Just like all the energy sources the US has adopted over the past 100 years have received subsidies (and many are still receiving), so has solar PV. While some of these solar subsidies and credits may have unique and unfamiliar names, they are all just merely means to help you offset the costs of your solar installation. Here are just some of the approaches currrently being pursued…
Federal and state rebates
With the adoption of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and the subsequent Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008, the US federal government provides a 30% tax rebate towards a residential solar power system with currenly no limit on how much can be claimed. There are also state level rebates as well. These federal and state level rebates are listed at the following website… www.dsireusa.org/
Many energy companies are implementing programs that allow residents to “sell” the extra solar PV electricity they produce back to their energy companies. If the customer’s system generates more than they consume the specially built meter simply spins backwards.
Renewable Energy Credits (REC)
RECs usually take form as a check written directly to the homeowner for a percentage of the system. Private companies (PPAs, module OEMs, etc) as well as utilities and state governments will offer these RECs at some predefined amount. For example, private companies will sometimes offer you a defined “per watt” deduction to a purchase if you buy their modules or tie into their system and then pursue the REC with the local utility.
Feed-in Tariffs (FiT)
FiT’s are a policy mechanism designed to accelerate investment in renewable energy technologies. It achieves this by offering long-term contracts to renewableenergy producers (like yourself), typically based on the cost of generation…which means you would get paid for the energy you produce.
Want to learn more about Idaho’s solar incentives (or lack of in some respects), here is a very good discussion… http://solarpowerrocks.com/idaho/