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Clear info on home solar power rebates, tax credits, and other benefits

2017 Policy Grade

A

Avg. Yearly Savings

$405

Congratulations! You've found the ultimate guide to going solar in Connecticut

2017 Policy Grade

A

Avg. Savings/year

$405

At Solar Power Rocks, our dream is to turn your thoughts of solar power for your home into reality

Note: The numbers above are just estimates for a 5kW solar system, and your home is unique. The best way to know exactly how much money solar power can save you is to connect with one of our partners nearby. A friendly solar expert we trust will give you a buzz and help you craft a personal plan to get the absolute most out of a solar power system for your home. It's 100% free (yes, that’s right, 100% free) and you aren't obligated to buy anything.

From the sandy beaches of the Atlantic coast to the rugged beauty of the Housatonic State forest, the Land of Steady Habits has an abundance of natural wonders to protect. And what habit could be more steady than generating your own clean, renewable solar power from your very own roof?

Here in Connecticut, with the Governor and General Assembly committed to renewable energy, you don’t have to be a Yalie to see that great solar policy and incentives make it easy for us all to take part in the solar boom. And boom is the right word, too. Connecticut has ranked in the top ten states for solar installations per year for the past few years, and with electricity prices so high, solar is going to be great for a long time to come.

In fact, Connecticut is so great for solar power, we decided to write a bit more about solar in specific parts of the state. So if you live in any of the below areas, click to learn more about our strategy for getting home solar that pays you back quickly and makes big profits over time:

Otherwise, read on to find out the best way to go solar in Connecticut, and get personalized recommendations for next steps!

Questions? Our network of solar experts are on call to assist you. Simply sign up for personalized assistance on our special solar deals page. You can get discounted on-grid pricing as low as $4,000/kW! This is paired with the Connecticut solar incentives you see below.

Your guide to going solar in Connecticut

We've designed this page to be a complete guide to the complicated and sometimes confusing process of installing solar panels on a home in Connecticut. Since there's a lot of important information to consider, we've separated the page into sections to help you find what you are looking for. If you find this page useful, please share it with someone who might also find it interesting!

The Solar Strategy section is all about the various financial options you have in Connecticut. We've created a tool that asks you a few questions about what you hope to get out of a solar purchase and recommends whether you should pursue a solar lease, loan, or outright purchase. Then, we give you a detailed picture of how each could work for you.

The Policy Information section contains all of our latest research on the rules set by the state legislature and public utilities commission that determines how easy it is to go solar in Connecticut. These policies and rules govern everything from renewable energy mandates to whether you get paid retail or wholesale rates for the extra energy your system produces, and can have a huge effect on the viability of solar.

Finally, the Solar Incentives section lists all of the available financial benefits available to homeowners who go solar. This section includes information about money-back rebates and grants, tax credits, and tax exemptions. If you're looking for what Connecticut is doing to make solar more affordable for its citizens, you'll find it here.

We hope you find our work useful. If so, please help us keep our research and advocacy as strong as possible by sharing it with someone who might also find it interesting, contributing any amount you can, and by getting yourself personalized savings estimates from our trusted partner network.

Click any of the boxes below to go to that section of the page, or scroll down to read the page in order.

Your Solar Strategy in Connecticut

Figuring out the best way to go solar in Connecticut can be a little daunting. From loans and leases to power-purchase agreements, there are a lot of options out there. To help you pick the one that might be best, we've created the handy decision tool below.

We'll ask you a few simple questions about you and your home. Once you're done, we'll recommend a good option. Further down this page, we provide cost estimates and example return-on-investment calculations for all the various options:

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Compare the Return of Different Solar Investments in Connecticut

The chart above shows the 25-year returns for an investment in solar whether you choose to purchase a system with cash or pay over time with a loan or lease. As you can see, the purchase option leads to the highest dollar-amount returns over time, and the savings are HUGE in CT. But paying up-front requires a big cash investment. If you don't have the cash, you can take a solar loan or home equity line of credit (HELOC). Your payments over 15 years will be only a little more than your savings, and you'll still come out tens of thousands ahead in the end.

The option with the smallest savings is for a Power-Purchase Agreement, or PPA, which means you put $0 down on a rooftop solar system and pay monthly while you accumulate electricity bill savings over time. PPAs are an excellent option if you don't have any equity or cash to put down, and they still save you thousands in CT.

Read on to find out more about each option.

Net Present Value of Solar in Connecticut

“Net Present What?!” Don’t panic, this isn’t an economics test. NPV is just a tool used to compare investments. Basically, it asks, “if you had X dollars to invest, which investment would get you the best return?” It relies on the idea that getting a return on your investment sooner is better than later, because you can reinvest your early profits and keep the gain train going.

We compare an investment in solar to a “what-if” investment in a Standard & Poor’s (S&P) 500 stock index fund, which has seen growth of about 7% per year over the past 25 years. We use the cost of solar in Connecticut and ask “how much better or worse (in 2017 dollars) is an investment in solar than stocks?” Here's what we found for the three different ways of going solar in Connecticut:

Look at all that green! When they tell you solar is a good deal in Connecticut, this is what they're talking about. A solar investment in Connecticut should provide a better return than the stock market whether you choose a PPA, a loan, or pay up front. Here's some more about how we got these numbers:

Solar PPA NPV: $5,723

Saving money without having to put anything down is always going to have a positive NPV. In Connecticut, you’ll save $11,702 by paying for electricity under a solar PPA for 20 years, which is the basically having an extra $5,732 to invest now. Read more about PPAs in Connecticut below.

