Tax breaks for Pa. residents installing solar now on table, but watch out for scams

Lehigh Valley Live
October 10, 2022

The recently passed Inflation Reduction Act offers a number of incentives that make transitioning to solar power very attractive to homeowners, businesses, and other organizations. But as is the case when dealing with any type of industry, consumers should be careful to avoid unscrupulous or incompetent contractors.

Now, it is our experience here at the Pennsylvania Solar Center — a nonprofit dedicated to expanding the benefits of solar to all Pennsylvanians – that unethical installers are a very small minority of the solar sector. Nonetheless, they do exist, and could possibly soon multiply to take advantage of the many benefits the IRA has to offer.

So number one, just like seeing a doctor, be sure to get a second and preferably third opinion or estimate from reputable, NABCEP-certified solar installers. NABCEP (North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners) is the gold standard for demonstrating competency for solar installation. How does one find these reputable, NABCEP-certified solar installers, you might ask? Well, a directory of them can be found right on our website. The certified installers in this directory are also all based in Pennsylvania, which is a great way to support local businesses and keep resources in our state.

Secondly, ask for references and past projects the installers have completed. Many of the reputable installers will proudly display past projects and glowing reviews on their website – and don’t hesitate to confirm their performance with these clients directly, as well.

Finally, make sure the company you choose has adequate workman’s compensation and liability insurance coverage. They should be able to provide you with proof of insurance upon request.

And of course, this probably goes without saying, but do a cursory Google search of both the company and the company’s leadership team to make sure there aren’t any glaring red flags. Companies can sometimes change names and locations fairly easily, so don’t forget to check out the people behind the company, as well.

Keep in mind that an average home solar system is about seven kilowatts (kW) and would cost on average between $2,500-$3,500 per kW or about $17,500-$24,500 before applying the new 30% tax credit and without energy storage. But it will also vary depending upon the steepness and composition of your roof and how much energy you use. And if a solar company wants to put solar on the north-facing slope of your roof or on a shady part of the roof or property, you might question if they are the shady ones. Consumers can also check out our FAQ page, which answers common solar questions from “How much does it cost to go solar?” to “What sort of maintenance is required?” to see how the proposals they receive compare.

The PA Solar Center also provides unbiased assistance to non-residential organizations through our program called GET Solar, through which we usher businesses, nonprofits, municipalities, schools, and others through the whole solar procurement process.

To recap, the IRA took a huge step forward in helping Pennsylvanians take the power of solar into their own hands. It offers financing tools and opportunities to make flipping the switch to solar well within reach, including that 30% tax credit (or more for commercial systems). But while new opportunities abound, so do some unsavory actors looking to take advantage of them. Fortunately, consumers have a number of precautions they can take to choose a reputable installer, who can in turn help them achieve energy freedom.

Sharon Pillar is the executive director of the Pennsylvania Solar Center, a nonprofit dedicated to expanding the benefits of solar energy to all Pennsylvanians.

Up Next: Our September 2022 Newsletter