Living in beautiful Northern California offers residents a wide range of benefits: amazing weather, a centralized location near the Bay Area and the Sierra Nevada Mountains, recreational opportunities for just about everything and the list goes on. Because California is a leader in clean energy and this region gets a whole lot of sun (cities in Placer County average around 250 days of sun per year), solar energy is truly within reach, and more affordable than ever.

It’s true. Harnessing the power from the sun to use around your home has never been more affordable or accessible – especially if you live in Placer County. Prices for materials are down, offering consumers direct savings. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, the cost for solar installs dropped by more than 60 percent over the last decade. And tax breaks and other financial incentives can make the conversion from traditional electricity to solar seamless.

Modern solar energy is not just about lower prices, however. Solar energy is multifaceted in use. In addition to powering your home, solar installs can capture energy to heat water and reduce heating costs. Technologies include photovoltaics, solar heating and cooling and concentrating solar power. Not only that, but adding solar to your home boosts your property value. A recent study showed that buyers are willing to pay a premium of $15,000 for a home that’s equipped with solar panels compared to a home without a solar power system.

Going in, Placer County consumers have options not only on the types of systems, but on how much they can save.

Placer County’s mPower Program

mPOWER is a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program. The program offers financing for both residential and non-residential property owners in Placer County to make energy efficiency improvements, as well as solar and water conservation measures. PACE extends the ability for the financing to be repaid by adding annual installments to property tax bills.

According to the county:

“Examples of projects eligible for mPOWER financing include, but are not limited to, heating and air conditioning upgrades; high efficiency windows, doors and insulation, and cool roofs; as well as indoor and outdoor water conservation measures, such as high efficiency and low-flow fixtures, drip irrigation systems, smart irrigation controllers, and artificial turf. Solar panel installation can also be financed through the program. Funding is available for up to 100 percent of the project costs, with no money down, and terms that are longer than traditional programs—up to 20 years for many improvements—and a low, fixed, interest rate.”

How mPOWER works

Property owners fill out an application for energy/water efficient upgrades. Once approved, they enter an assessment contract with the county. The county will pay for the costs and place an assessment lien or Mello Roos on the property until the loan is paid off (homeowners will notice the charge on their tax bill). You can learn more about this program here.

Rebates and Incentives

The government offers an Investment Tax Credit in the form of a 30 percent credit for solar installations (both on residential and commercial properties).

Read this fact sheet put together by the California Solar Energy Industries Association

How long will the credit last?

Luckily, this credit was extended until 2021. This is not without caveats. The rate will begin to drop from 30 percent to 26 percent in a few years. By 2021, it will be a 22 percent tax credit. It’s unclear what other incentives, if any, will be available beyond that, but this particular credit will shrink to 0 percent after 2021.

With the help of federal and local incentives, and emerging technology that is making solar more accessible and affordable than ever, there may be no better time than now to make this investment. And with Placer County’s ability to make financing a little easier, there is no better place to make the solar switch!

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