Solar Loan NPV: $9,841

As we’re fond of saying, taking a loan for solar is a no-brainer, because it’s like agreeing to pay over time for something that is also making you money, plus you get 30% of the loan value as a federal tax credit (cash in your pocket) after making payments for only 1 year. In the case of Connecticut, that tax credit windfall is just one part of the story. Even before it gets calculated, the state will give you up to $5,400 as a rebate, directly reducing your cost. All that helps push the NPV of a solar loan to $9,841 better than a similar investment in the stock market. That's a mind-boggling return for any investment, and it's insane for something that requires no money down. Read more about solar loans below

Solar Purchase NPV: $6,992

The two biggest reasons a solar purchase in Connecticut has a positive NPV are the 30% federal tax credit and those rebates. On top of that, the money you save on electricity is also available for future investment. But you can see above what happens to NPV if you choose a solar loan instead. Unless you need to put cash into an asset, a loan is a much smarter way to pay for solar panels. Read more about solar purchases below.

blue  Solar Power-Purchase Agreements in Connecticut

Connecticut residents have long enjoyed the ability to get solar from a third-party company and pay monthly, and a Power-Purchase Agreement (PPA) is still a great way to go. The state legislature and public utilities commissions are really into solar, so there isn't much reason to worry that utility companies will start trying to impose monthly fees on solar homeowners like they have in other states.

For now, leasing a 5-kW solar system can save you about $34 per month, which is some of the biggest savings in the country. You can put $0 down and start saving right away. Those small monthly savings add up to huge money over the 20-year lease term, too.

Here's how a solar PPA works:

Example savings in Connecticut

Annual Electric Bill Before Solar

$1,839

Annual Electric Bill After Solar

$610

Est. Annual Solar Payments

$823

Average Annual Savings

$405

Power-Purchase Agreements (PPAs) are the most popular form of what's called "third-party solar." A PPA just means your solar company owns the panels on your roof, and you pay for the electricity they produce. The numbers above show the savings with a solar PPA for an average home in Connecticut. The typical electric bill before solar power is super expensive, but with a PPA, your monthly expenses will be lower. You'll be saving money and saving the planet all at the same time!

Here's an estimate of the monthly savings for a solar PPA in Connecticut:

Monthly solar PPA savings in Connecticut

With a PPA, your solar company essentially becomes a second utility provider, only the solar electricity is sold to you at a lower rate than the fossil fuel electricity you've been buying from the electric company! Note: your PPA won't eliminate your power bill from your regular electric provider, because you'll still need energy from the grid when the sun isn't shining. But it will save you money!

The less-popular cousin of the third-party solar family is the solar lease. It's basically like renting your panels for a set monthly payment, and getting all the energy they produce—however much it is. Don't get spooked by that language, though. A typical solar lease comes with energy production guarantees that will make sure you're getting what you paid for. In fact, if you're not offered a production guarantee with a solar lease, walk away.

Here's the best part of third-party solar: whether you end up with a lease or a PPA, the installation company owns the panels and will do all the maintenance for you. Usually that means just a good cleaning every year, but if any part of that system fails, you're off the hook! That can be a great benefit to homeowners who are risk averse.

Keep in mind, the numbers above are based on an average home in Connecticut. If you're ready for a custom quote for a solar lease or PPA, our network of experts are on call to assist you. Simply sign up for personalized assistance on our special solar deals page.

Home Solar Power: PPA vs. Purchasing

To PPA, or not to PPA? Willsolar Shakespanels would be proud we're discussing this. Here's the basic deal. If you choose to lease your panels, you benefit from no out of pocket costs and an immediately reduced total electricity payment. Because of this, many regard this option as a no-brainer, since there isn't any downside to think of. The only hiccup you'll start to experience is when you consider the long term financial benefit of owning the solar panel system yourself.

In many situations, if you can afford the outlay or can easily secure financing, the cost of the install becomes an investment with a return outpacing even the strongest performing mutual funds. In addition, there's significantly less principal risk, since the energy credits you will be producing are tied to the sun coming up in the morning instead of our financial markets!

Additionally, if you go the PPA route, you must forfeit all the credits and performance payments you would receive by owning the system yourself to the solar PPA company (after all, that's how they can afford to give you such a no-brainer proposition in the first place).

orange square  Solar Loans in Connecticut

Don't have $14,000 sitting around to pay for solar? No sweat! As long as you have good credit or equity in your home, you can still own solar panels and reap all the benefits. Heck, even if you do have the cash, getting a loan to pay for solar is by far the best option when it comes to percentage return on investment.

That’s because, in Connecticut, using a loan to pay for solar is like investing in a business that's sure to succeed, and also earns you a tax break. Your energy bill savings will be greater than your loan payments from day 1, meaning you'll never have to spend a cent on solar, and at the end of year 1, you'll get 30% of the installed cost back from the Federal governement as a tax credit.

Once the loan is paid off, you'll be making almost $1,700/year in profits, netting tens of thousands over the 25-year life of your system.

A solar purchase like this will make sense for you if the following is true about you and your current situation:

  • You can qualify for a solar loan or home-equity line of credit (HELOC) for $14,000, with a fixed rate of 4.5% or lower and a 15-year repayment period.
  • You love making money without much risk

Here’s how the numbers pencil out for a Connecticut solar purchase with a HELOC:

  • Installing a typical 5-kW solar system should start at about $13,950, after Connecticut's excellent solar rebate. That's how big your loan will need to be to cover it.
  • The electricity you'll save in the first year of operation would have cost $1,229, but your annual loan payments will be just $1,238, meaning you'll end up spending about $108 this yearon loan payments.
  • But wait—add on another $4,185 when that tax credit comes in! You'll come out $4,077 ahead in year 1, which should help ease the burden of loan payments for a few years, at least.
  • The benefits of taking the loan are so great that after the loan is paid off, your profits stack up just like if you bought the system outright. You'll end up with $24,379 in profits over our 25-year example—all without putting a single penny into it. That's HUGE.
  • On top of the green that will stay in your pocket, your system will mean green for the environment, too. 97 trees-worth, every year!
Keep in mind, the numbers above are based on an average home in Connecticut. If you're ready for a custom quote for a solar loan, our network of experts are on call to assist you. Simply sign up for personalized assistance on our special solar deals page.

green square  Buying Solar in Connecticut

An outright purchase used to be the only way to get solar, and it's still the option that provides the best dollar-for-dollar returns. The reason it's so great is that you own the system from day one and reap all the benefits. The Federal and State tax credit and electricity savings bring your first-year costs way down.

