The complete list of Georgia solar incentives and tax credits for 2023, plus how to take advantage.
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Georgia may offer a good amount of sunshine, but the state offers few incentives for homeowners who want to go solar. Despite this, the cost of going solar in the state has fallen by 50% in the last 10 years, and Georgia ranks 7th in the U.S. for installed solar capacity, according to the Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA).
Georgia also boasts more than 40 solar equipment manufacturers and more than 50 solar installers or developers. But the state has no renewable portfolio standard, so little incentive to increase renewable energy capacity at the utility level and no trickle-down incentives for residential solar.
Are there any incentives for going solar in Georgia, then? Yes, depending on where you live.
Georgia State Solar Incentives
|Solar rebates in Georgia||No statewide rebate programs but some local programs offer solar rebates up to $2,500|
|Net metering||Not mandated by law. Georgia Power program is fully subscribed. Some local utilities still offer net metering at avoided cost rate, though|
|EMC solar loans||No statewide subsidized solar loans but some EMCs offer energy efficiency and renewable energy or solar loans|
|Crowdsourced solar discounts||In the absence of state incentives, some Georgians have banded together to get bulk discounts on solar installations!|
Solar rebates in Georgia
There are no statewide solar rebates in Georgia, but customers of Jackson EMC can access the city’s Solar Power Rebate Program. This program provides a rebate of $250 per kW capacity installed (DC), up to 10 kW ($2,500) for home solar installations.
To apply for the solar rebate, you must be a customer of Jackson EMC and must own the residential solar array sited on your own property. This means you can’t claim the rebate if you are leasing a system from a third-party or if the array is located somewhere other than where you live and get service from Jackson EMC.
Note that you have to receive approval for your solar energy system before installation in order to qualify for the rebate program. There are various criteria for eligibility, including needing to use a contractor with NABCEP certification.
To apply for the Jackson EMC solar rebate, complete this solar rebate application form.
EMC solar loans
There are no statewide subsidized solar loans in Georgia but several EMCs offer their own loan programs for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.
Jackson EMC offers a Solar Financing Loan Program. Homeowners may qualify for loans of $500 to $25,000 for photovoltaic (PV) systems or an ENERGY STAR®-qualified solar thermal water heater. Cobb EMC also offers loans for installing PV systems.
Net metering in Georgia
Georgia allows for but doesn’t mandate net metering by utilities. In 2019, however, the state introduced regulation requiring the main state utility Georgia Power to offer net metering with monthly netting to 5,000 rooftop solar customers or up to 32 MW of capacity. The utility very quickly reached this cap and the program closed to new applications in 2021.
There’s a chance that Georgia Power may open up the program again if projects approved and in the pipeline don’t come to fruition. However, for now, there’s no net metering available to new customers with Georgia Power.
This isn’t the only utility in the state though, and while the Public Service Commission (PSC) governs Georgia Power, it doesn’t regulate Electric Membership Cooperatives or EMCs. In fact, EMCs make their own rules, meaning there’s a chance your local EMC may offer net metering or net billing of some kind.
Cobb EMC also offers net metering to its solar customers who apply and are approved for interconnection. The EMC charges a $100 interconnection fee and will swap out your existing meter for a net meter after your solar array passes inspection. Cobb EMC will then pay you for any excess energy you send back to the grid. Currently, new solar customers who net meter with Cobb EMC receive credits based on the Cooperative’s avoided average energy and capacity cost which is currently $0.04815 per kWh. This is less than retail rate but does help some homeowners in Georgia offset the cost of going solar. Every little bit helps!
Other EMCs and local utilities may offer similar compensation for excess energy, and will also have different processes for interconnection. Be sure to check with your utility before installing solar or signing off on any residential solar design. Your contractor should be able to help you design a system that meets interconnection requirements and help with permits and approvals.
Crowdsourced solar and bulk discounts
In 2016, several groups (including the Georgia Climate Change Coalition, Environment Georgia, Georgia Interfaith Power and Light, and Solar Crowd Source) banded together to implement the Solarize Athens Program alongside Athens-Clarke County. Under this program, individual homeowners could join forces to receive a discount on installation through a pre-qualified solar installer. The discounts tended to be around 25% less than the market average and the project is credited with helping to more than double the amount of solar in Clarke County.
Sadly, the project above, and similar projects such as Solarize Middle Georgia, are no longer operational. However, they offer inspiration and ideas for interested homeowners as to how to reduce the cost of going solar in Georgia. You can also work with Solar Crowd Source to start your own campaign!
We did find one active project as of August 2022: Solarize Forsyth, GA. This program has 23 program participants so far and is set to offer up to a 25% discount on solar installations for those who sign up. This particular program will use a local solar installer, Summit Solar, and homeowners can choose between Titan Q Peak Duo solar panels or Silfab Solar Elite panels as well as SolarEdge or Tesla PowerWall batteries.
Final thoughts on state solar incentives in Georgia
There isn’t much appetite for pro-solar legislation in Georgia, at least currently. And, unfortunately, the most vocal pro-solar candidates were defeated in the 2022 state elections.
The good news in Georgia, though, is that residential solar is a lot cheaper than it used to be and there’s plenty of sunshine in the state, especially in southern Georgia (which gets as much sun as Florida!).
In the absence of state incentives, Georgians are wise to look around for crowd sourced bulk discount solar buying programs, EMC incentives and net metering, and low-cost solar loans provided by EMCs and municipalities. This can take some digging but is well worth it, especially as many such programs require approval before you install your system.