that’s not all. “There’s a $1,000 tax credit available from the Massachusetts state level.”

“This money is out there, and it’s sitting there, and people are taking advantage of it, and if you’re not looking into it, and figuring out how you can take advantage of it, you’re leaving it on the table,” said John Walkey of GreenRoots, an environmental advocacy group based in Chelsea.

“We’ve seen recently a lot of disruptions in our electrical grid,” added Walkey. “We’ve seen failures in our substations, and if you want to keep the power on, generate your own power.”

It used to take upwards of seven years for an investment in solar to pay off, but the combination of the tax credits and rising utility costs is changing that.

“It’s actually with the rate increases getting to be shorter period of time,” said Janoski. “I would say it’s a much time to go solar than it ever has been.”

Solar might be hot, but for most people, it’s a new frontier.

“When it comes to solar panels, I think we’re all sort of in the dark,” Walkey added. “This is all new to a lot of people and so it’s daunting.”

He suggests someone start by scouring the Mass Clean Energy Center’s website. There you can find contractors in your area and access cost estimates.

Janoski added, “We recommend that you have at least half of the lifespan of you roofing shingle product left before you go and make the investment to go solar.”

A back up battery, like the one Devlin Energy installed in Canton, can also be a good idea.

Lukaszewicz explained “I can basically run all night off the grid right thru the morning, and by sunrise it’s recharging again, and in the summertime, I’ll be getting some nice kickbacks from Eversource.”

The battery system is also eligible for the 30% tax credit.

The tax credits associated with the Inflation Reduction Act will be available thru 2032.

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