In our example, you put down $13,950 up front, but by the end of year 1, incentives and energy savings will erase a bunch of it. Over 25 years, your system will have produced over $40,000 in income. The reason this works so well is that electricity in Connecticut is EXPENSIVE. Solar offsets enough of it to save you over $1,300 in year 1, and it just goes up from there. As the electric company raises rates, you save more and more, and more...

Now, even though those savings sound huge, you should look into the look into the HELOC option too, because taking a loan to buy an income-generating asset means you'll be saving more money than your loan payments. It's like being able to start a business that is sure to succeed, just by having a roof.

Here’s how the numbers pencil out when you pay up front for a 5-kW rooftop solar system in Connecticut:

  • Installing a typical 5kW solar system should start at about $13,950 after the state's generous rebate. That's cheaper than solar has ever been, but it still might seem like a big investment. Don’t worry, because after tax breaks and energy savings, your first-year costs will be considerably less than that.
  • The Feds calculate their incentive based on actual out of pocket costs, so take 30% of $13,950, for a tax credit of $4,185. Your total investment is now down to just $9,765.
  • After the tax credit we subtract your first year’s energy savings, which we estimate to be $1,229. That reduces your cost after the first year to only $8,536.
  • Your system will pay for itself in just 8 years, and over its 25-year life, you'll see a total net profit of $29,897. The internal rate of return for this investment is a stupendous 16%!
  • And don't forget... your home's value just increased by almost $30,000, too (your expected annual electricity savings over 20 years)!
  • In addition to all that cash (and home value), you’ve created some green for the earth as well by not using electricity from fossil fuels. It's like planting 94 trees a year, every year your solar power system is humming.
Keep in mind, the numbers above are based on an average home in Connecticut. If you're ready for a custom quote for a solar panel system, our network of experts are on call to assist you. Simply sign up for personalized assistance on our special solar deals page.

Connecticut Solar Policy Information

Ever wonder why solar seems to be everywhere in some states, but not in others? We did too.

State legislatures and public utilities commissions can enact rules to make solar power accessible for everyone. Favorable rules explain why some of the cloudiest states—New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, are doing so well with solar, and yet some of those with the most natural solar resources—like Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida—are doing so poorly.

Below is important information about the public policy, rules, and economic reasons that affect your ability to go solar here in Connecticut:

RPS

27% by 2020

Grade: B

Connecticut's Renewable Portfolio Standard grade

A Renewables Portfolio Standard (“RPS”) requires utilities in the state to eventually source at least a certain percentage of their electricity from clean, renewable sources like solar panels.

Connecticut has an aggressive yet complicated RPS, which puts the state among the best for renewable energy. The short version is that Connecticut utilities (both of them) must supply 27% of their power with renewable energy by January 1, 2020. The longer version is how they classify renewable energy. They break it down into Class I, Class II, and Class III renewable energy sources.

Class I contains our friend residential solar; mixed in with 10 other sources like wind, fuel cells, methane gas, and all kinds of ocean power. 20% out of the 27% must come from Class I sources, and again that includes solar.

Class II and III must make up 3% and 4% of the total energy portfolio to guide the development of trash to energy and combined heat and power systems, respectively.

Connecticut’s RPS is critical to strong renewable energy policy. Utility companies aren't really all that gung-ho about you producing your own power. After all, it costs them money when you use less of their electricity. They also don’t naturally want to give you big payments for energy you're feeding back into the grid. The main reason the utilities are aiding your transition to lower electric bills and offering you incentives to put solar on your roof is because the state forces them to. If the utilities don't hit their RPS numbers, they have to pay large fees back to the state.

What's an RPS? Your state legislature paves the way for strong solar energy incentives to flourish by setting standards for renewable energy generation within their territories. Those standards are called the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS). If utility companies do not meet these standards, they must pay alternative compliance fees directly to the state. Many utilities then determine the best ways to source their energy from renewable sources that are less expensive than this fee.

An RPS is a mandate that says "Hey utilities! Y'all now have to make a certain percentage of your electricity from renewable sources. If not, you'll have to pay us huge fines." The consequences are good, because utilities usually try to meet these RPS standards by creating solar power incentives for you, the homeowner. Read more about Renewable Portfolio Standards.

RPS solar carve out

None

Grade: F

Connecticut's Solar Carve-out grade

While the state’s RPS has no official solar carve out (i.e., a specific amount of electricity that must come from solar), Connecticut is serious about clean energy, and has squirreled away some dough over the years into the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund. Starting June of 2011, the Clean Energy Finance Authority (CEFIA) has a mandate to create 30 new megawatts of residential solar by the end of 2022.

What's a solar set aside? A solar set aside guarantees a specific portion of the overall renewable energy mix generated comes from the sun. For those states with progressive standards, high alternative compliance payments, and clear solar carve outs, the faster those areas become ripe for solar.

Some states have higher alternative compliance fees than others, and some states have more progressive alternative energy standards and deadlines than others do.

For instance, New Jersey has an overall RPS of 22.5% by the year 2021. That requires local utilities to source 22.5% of their energy mix from renewable sources by the year 2021. Pretty good. However, New Jersey also has a specific solar set aside of 4.1% by 2028. That’s the type of firm commitment which really gets the industry rolling forward. No wonder why New Jersey is one of the hottest solar markets right now!

Connecticut Electricity Prices

$0.21/kwh

Grade: A

Connecticut's Electricity cost grade

Connecticut may be a relatively small state, but the electricity prices sure aren't. The average retail price for electricity was 21 cents per kWh in 2016, compared to a national average about 13 cents/kWh.

And those 21-cent prices aren’t going down anytime soon, folks. It looks like a rate of about 3.5% increases will be constant going forward, and that’s without unforeseen spikes in price caused by regulation, instability, and more. With solar panels on your home, you are protected from rises in prices; in fact, when the prices go up, you get paid more for the electricity your system generates!

