Using SRECs to Speed Up Your Solar Payback

Many states require utilities to provide a certain amount of electricity from renewable sources like solar power.  If a utility is unable to meet these requirements, some states allow utilities to purchase renewable energy credits from individuals or companies who are producing electricity from a renewable source.  More often or not, these individuals are producing excess electricity with photovoltaic solar panels.  Utilities can and will buy these Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) from an individual, helping them speed up the payback rate of their solar panel investment.

Tim Carroll, the homeowner we filmed through his PV installation process, participated in an auction-style SREC selling program and was able to cut his expected payback time in half by selling SRECs to utilities.  After federal and state incentives and rebates, Tim’s 6.3 kW PV system cost him $14,000.  In his first year producing his own electricity, Tim saved $800 on his electric bill. Tim received SRECs for excess energy he produced and fed back into the utility grid, which he sold via auction for another $800.  By auctioning off his SRECs, Tim doubled the yearly profit of his solar system, cutting the simple payback time from 17.5 years to 8.75 years.

Tim sold his SRECs at, an online auction for SRECs.  Tim said the sales process was very easy and straightforward.  “It was all very simple.  They asked for a few details about system size, I gave them my annual utility bill, and that’s all they needed from me.” 

Auction isn’t the only way to sell your SRECs.  In many states, you can enter  an agreement with your utility to sell back SRECs for a predetermined rate.  Currently, there are 8 states (DC, DE, MA, MD, NC, NJ, OH, PA) that allow for the purchase of SRECs.  Power producers in an additional 9 states (NY, MI, WI, IL, IN, KY, WV, VA, TN) are eligible to sell their SRECs to these states.  If you don’t live in these states, you can still benefit from SRECs; North Carolina will purchase SRECs from any state.

To learn more about Solar Renewable Energy Credits, visit

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Lee graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in 2009 and has been working in the energy industry ever since. He is currently working for PVPower, a Chicago-based solar company.

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