Federal Solar Tax Credit: Do I Focus on the Credit or the Cap?

I’m struggling to decide whether to focus my solar water heating system marketing with a highlight on the 30% tax credit as opposed to a $2,000 figure. Frankly I would love to charge $6,700 per residential SHW install, but wanted your view. – Compiled from several e-mails

My personal view, is that the solar water heating industry must sell the credit, not the $2,000 cap. By selling higher cost systems just so the taxpayer maxes the cap, would be like a car salesperson selling an overly large SUV to the consumer who needs an in-city car for two. An oversized, over-cost system does nothing for the consumer, and we as an industry should sell a system that is scaled right for each individual building owner. My solar water heating system, installed in 1985, cost $3,000 (installed), and with the (smaller) tax credit, paid for itself in 6 years – but when included in my second mortgage, was cash-flow positive that day it was installed — that’s the bargain to crow about. — Scott Sklar
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Scott, founder and president of The Stella Group, Ltd., in Washington, DC, is the Chair of the Steering Committee of the Sustainable Energy Coalition and serves on the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, and The Solar Foundation. The Stella Group, Ltd., a strategic marketing and policy firm for clean distributed energy users and companies using renewable energy, energy efficiency and storage. Sklar is an Adjunct Professor at The George Washington University teaching two unique interdisciplinary courses on sustainable energy, and is an Affiliated Professor of CATIE, the graduate university based in Costa Rica. . On June 19, 2014, Scott Sklar was awarded the prestigious The Charles Greely Abbot Award by the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) and on April 26, 2014 was awarded the Green Patriot Award by George Mason University in Virginia.

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