We would expect some savvy customers might be thinking about jumping ship and going solar! Fortunately, there is a photovoltaic life raft for you to swim out to - one Connecticut has created for itself in the last decade.

Why are electricity prices so important? Because that is what solar power is directly competing against. The cost to produce power with solar is relatively constant (of course how much sun hits your area has an effect), so if you are paying $0.40 per watt for power, then you make FOUR TIMES AS MUCH as the guy or girl paying $0.10 per watt electricity.

The caveat here is that if the $0.10 per watt person has a HUGE rebate, they may be better off than the $0.40 per watt person. Because of that, states without any renewable standards tend to be heavily reliant on cheap coal for electricity, and also have very low electricity prices. When electricity prices are artificially low, that hinders the ability of solar energy to achieve meaningful payback in the state.

Connecticut Net Metering

A

Grade: A

Connecticut's Net Metering grade

With net metering if you generate more power than you need, you’ll get a credit on your next bill. In Connecticut, they call each kWh your system generates above your usage a NEG (Net Excess Generation). Those NEGs keep rolling over into the next month until the customer uses them all. The utility must pay the customer annually for every NEG that makes its way to the end of the year.

Connecticut has fantastic Net Metering Laws. All classes of renewable energy systems get net metering, up to a gigantic 2 megawatt installed capacity. So solar homeowners here will do just fine.

What is net metering? Net metering is the billing arrangement where you can sell excess electricity back to your utility for equal the amount you are charged to consume it. The more customer friendly net metering policies, the higher the grade.

The grade here specifically reflects individual solar system capacity, caps on program capacity limits, restrictions on “rollover” of kWh from one month to the next (yep just like cell phone minutes), metering issues (like charges for new meters), Renewable Energy Credit (REC) ownership, eligible customers and technology (the more renewables the better), being able to aggregate meters across the property for net metering, and safe harbor provisions to protect customers from solar tariff changes.

Connecticut Interconnection Rules

B

Connecticut's Interconnection Standards grade

Interconnection rules basically lay out requirements for how an energy-generating system is tied to the utility’s power grid. Connecticut has an opportunity to improve in this area by removing requirements for redundant external disconnect switches and liability insurance, but otherwise things are looking good.

Interconnection rules are a little technical, but they basically allow you to “plug in” to the electric grid with solar panels on your roof. The more complex, out of date, or nonsensical the state rules are for plugging into the grid, the lower the grade.

Specifically, the grade reflects what technologies are eligible, individual system capacity, removing interconnection process complexity for smaller systems, interconnection timelines and charges, engineering charges, prohibiting the requirement of unnecessary external disconnects, certification, spot interconnection vs. wide area interconnection, technical screens, friendliness of legalese, insurance requirements, dispute resolution, and rule coverage.

Solar Incentives in Connecticut

Connecticut Solar Power Rebates

Up to $9,400

Grade: A

Connecticut's Solar Rebates grade

Connecticut has generous solar power rebates for all the PV equipment you could ever need or want, up to a 20-kilowatt installation. If you use enough energy to justify a 10-kW system, the state offers $540 back per kW, and $400/kW for a system sized larger than your usage, up to 20kW, meaning the max you can get from the program is $9,400.

The current round of funding for the rebate program has $10 million available, with a total of $40 million for the program. Be sure to follow the steps to have your Connecticut solar installation certified, and you can count on a really nice rebate.

The state also offers incentives for third-party companies who install and maintain solar panels on homes and lease the systems to homeowners, which makes Connecticut one of the best places in the country for solar leasing!

How do solar rebates work? Similar to getting a rebate card from your local big box store for a dishwasher purchase, state legislatures also provide rebates for solar panel purchases to spur on investment and create new jobs. If you purchase the solar panel system yourself, you qualify for this free cash, which many times is a lump payment back to you. Some solar installers like to take this amount directly off the total installed price, and they'll handle the paperwork for you to make things a lot less complex.

The availability of state and utility rebates were sourced from the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Energy Efficiency. The better the rebates, the higher the grade.

Connecticut Solar Power Tax Credits

None

Grade: F

Connecticut's Solar Tax Credits grade

Connecticut doesn’t offer a tax credit for installing solar panels on your home, but don’t worry! The US government offers a 30% federal tax credit for homeowners who go solar. And Connecticut is helping to finance solar and other energy improvements for all homeowners through their local governments. There are several programs available based on whether you want to get a loan or just lease a solar system.

About state solar tax credits: State tax credits are not technically free money. However, they are 'credits' and not 'deductions' which means that if you have the tax appetite to take advantage of them, then they can be a 1-to-1 dollar amount off your taxes instead of a fraction of the cost of the system. So that means they can be an important factor to consider. In certain circumstances, state tax credits can provide a very powerful incentive for people to go solar.

(Keep in mind, we are not tax professionals and give no tax advice so please consult a professional before acting on anything we say related to taxes)

The availability of personal tax credits for solar energy were sourced from the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Energy Efficiency. The higher the tax credit amount, the higher the grade.

Solar Power Performance Payments

Payments for ZRECs

Grade: C

Connecticut's Solar Performance Payments grade

To meet their RPS goals, power companies can either pay you for the zero-emission renewable energy credits (ZRECs) you generate with your solar panels, or they have the option of making “Alternative Compliance Payments” to the state. The real bummer is you cannot accept both the payments for your ZRECs and the rebates available for your system.

As of 2016, the Alternative Compliance Payments are too low to justify a switch from receiving Connecticut's solar rebate to getting payments for your ZRECs. The state’s two investor owned utilities, Connecticut Light and Power (CL&P) and United Illuminating Company (UI) will simply continue to keep paying those lower fees instead of lining your wallet.

Stay tuned for any changes in the cost of those Alternative Compliance Payments. Until then, Performance Payments (though they exist) are kind of a moot point for Connecticut homeowners.

