While not entirely new technology, over the last few years, the solar energy industry has seen what many have rightly called a meteoric rise. Solar panels, or some form of green energy, is now the law on every new home built in France, Germany has a freeway with embedded solar panels, and Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla has merged with solar city and unveiled a stunning new solar roofing system.
And yet, if you ask most people about the state of solar energy, you are likely to get a variety of answers – which may or may not be true.
Take, for example, Florida’s recent Amendment One, which was presented as a boom to Florida’s lagging solar industry. While it promised to legalize the sale of solar roofing systems – which is currently illegal in Florida – hidden in the fine print, it sought to remove net metering – which allows customers to sell back energy overages to the utility companies – and impose stiff fees on solar customers.
The takeaway? Solar energy, and the state it’s in, is confusing. So let’s make it a little less confusing. If you want to know what is really going on in the solar world, here are three websites you should be following.
Solar Energy Industries Association. Through advocacy and education, the SEIA’s aim is to champion the use of clean affordable solar in America by expanding markets, removing market barriers, strengthening the industry and educating the public on the benefits of solar energy. Their website is packed with industry updates, information about consumer tax credits, state solar policies and even solar financing. They also host several informative blogs, press releases, and helpful resources.
Energy.Gov. A part of the Energy Department’s website, the solar arm offers information about the science behind solar, resources to help you save energy, and a variety of updates on the Sunshot solar initiative, such as lowering the cost of solar by 75 percent by 2020, helping electric co-ops integrate solar, and the seven day race to solar. The mission? To leverage America’s abundant solar energy resources – driving research, manufacturing and market solutions to support widespread expansion of the nation’s solar market.
EnergyStar.Gov. While Energy Star is a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) voluntary program that helps businesses and individuals save money and protect our climate through superior energy efficiency, it is the best place to get the straight story on federal tax credits for solar energy. Their website offers to most up to date information on just which credits can be used, how to apply them, and when they expire. They also have several helpful resources for consumers such as a rebate finder based on zip code, a product finder, a list of energy efficient products and even tips on energy savings for homes and businesses.
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