Solar Energy Updates

solar home

What’s new for solar energy in Florida? Solar energy sounds like the perfect solution to create a sustainable, clean and renewable energy source. So, is Florida moving towards more solar energy? Florida ranks third in the nation for solar potential, so we know we have plenty of sunshine to go around. Unfortunately, we rank 12th in installed solar systems. Part of the reason is that Florida does not have policies that support solar like some other states.

A renewable energy standard (RES) requires utility companies to provide a certain amount of the energy they generate from renewable sources such as wind and solar. There are many variations to these policies, including clean energy standards (which allow nuclear and low-polluting non-renewable energy sources like natural gas) and renewable goals. They are sometimes called renewable portfolio standards (RPS). More than half of all U.S. states have some type of renewable energy standard or goal in place. 

The 2012 Florida Energy Act reinstated a renewable energy production credit against state corporate income tax and in 2013 the legislature implemented a citizen-initiated constitutionally-mandated property tax exemption for residential solar systems. Florida provides a property tax exemption for residential photovoltaic systems, wind energy systems, solar water heaters, and geothermal heat pumps installed on or after January 1, 2013.  An increase in the value of the property due to the installation of this equipment should not be included in the tax assessment. Also, solar energy systems are not subject to sales tax. For other incentives– Database of State Incentives for Renewables &Efficiency. 

The average installed residential and commercial photovoltaic system prices in Florida have fallen by 28% in the last year.  National prices have also dropped steadily— by 12% from last year and 31% from 2010. In 2013, $81 million was invested in Florida to install solar on homes and businesses. A return on investment analysis to determine the cost savings on a renewable energy system should be done before installation. A solar water heater can be a first step after maximizing other available energy conservation features for a home.

 For more ideas on Sustainable Living, see the Pinellas County Extension website at http://pinellas.ifas.ufl.edu/sustainability/.

 Resources
Florida Solar Energy Center http://www.fsec.ucf.edu/en/
Living Green http://livinggreen.ifas.ufl.edu/energy/renewable_energy.html
Solar Energy Industries Association http://www.seia.org/state-solar-policy/florida
Database of State Incentives for Solar http://dsireusa.org/incentives/index.cfm?re=0&ee=0&spv=0&st=0&srp=1&state=FL

Mary Campbell, Extension Director
UF/IFAS Extension Pinellas County
Phone (727) 453-6514
mcampbell@pinellascounty.org