Explanation of performance payments: Performance payments represent a big chunk of the financial rationale for going solar, and in many instances they make your decision a wise one. For certain states, if you’ve got solar panels on your roof, not only will you be cutting your electric bill down to size, but you'll be getting paid additional cash from your utility company. Pretty awesome, huh? Not only are you generating electricity for yourself, freezing your own popsicles with sun, and feeling like you’re doing something smart for your children or any of the other 4 reasons people go solar, but you are getting PAID!

Utility companies are paying people with solar panels on their roofs because their states say they have to, otherwise they will pay a fee. Therefore, the payment amount to homeowners is typically a little bit less than the amount they would be billed for by the state. For states with these alternative compliance fees, Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC) exchanges have popped up. In the above chart, we outlined an estimate of yearly payments a homeowner might expect from the utility company for the SREC credits from their solar energy system.

Expected SREC payments were calculated by using the latest trade values in the SRECtrade database. The availability of feed-in tariffs were sourced from the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Energy Efficiency. The higher the expected monthly payments, the higher the grade.

If you don’t know what an SREC is, or how they work, check out this great SREC video

Property Tax Exemption

100%

Grade: A

Connecticut's Solar Property Tax Exemptions grade

When solar panels are installed on your home, its value increases. We’re talking many thousands of dollars of instant property value goodness. But wait, that isn’t even the best news! Connecticut has provided residents a way out of paying more property taxes for putting solar panels on their roofs since 1977, thanks to the property tax exemption. As long as you file a claim with the board of assessors before the first day of November in the applicable assessment year, you will not have to pay a single penny more in property taxes for that shiny new PV system. Brilliant, Connecticut!

About solar property tax exemptions: Property tax exemption status is a pretty big factor when putting together your investment considerations. Many argue that solar power adds approximately 20 times your annual electricity bill savings (if you are owning the system and not leasing. Leasing still has a positive impact on the ability to sell your home though, in our opinion).

For many average-sized solar power systems on a house, that can mean $20,000 to your home value. (Edit April, 2014: Some companies, like Solar Mosaic, are starting to offer traditional style equity-based home loans for such a thing). An additional $20,000 in property tax basis in many states amounts to a big chunk of change owed back to the state. However, many states have complete exemptions from added taxes when you install solar on your home!

The availability of a property tax exemption for solar energy was also sourced from the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Energy Efficiency. The stronger the tax exemption, the higher the grade.

Sales Tax Exemption

100%

Grade: A

Connecticut's Solar Sales Tax Exemption grade

A solar installation in Connecticut is also 100% exempt from sales taxes, saving you 6.35% right out of the gate!

What's the deal with solar power sales tax exemptions? When states give you a sales tax break on solar, we notice. You should too. State sales tax exemption status for the purchase of solar energy systems were sourced from the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Energy Efficiency. Sales tax exemptions, if present, were all 100%. A handful of states are completely exempt from sales tax regardless, and therefore received ‘A’ grades by default (OR, DE, MT, AK, and NH).

Switch to solar and save $36.44/mo on avg ($0 installations available) - Click Here

The consensus on Connecticut solar power rebates and incentives

Connecticut has made the right size commitment to create a solar power market. Having the funding for solar energy was no accident. Connecticut set up the CCEF in 2000 for that aim, and started putting money away (out of everyone’s utility bill) to make that possible today. Strong utility rebates and the possibility for great financing deals are great ways to get more Connecticut homeowners into the solar game.

Although Connecticut’s legislation around solar is nearly unassailable, there is still some room for improvement. The incentives they provide residential solar customers overlap somewhat with utility-scale renewable energy applications, leaving the code more complex for homeowners than it needs to be.

When it comes to performance payments, Connecticut could make them more attractive by increasing the price of a ZREC. If utilities didn’t have sweet Alternative Payments to turn to, they would be looking to buy them from solar powered home owners every time.

Well, that’s about it for Connecticut. It’s a great state for homeowners looking to go solar, albeit with some complexities to navigate. The good news is that you can contact one of our trusted installers to help walk you through the process, complete with as many free quotes as the savvy shopper in your heart desires.

42 thoughts on “Connecticut Solar Power for your house – rebates, tax credits, savings

  1. Dexter says:

    I’m not sure if maybe you just got a bad apple with your appraiser, but solar systems absolutely do add value to homes and the research has been done plenty to support it. We’re now a good 6-7 years into this tremendous solar boom which is time for PLENTY of homes to be sold. They will add 0 value if leased/rended, and roughly 3$/watt if owned, depreciating yearly of course. It’s been proven to be the same as homes that are converted to more efficient fossil fuels even it’s not really a complex concept. Utility savings = value added, simple as that :S

  2. Justin says:

    As a solar panel owner of the past 4 years, I have recently discovered that Solar Systems do not add any book value to your home. Much to my ignorance, I had assumed it would. However, it turns out (logically so), that there are little-to-no sales records of homes with Solar systems, that would be utilized to approximate home values. In addition, appraisers do not account for Solar Systems as a part of their home value estimations and have no plans on it either. I happen to have purchased my system, and feel even worse about those that lease/loan/rent their systems. When they try to sell it can often be more complicated, and also not a known factor for home appraisal value

  3. Matt says:

    I’m working with one of the large solar companies and they keep saying that Connecticut has a strict 100% offset cap, meaning I can’t install a system larger than my last year’s usage. I can’t find any confirmation of this other than that the incentives are reduced from $540/kW to $400/kW. Is it really true that CT won’t allow me to put up a system that provides 104% of my previous year’s usage? Thanks in advance for any advice.

  4. John says:

    Be careful when trying to calculate a future value of your home after solar has been installed. Solar panels have a useful life. I guess that after 15 to 20 years the panels will need to be replaced. So if I was a potential buyer and the house had solar panels 20 years old the replacement cost of the panels would need to be adjusted from your hopeful sale price. Thereby netting no additional value.

