Now is probably the best time for residential solar power in Washington State for the foreseeable future. With low prices, a new state incentive, and the federal incentive sunsetting – now is a great time for solar power.
Washington State Incentives are Kinda Back
Unfortunately the huge Washington State solar incentives don’t look like they’re coming back, but the sales tax exemption is back – meaning solar is now 8-10% cheaper! The state legislature also added additional net metering protection for solar power owners, guaranteeing you can make use of your summer overproduction in the winter.
The Federal Incentive is Ramping Down
2019 is the last year for the 30% federal tax credit. It will be 26% next year, 22% the year that follows, and disappears after that.
Solar Likely Won’t Get Much Cheaper
Over the past decade solar power prices have dropped from $8.50/kwh to under $3/kwh. This had largely been driven by reductions in panel and inverter pricing. Now solar pricing is largely driven by costs like manpower and you’re not likely to see manpower get cheaper. Even if solar panels were free in 2024, if all else stays the same you’ll likely pay more for solar power unless new incentives are offered.
So What Does Solar Cost?
Solar costs vary depending on your power needs, roof type, sun exposure, etc.
Assuming a reasonable lifespan of 25 years, I’d expect the cost of the power (system cost divided by estimated output) to be around 8¢/kwh. This is a bit less than PSE power today but also you must keep in mind utilities raise rates commonly 2-5% each year. So today’s grid power at 9¢ could easily be 16¢ in 20 years.
But if you’re curious about your situation, my best advice is quotes are free.
What happens in the future?
When the federal incentive goes I expect the focus to be on community solar and utility solar as those have better economies of scale. But for those who want to make an impact now and lock in their power costs, now is a great time to do residential solar.
Ready to check out solar? See why we picked A&R Solar to do our system.