Clean Power solar incentive create economic growth in Washington

Published on January 27th, 2015 | by Roy L Hales

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Every $1 Of Solar Incentives Puts $2.46 Into The Economy

January 27th, 2015 by  

Originally Published on the ECOreport

Solar incentives are very important in Washington (state). With power less than $0.10/kWh throughout the state, some customers wouldn’t put solar panels on their roofs if it weren’t for the incentive. The state paid out approximately $19.6 million for incentives in 2013. A Solar Washington study found that every $1 of solar incentives puts $2.46 into the economy

Screenshot 2015-01-25 06.10.03

The exact breakdown for the multiplication of that dollar is:

  • $1.30 is paid out as payroll
  • $1.10 in local business purchases
  • Solar companies pay 6 cents back to the state in taxes

“The incentive money the Department of Revenue (DOR) puts into the incentive program more than pays for itself,” said David Nicol, Board President of Solar Washington.

Solar Washington’s survey contains data from 55 of the state’s 102 companies, who completed 786 jobs during the year. That is about 14.3 installations each, which is about 2/3 of the average for solar companies in Washington (19.6 each).

“There aren’t many requirements for being a solar installer, beyond being an electrical contractor. Many electrical contractors have added it to their product offering,” said Nicol.

He added:

That said, there are a number of dedicated solar electrical contractors in the state; the dedicated companies are typically very fast growing, fast moving places. Management has to be flexible, employees have to be dedicated, and both are in solar because they love it. All of the dedicated installers that I’m aware of treat their employees very well, offering a good living wage and benefits. They all compete with each other but the competition tends to be amiable if not friendly.

They may also be more “user friendly” than in states where there is a higher volume of sales. For example, Nicol said installers from California have told him they never put panels on a house if the south roof faces the road. At the customer’s request, some Washington installations have the inverters on the street side of the house even though the shape of the roof hid the solar from the street.

“We intend to conduct this survey every year from now on,” said Nicol “We’re also considering asking companies to give us data on prior years so we can display a trend. The simple fact is that the incentive money the DOR puts into the incentive program more than pays for itself.

To learn more about the survey, or solar in Washington state, go to Solar Washington’s website solarwa.org

Image above courtesy Solar Washington


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About the Author

is the editor of the ECOreport (www.theecoreport.com), a website dedicated to exploring how our lifestyle choices and technologies affect the West Coast of North America and writes for both CleanTechnica and Planetsave on Important Media. He is a research junkie who has written over a thousand articles since he was first published in 1982. Roy lives on Cortes Island, BC, Canada.



  • Joginder Singh Kular

    Forgetting all financial reasons we should go for Solar because it is totally clean, green and ever lasting source of energy.

    • JamesWimberley

      People like you got the ball rolling, and the rest of us should be eternally grateful to the altruistic pioneers. But to convert the whole world’s energy system in 30 years, we now need lots of rich people like Warren Buffett, and poor people running solar shops in Tanzania, who are doing it for the money. That’s why we obsess on costs on this blog. The difference between the survival of civilisation and catastrophe may depend on a few cents per kwh.

  • S Herb

    Do I understand properly that in California it’s still considered unacceptable poor taste for rooftop PV arrays to be visible from the street? This is disappointing!

    • Larry

      If that’s the case it is very disappointing. I spend my winters in the Phoenix, AZ aarea. Many homes are now getting PV rooftop arrays. Plenty of those are visible from the street and no one cares. PV panels are just as aesthetically pleasing as some drab grey or tan cement tile roof is.

      • Don Osborn

        “Nicol said installers from California have told him they never put panels on a house if the south roof faces the road”. As a CA EPC, I have not run across this. Many (if not most) PV systems I see across CA either face the street or are visible from the street. Just more CA bashing I guess.

  • Dallin Paul Jensen

    A fiscal multiplier of around two is pretty common for any kind of infrastructure. I’m all for solar power, but it seems to me nonsensical to support rooftop solar in Washington state as the bulk of the population lives in the cloudiest part of the country where yields from solar energy are even less than those seen in most of Alaska… it would make more sense to install grid scale solar projects in the eastern part of the state or even better yet to purchase solar power from places with the most solar potential like Nevada encouraging further development there.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Strengthen the Pacific Intertie. Use NW wind and hydro along with SW solar together for the entire western seaboard. That will minimize the need for storage and backup.