    1. Ben Zientara says:

      Thanks for that, John! In fact, most panels come with a 25-year warranty that covers any loss of efficiency below 80%, so a solar installation that’s 10-15 years old should still add a considerable amount of value to the home, as long as the homeowner can provide evidence of the warranty. And yes, if you’re buying a home that has 20-year old panels, you’re likely to keep getting plenty of use from them, but you have to factor the end of the warranty into your value calculations.

  5. Sasha59 says:

    We are currently in the process of purchasing a solar system for our home. In doing our due diligence, one cost we never read or was informed about is if your solar system is very large (our proposed system is 14.4 kW), your utility company can charge you the customer for all expenses to upgrade their electrical infrastructure to handle your interconnection. That is what United Illuminating informed us. They say we are required to pay for all infrastructure costs needed to install a dedicated transformer that can handle our load since the existing transformer cannot handle it given the current customer needs on our street. This amounts to a LOT of money UI says we have to pay if we install our 14.4 solar system, even though we will not own the equipment. We were totally blindsided with these additional costs as we never read about such a situation occurring nor did our solar company outline this in our contract. Residents should be made aware of this potential financial setback before entering into a contract and this info should be widely posted on solar sites. Buyer Beware: A commonly held principle of utility rate regulation throughout the U.S. is the so-called “doctrine of cost causation”, which holds that an entity that imposes costs on a utility system must pay for all such costs!

  6. Dave says:

    I’ve been approached by a firm who wants to lease my land to install a solar farm. What do they usually pay per acre? What is the maga watt per acre?

  7. Anonymous says:

    I recently signed up for a homeowner owned system. Cost per watt, $ 3.50 and the town canceled the $ 200 inspection fee. So our cost for a 9.88 kWSTC system installed: $ 38,930 – $ 200 = $ 38,730. State of Connecticut CEFIA HOPBI payment authorized (and I have this of course in writing) $ 9,207.00 making the cost of the system $ 29,523 before the Federal Tax Credit of $ 8,857 for a bottom line cost of $ 20,666. Considering Connecticut currently has among the highest electric utility costs in the nation, this is a good deal indeed.

  8. Anonymous says:

    How about a ground mount? I do not want panels on my roof.

  9. Anonymous says:

    You may want to regrade CT. Their incentives have dropped off substantially. A 5KW system will now only net a $3,375 rebate, as opposed to $6,250 from just a few months ago. In 2012, they were offering $12,000 back for the same system. Every few months the incentives decrease significantly. It seems they’ve lost their focus.

    1. Ben Zientara says:

      Thanks, buddy! We’ve updated the information on this page to reflect the new information. A couple things about reductions in the rebate amount:

      1. Installed prices for solar are quite a bit cheaper than they were back in 2012.
      2. $3,375 is still way bigger than nearly any other state rebate.
      3. When the rebates go down, the federal investment tax credit (ITC) goes up a little. The ITC is calculated after the rebate is taken off, so a 5-kW system gets a $750 bigger tax credit.
      4. Total investment return over 25 years only goes down from about $38k to $36k. Not too shabby.

      Thanks again for bringing it up!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Hello, I’m working on a project for my environmental science class. My task for this includes having to hold a small interview with a professional in ml the field of my topic of choice. My topic I chose is tax incentives for green living in Connecticut. I was hoping if I could exchange emails with someone on here that I could ask a few questions pertaining to this. If someone could help me with this that would be great! Thank you, Shannon. (mcnamara.shannon94@gmail.com)

  11. Anonymous says:

    1) This blog page is very impressive. 2) I was trying to research how home prices are affected in CT, does anyone know where some recent (2012, 2013,2014) facts/ statistics are? 3) Wow the prices sure have come down in Connecticut! I just put a proposal together for a client in Milford- 10,970 Watt system. Total Cost $43,8600, ($4 per Watt), after CEFIA & Fed tax credit. Net cost $20,702. This homeowner will produce 99% of their electrical energy, estimated yearly savings $2,124. I’m trying to tell the homeowner home much the home will increase in value but that’s still tough to prove in Connecticut. I just read a report that says for every $1 saved with solar PV, the home’s value goes up $20. If this is true, this home would get a value boost of 42K, (2,124 x 20) and since the net cost is 20K they will be up over 20K in increased home value instantly (if this is true). On top of that saving 2k a year on electrical bills. Again I’m looking for concrete proof of CT home value increases, (which I don’t have yet) but if this 1-20 ratio is true we are about to see an explosion in solar PV installs throughout Connecticut. The benefits will seem too good to be true to most homeowners. If someone has any (recent) info about solar PV affecting home prices please please let me know! sunpowerpros@gmail.com

    1. That’s a great question! Unfortunately, like any variable that impacts home value it’s not a simple calculation. We know that from sales of home in California where many more solar homes have been sold, that home values on average increase by somewhat more than the cost of the system. This is attributed to the savings in electricity costs, which then makes the home comparatively less expensive to live in. This effect would in theory happen anywhere in the country by a comparable amount. In addition, there are a couple other factors that may help increase the value of the home once solar is installed. For example, if solar is already installed, then by definition it must be possible to install solar at that location and depending on your neighborhood, every house in the area may not be appropriate for solar. So for someone who wants to have solar, getting a house that already has a solar system installed eliminates the perceived risk of buying a house and later finding out that house isn’t suitable for solar either because of shading, design of roof, neighborhood rules or other reason. For someone who is interested in getting solar but doesn’t have an existing relationship with an installer they trust, there may be a concern about how much electricity the system will actually produce, and buying an existing system with historical data eliminates that concern. Also, some people just want to buy a house that is what they want, all other things being equal they would prefer to avoid the fuss of an installation. So while I would love to be able to tell you for certain that an investment in a solar system of $30,000 will always result in an increase in home value of $35,000, I can’t do that. I do feel comfortable saying the home value would be very likely to increase by at least the amount the homeowner invests in the system, regardless of the location in the country, as long as the Return On Investment is better than a Certificate of Deposit. I hope that helps!

