The complete list of Maine solar incentives and tax credits for 2023, plus how to take advantage.
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The Pine Tree State gets less sun than average in the U.S. but with a high cost of electricity, Maine can still be a great place to go solar. Assuming your panels won’t be shaded by pine trees, and assuming a 1.8% rate of inflation, we estimate that a home solar array in Maine could save you nearly $64,000 in electricity costs over a 25-year period.
Factor in the federal tax credit of 30%, a state property tax exemption, and one-for-one net metering that might change in 2023, and now’s the time to go solar in Maine.
Maine Solar Incentives
|State solar loans||Subsidized, low-cost loans for solar, up to $15,000 for up to 15 years, with interest rates currently set at 4.99%|
|State property tax exemptions||Renewable Energy Investment Exemption for value added to a home by solar installations|
|SRECs in Maine||Maine’s 2019 Renewables Portfolio Standard created Generation Information System (GIS) certificates which are similar to SRECs|
|Net metering||Net billing, where customers receive one-for-one credits for surplus electricity. Credits carry forward month to month and expire at the annual billing date|
State solar loans in Maine
The State of Maine offers a Home Energy Loan program for homeowners looking to install solar energy systems. Homeowners who qualify can borrow up to $15,000 for up to 15 years, with interest rates currently set at 4.99%.
To qualify, homeowners must be residents of Maine and have a minimum credit score and debt-to-income ratio, depending on the type of loan. Applicants for some types of solar loan must also be free of recent bankruptcies, foreclosures, or repossessions.
SRECs in Maine
Technically, Maine doesn’t have an SREC market. However, the introduction of a Renewables Portfolio Standard in 2019 led to the creation of NEPOOL Generation Information System (GIS) certificates which are similar to SRECs.
GIS certificates are awarded based on the number of kWh of eligible electricity generated. Information is limited for how this works with residential solar, but one utility, Knollwood Energy, offers some guidance. KE notes that solar installers provide the technical information to the utility which then registers new solar producers with NEPOOL to receive RECs.
For now, there are no clear ways to sell your RECs generated by your home solar array. However, most SRECs can be stockpiled for several years and then sold at a later date. As such, it makes sense to register your solar energy system with NEPOOL as soon as it is installed.
State property tax exemptions in Maine
Maine offers a Renewable Energy Investment Exemption, i.e., a solar property tax exemption. This policy allows homeowners to avoid paying property taxes associated with value added by installing solar. Taxpayers must apply for the credit by April 1 of the first year the exemption is requested.
Net metering in Maine
In 2019, Maine returned to a Net Energy Billing (NEB) policy. For a while, Maine had a gross metering policy which wasn’t especially favorable to customers as it metered all energy produced by rooftop arrays, even if that energy was consumed by the home owner.
With the return to net billing (AKA net metering in this instance), customers receive one-for-one credits for surplus electricity. These credits are carried over month to month to offset future bills. Credits expire at the end of the year, however.
In Maine, then, it is wise to size your solar array to match your household’s needs and no bigger. Otherwise, you’re liable to generate energy credits you don’t use.
Maine’s Public Utility Commission (PUC) is, however, looking to change rates for net metering by the end of 2022, based on a law introduced by the state’s governor in 2021. So, if you want to lock in your current rates now, act fast and get some solar quotes from local installers in Maine.
Maine has two investor-owned utilities, both with net billing programs: Central Maine Power and Versant Power.
Final thoughts on state solar incentives in Maine
Maine’s Public Utility Commission (PUC) has made mention of introducing rebates for solar energy storage systems, so you might want to install solar panels soon but hold off on storage for now. That way, you can make the most of the federal tax credit and current net metering rules in Maine. Chances are that any rebates would still be less than the 30% tax credit, however, so if you are thinking about battery storage, and you can get a good price for bundling storage with solar, go for it!