      In fact, use the Pacific along with the Intermountain Intertie to build a “West of the Rockies” grid that brings in Wyoming wind, Idaho hydro, Nevada and Utah geothermal, even northern Mexico solar and BC hydro.

      • Dallin Paul Jensen

        Exactly, if the US is to get serious about renewables we need to stop thinking local, and think about the smartest investments on a national level.

  • Charlotte Omoto

    The link worked for me. I would not have installed solar last year except that with both state and federal incentives and the falling price of solar panels it would pay for itself in a few years.

    • sjc_1

      I don’t know about the “few years” part. If your system costs $10,000 and you save $600 per year on electric bills, it is more than a few years with finance interest.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Assuming cash up front (to keep things simple) that’s a 4.3% return on investment which is not at all bad for a low risk undertaking.

        BTW, I don’t see Charlotte saying $10k and $600/year. Are those real numbers?

      • Charlotte Omoto

        My electrician and AVISTA both said that it will pay itself off in 4-5 years. I get 30% of the cost off my Federal Income Tax, no sales tax for the cost, net metering for all that I generate, and $0.54/kwh through 2020. Check out http://www.dsireusa.org/ for your state. My system cost more than $10k but I will get way more than $600/year from AVISTA.

  • Will E

    I like this story.
    numbers and dollars explain plain and clear Solar profits.
    goes in all states and cities. install Solar and make a lot of communal profits.

  • JamesWimberley

    Fishy. The link to the study is broken but it looks as the authors are assuming that no solar would get installed without the incentives, which is not plausible.

    It should also be remembered that unless you are at full employment already, all marginal public and private expenditure, useful or not, enjoys a multiplier. The case for solar incentives does not rest on the multiplier, but on the fact that it’s good policy to grow solar and cut carbon emissions.

    • miknel

      Solar does not cut carbon emissions in the NW, We run on Hydro. In fact we have to shut down wind turbines because we have an energy surplus.

      • Bob_Wallace

        You might wish to check you facts. There are fossil fuel plant in the NW.

        • miknel

          Yes there is one in Washington State, but it is owned and operated by Canadians, who sell the power out of region. It is not a part of Washington’s energy mix. It is legally obligated to convert to NG by 2020.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Washington state gets about 19% of its electricity from fossil fuels. There’s room for solar to displace and cut carbon emissions.

            Oregon gets about 30% of its electricity from NG. And Oregon has the Boardman coal plant.

            Idaho has a couple coal plants and three NG plants.

          • miknel

            Boardman is scheduled for termination as is Coalstrip. We can replace those resources with conservation. That’s from the Northwest Power Planning Council. We just do not need massive solar plants, rooftop solar eats up no jackrabbit habitat.

          • Bob_Wallace

            You started here –

            “Solar does not cut carbon emissions in the NW, We run on Hydro.”

            The PNW runs mainly on hydro and wind. But there’s some coal and NG in the mix. You may be swapping out the coal for NG, but the point is when solar comes on line NG gets turned off.

            Using less NG is cutting carbon emissions.

            Efficiency is great. The low hanging fruit. If you can eliminate NG with efficiency then you won’t need solar. I expect we’ll see more solar in the NW.

          • miknel

            Of course we will see more solar, but it is no panacea for Washington State. We have a conservation resource that runs very very deep.
            Anyone serious about solar in Puget Sound ought to be looking toward electrification of transportation. This will cause load growth (the demand for electricity has been flat for the last 30 years) Solar electricity for transportation (even in Seattle) is already cheaper than gasoline (even better, with the Washington State Renewable Energy Cost Recovery Incentive, your solar fuel supply will be free for 30 years, (We are already paying homeowners more than it costs to install here in Washington.)
            The best way to shut down NG is with pumped hydro storage melded with short term battery storage, , There are currently 16 pumped storage projects in the permitting process in the region. Washington has no energy problem, unlike most of the world, but we do have a combustion engine problem.

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