  12. mike says:

    I am interested in having solar installed in our stratford office. I like a local provider.

    1. A local installer may make you feel more comfortable, but a proven track record is probably more important. Look for an installer with an above average number of installations and a clean report from the Better Business Bureau. This is probably the second or third largest investment you will make in your life, so get multiple bids and make sure you are working with an experienced company. If the installer has a decade of experience as an electrician, roofer or other contractor and a clean report from the Better Business Bureau, that can also be considered, along with the cost and number of prior solar installations. Most installers will drive further for a solar installation than you might expect. Also consider asking your current electrician or other people in construction related industries for a recommendation, they often know who in town does good work. I hope that helps!

  13. Rusty Malik says:

    There is some confusion on what rebates, tax credits or incentives are availible for residential installations of solar photo-voltaic and geothermal systems. I would like to install both this summer or earlier and need to understand the cost implications. It seems that most of the programs are in flux. My goal is to move towards zero fossil fuel consumption this year if possible. Thanks

    1. Contact your installers and ask them for their experience in getting grants and rebates. They should provide assistance in learning what help is available as well as assisting you in completing the paperwork correctly. Some are more or less automatic, like the 30% Federal Tax Credit, others are first come first served, and some are chosen randomly although you should receive a letter of approval prior to installation. Your installer has had experience getting grants and rebates approved and will be able to give you guidance on what you can actually expect to receive. If you want to do some research yourself, you can go to http://www.dsireusa.org/ and look up the grants and rebates in your area. If you find something your installer seems to have missed, absolutely bring it to their attention! The grant or rebate may be out of date or have exhausted its funding but it never hurts to find out.

  14. Mike says:

    The assessor in our town in Connecticut is denying our Geothermal property tax exemption. She claims she is still allowed to tax us for a conventional HVAC system, even though we do not have one. The statute (12-81(57)) does not say she is allowed to do this, instead giving NO limits or restrictions. Nearby statutes (56) and (62) do have this clause, but not (57), which means (to me) that it should be 100% exempt. She is also claiming that no assessor in the state is allowing this exemption. Can any installers contact their clients and find out whether they are receiving any kind of reduction in their property tax for their Geothermal systems? What towns and with what limits?

    This should be of critical interest to installers and residents who have installed Geo.
    Thanks – Mike

    1. The best advice I can give you is to try to explain your position as best you can, citing the law as it is written and staying calm, sticking to the facts. If that doesn’t work, you can try going to their boss and explaining the situation, again staying calm and sticking to the facts. If that doesn’t work, a local elected representative such as mayor or alderman may be able to assist. Always remember to stay calm and stick to the facts of the matter. And if all else fails, stay calm and stick to the facts. When you seem reasonable, your position seems reasonable. Good Luck!

  15. Pablo,
    Also the ZREC market is not decided what and how things will take place yet

  16. Pablo,
    Commercial rebates incentives in Connecticut are competitive bidding and must have money for soft cost such as engineering, structural and electrical, have permitting started and your application in by December 31st ODG it is called. However is you want a 30% federal tax grant you must start the process by Oct 1 or it becomes a federal tax incentive, you also get 100% bonus depreciation this year next year it is downed by 50% bonus deprecation.

    for Connecticut
    http://www.ctcleanenergy.com/default.aspx

    federal
    http://www.dsireusa.org/incentives/index.cfm?state=us

  17. Pablo Mir says:

    Which are the options and incentives for commercial PV Systems in Connecticut?
    We want to install a PV system in our property in CT (not residential) but I can’t find clear information about incentives and RECs. Where may I look?
    Thanks,
    Pablo.-

  18. Arthur says:

    I think the state should reconsider the approved vendor list given Clarian Energy’s upcoming product that basically just needs to be plugged into a wall socket. Saw it on CNN today.

    1. It may seem simple to install solar panels, and with the proper training and procedures it should go quickly and smoothly, but a simple mistake can also be deadly when you are working with electricity. Also, the government has an incentive to minimize the risk of fraud and by having licensed and certified installers and electricians submitting the grants and doing the installations, fraud seems much less likely. We all have an incentive to make sure the process works safely and legally at every step, so that bad publicity is avoided as well as accidental deaths. It’s sometimes frustrating to have to jump through the government hoops, but your installer will assist you will filling out your grant and rebate paperwork, as well as ensure you have a safe, productive and cost effective installation.

  19. Erik says:

    Kevin-
    You have done your calculations correctly.
    RECs are traded on a MW scale. In CT, you can get up to $30/MW ($0.03/kWH), while in NJ they are worth almost $700/MW ($0.70/kWH).
    NJ did this by carving out a portion of their RPS that had to be fullfilled in-state.
    CT tried to do this in the spring ’10 legislative session, but Gov. Rell vetoed the bill.

  20. Kevin says:

    Hello…I’m trying to get more info about the CT REC program. The link provided in the lead post above to “Mass Energy Renewable Energy Certificate Incentive” says that program covers Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Does it cover CT as well?

    Thank you for the great example of a Residential Solar System Installation and Cost analysis, but it does not seem to take in to account any RECs received by the homeowner. Do CT residents get REC’s? And are they valued at 3 cents per kWh for the first 3 years? If I’m calculating that correctly, that means each REC, which is 1000 kWh, is worth 3000 pennies, or $30. That calculation doesn’t seem right, given the general value of SRECs in other states (upward of $600). Can someone clarify this for me?

  21. Connecticut is due to end the solar lease program January 29th 2010. This is a moving target date due to people signing up and dropping off.

  22. Steve Earle says:

    I’m a licensed Electrician in MA & CT where could i find training for the installation end. Thank You.

    1. Solar manufacturers such as Mage have their own certification programs, and your local community college may as well. A common method of getting on the job training is to volunteer on several installations with an established installer. This also gives you some insight into some actual real life tips to increase productivity like bringing all the panels to the roof at once instead of bringing them up one by one, and getting as much of the assembly done on the ground as possible where the work is faster and easier, rather than assembling all the pieces on the rooftop. Google Solar Certification programs for the options that suit your needs best. You may have to travel across the country to attend a certification program, but for many people the investment was well worth it.

