Solar power tax credit to expire - WNEM TV 5

Solar power tax credit to expire

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SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) -

If your utility bill is burning a hole in your pocket, take a look at this alternative.

Solar power can save you some serious money and using it can entitle you to a tax credit.

However, time is running out to take advantage of that.

"It's almost like it's kind of free. I'm not paying the utility anymore," Jeremy Zinn said.

Zinn is a big fan of solar power. He installs them for a living and he also has panels on his roof and he's saving money big time.

"We've got an IRA, we've got a 401K, but we're always going to have this electric bill, and I said why don't we get rid of that," Zinn said.

So how much does it cost to install a system similar to the one on Zinn's house?  The I-team crunched the numbers. 

A 5 kilowatt system costs about $22,000,  but before you even blink you get a 30 percent tax credit which takes $6,600 off. That cuts the purchase and installation price to $15,500.

"It's like dollar for dollar. As long as you spend it in, you're going to get that back. So that's huge, 30 percent of the cost of that system you're going to get back," Zinn said.

In many cases, consumers take out a loan to pay for their solar system, much like taking out a loan for a car. 

"You're probably going to pay a bank for a 12 year period about $150 a month. And remember what I said about that day one savings, that savings is going to grow over time," Zinn said.

According to solarfuture.com, solar systems are expected to last up to 30 years. So when TV5 did the math, it showed a savings of $32,400 for the 18 years after your 12 year loan. Which is an energy savings of at least $30,000 when compared to traditional power. 

Another advantage to solar power is that it adds to the resale value of your house should you decide to sell later.

Debbie Vercnocke has worked for Michigan Solar Solutions for six years. She said the costs of solar panel systems have dropped 50 percent since she started and the initial investment varies quite a bit.

"It really depends on what your usage is. The costs can range anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000 up to $50,000 or $60,000 residential. It just depends on your usage," she said.

The solar panels the company uses are from Suniva in Saginaw. That gives the overall Michigan economy a boost.

"We try to use as much Michigan product as we can. The solar tilt is Michigan made, our labor is Michigan made," Vercnocke said.

Meanwhile, Zinn doesn't care if utility rates climb because it won't affect him. 

"As the electric rates go up and up and up, my savings go up," he said.

The tax credit expires at the end of next year.

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