New Jersey Pulls Plug on Solar Rebates: Sunset for Eco Incentives?


Many New Jersey homeowners who recently decided to go solar are an unhappy bunch. To encourage the use of residential solar energy system that can cost anywhere from $20,000 to $48,000 to install, the state approved $58 million for solar rebates in 2010 that would help offset the cost.

But New Jersey's Gov. Chris Christie suddenly changed the solar energy game plan. To help with the state's budget gap Christie severely slashed the amount of money proposed for the solar energy rebates.
The $58 million originally intended for 2010's solar rebates was cut by more than half -- leaving only $20.5 million for homeowners already in the process of updating their home's energy system. Eco Home magazine reports that in a single day more than 1,100 homeowners applied for $6 million in rebates, forcing the state's Board of Public Utilities to cut off the application process. Some even camped outside of the BPU offices to ensure that their application would get submitted.

That doesn't necessarily mean an end to solar subsidies, though.

As solar contractors point out, there still are federal grants, as well as SRECs [state energy credits], out there to encourage you to make your home more eco-friendly through cash incentives.

Check to see if your state offers a rebate. Although Florida's rebate program, like New Jersey's, is on shaky ground, Colorado has just kicked off their program and California offers $2.50 per installed watt. Plus, the the 30 percent federal tax credit for installing residential renewable energy has been extended through 2016.

Don't let bureaucratic red tape stop your pursuit of a better solar tomorrow. What do you need to do to have your home eligible for a solar energy rebate? Look into fitting your home with a solar energy water heater, a device that uses the sun's thermal energy to heat water used in the home. Also, fit your house with solar panels (sometimes known as photovoltaic systems). The solar cells capture light energy from the sun and convert it directly into electricity. The savings for both of these are passed on to you by the amount of energy usage you save -- and the benefit is even bigger if you can wield a local or federal rebate.

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