  23. Joyce Christie-Taylor says:

    Please provide sources for grant money, for CT solar energy projects, for an elderly woman, who lives alone, and on fixed income. Thank you!

    1. Hi, Joyce,

      Not sure about grant money, but Connecticut has a terrific solar lease program that we’ve written about. See:

      https://solarpowerrocks.com/affordable-solar/ct-solar-lease-basics/

      and the follow up:

      https://solarpowerrocks.com/affordable-solar/ct-solar-lease-get-it-while-you-can/

      This a good deal that costs 0 down and is restricted to individuals that earn LESS than $250,000 a year. Hope that helps.

    2. Check out http://www.dsireusa.org/ for possible funding options. Keep in mind that grants are constantly being added, so if you don’t see exactly what you are looking for, you can try emailing the contacts listed for the grant programs that seem the closest to what you are looking for and asking if anything is planned for the near future. Keep up the good work and Good Luck!

  24. John, thanks. We actually did cover the CT Solar Lease in two post series and will one day combine. But for those interested in reading, see:

    https://solarpowerrocks.com/affordable-solar/ct-solar-lease-basics/

  25. John Carollo says:

    Cost Comparisons

    Lease Monthly Costs
    42 panels 9.7 KW DC = will produce about 10,078 Kwh per year
    Estimated CT Rebate $35,780.00
    Lease Payment 15 years fixed $181.39 per month
    Lease Payment Year 15-20 $54.42 per month

    5KW DC = will produce about 5195 Kwh per year
    Estimated CT Rebate $19,944.00
    Lease Payment 15 years fixed $82.41 per month
    Lease Payment Year 15-20 $25.00 per month
    there is a company in New Haven that is involved in that program. no down payment. win win win situation

  26. John Carollo says:

    Having lived in Connecticut for 43 years i find it difficult to understand that Ct dones not have Connecticut Solar Rights laws. We have it in Florida and no one can stop one from installing solar systems. http://WWW.Floridarightlaws.com Ct needs to step up to the plate and protect the homeowners and business. No one can stop the installation…

    1. Solar is growing by nearly 100% each year as states write more solar friendly laws, solar costs drop and grid electricity continues to get more and more expensive. I think in the years ahead you will continue to see all the states reexamining their laws to make it easier and less expensive for their residents to go solar, create jobs and improve air quality in their states. As more and more states write solar friendly laws, the pressure on the other states to match them grows stronger. Don’t lose hope, and keep in mind Connecticut residents ARE going solar every day!

  27. Fred MW says:

    We are a CT State registered, privately owned training school that teaches various greening classes including solar energy, wind generators and other energy efficiency subjects and also trains energy auditors for residential and commercial properties. How and to whom do we apply for supporting grants in CT?

  28. Paul says:

    Guy is right just another way for the state gov to regulate income earned for a few. But the thing is we don’t need the CCEF there are other rebates and insentives to be had by a home owner. An as for Contractors all is legal as long as a Lic electrition is on staff. Money can be made all around and money can be saved for the home owners. But the way I see it is the people in the Biz now do not want the compatition of new Biz. It’s called greed.

  29. Tigger says:

    Well, not sure it will be all that comfortable for me when I make this statement, but when it comes to installing PV systems there is a great deal of danger to life and property at play. If an installer has not gotten the training in electrical code it is very likely that the installation will not be safe. But it really can be seen as a fine installation anyway, until someone dies or an installation causes damage due to fire or systems damage due to improper handling of the demands that conditions of use, ampacity, voltage place on the installation.

    Getting the light bulb to come on is the easy part. Having the light working 24/7 and never putting life, limb or property at risk under every condition an installation will be exposed to during its lifetime is another matter entirely.

    There is a reason why the electrical trade is an apprenticing trade and not a book learning trade. The state that I work in requires that I had to be trained for 8,000 hours directly under the supervision of a single licensed person, plus an additional 600 hours of theory and code instruction before I could sit for the written test, then take a practical one on top of that.

    With so much more energy, no pun intended, going into PV and other energy alternatives, the numbers of installations that will take place will surely make it clear how dangerous the average untrained person can be, the odds of failure and harm to life, limb and property go up as does the number of projected installations.

    There are absolutely some folks who are pure genius when involved with these kinds of things, but they are not the “average” and the population size is looking like it will be increasing so radically that those that are of the genius type will be insignificant compared to the needs of the many that will be wanting these systems. The pioneers of PV all pretty much earned their PHD’s though community exploration, with out worry of a law suite because of their own installations. What about the general public? It is a pain, but consumer protection is a very realistic need. To allow someone to install these systems as a “friend” or for hire with out appropriate training is, in my opinion, far to dangerous to allow.

    Whew… didn’t realize “my two cents” was going to be so long winded. Mean no offense to anyone, hope none taken.

  30. Guy says:

    My thoughts are that the Connecticut Solar Grant program has been subverted by the agency that administers it.
    There is NO provision for owner installed systems- without regard for the skill level of the owner and there is no suggestion of inspection.
    I’m not even sure it’s legal to restrict it in this way.
    Considering the costs, it looks like a cash cow for the “approved” installers.
    It should be the person who is put to the expense that receives the incentive.

    Guy gpr123@chartewr,net

    1. It may seem simple to install solar panels, and with the proper training and procedures it should go quickly and smoothly, but a simple mistake can also be deadly when you are working with electricity. Also, the government has an incentive to minimize the risk of fraud and by having licensed and certified installers and electricians submitting the grants and doing the installations, fraud seems much less likely. We all have an incentive to make sure the process works safely and legally at every step, so that bad publicity is avoided as well as accidental deaths. It’s sometimes frustrating to have to jump through the government hoops, but your installer will assist you will filling out your grant and rebate paperwork, as well as ensure you have a safe, productive and cost effective installation.

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