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The Sunetric Blog

Blue Planet Foundation: Renewable Energy Tax Credits Are Great for the Hawaii Economy

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Blue Planet Foundation, a Hawaii nonprofit committed to ending the use of fossil fuels locally and worldwide through education and policy programs, has just released a monumental study that demonstrates exactly how hugely beneficial the Renewable Energy Tax Credit is to our local economy.

The study, an updated examination of the impact of tax credits on our local economy by economist Dr. Thomas Loudat, explains in detail how a single dollar invested in the Renewable Energy Tax Credit for a commercial installation becomes more than $60 in returns. The infographic below, taken from Blue Planet’s report, explains the split:

As you can see from the chart, most of the savings come from offsetting the delivery of fossil fuel oil to our islands, which is still responsible for more than 90% of our electricity and the reason that Hawaii pays more for its energy than any other state in the country. With these dollars saved by solar, they are put back into the local economy, stimulating growth and the job market.

The report also explains how solar’s economic benefit is a lasting and increasingly beneficial one:

  1. Because solar installations continue generating energy every year, the financial boost is felt for the lifetime of the system, years after the tax credit is first redeemed.
  2. The price of oil is on the rise and shows no signs of slowing. “If the price of oil rises to $200 per barrel,” explains the study, “the state’s rate of return will increase from 10.8% to 15.3%” and “the number of additional local jobs created over the 30-year life of an 118kW system will increase from 84 to 111.”

The report sums it up perfectly:

Solar tax credits are effective in stimulating private investment, drawing federal dollars into our local economy, and putting people to work. Dr. Loudat’s analysis clearly shows that Hawai’i’s renewable energy tax credit yields net fiscal gains, producing additional tax revenues and other benefits that are far greater than the initial expenditure by the state. It’s a smart investment in a better, cleaner tomorrow, a future we value beyond dollars and cents.

We encourage you to read more at the Blue Planet Foundation website and download the study PDF here.

Hawaii Solar Energy Association Elects New Board

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Hawaii Solar Energy Association is a non-profit organization founded in 1977, made up of installers, distributors, manufacturers, auditors, and financiers of solar water heating and photovoltaic systems, most of them locally owned and operated!

The HSEA strives to be the voice of solar in Hawaii, and they work directly with the utility companies, the government, and the community to create jobs in the green economy, save homeowners money, and save the environment. (Learn more about the HSEA.)

On March 4, the HSEA announced a new board of directors for this year. Our own special projects manager Gabriel Chong was elected president of the board.

“I’m honored that HSEA members have placed their trust and confidence in this new board, which includes a mix of past officers and directors who have been instrumental in advancing the solar industry in Hawaii along with new board members who will bring a fresh perspective and approach going forward,” added incoming president Gabriel Chong.

We are proud of him and excited for the year ahead. For additional information on the HSEA, the board of directors, or to become a member of the Hawaii Solar Energy Association, visit

Announcing the Waialae Elementary Energy Art & Poetry Contest Winners

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

In February, students at Waialae Elementary School took part in an energy conservation art and poetry contest sponsored by Sunetric. Watch two of the winners on KHON2!

In 2011, we installed a 138 kW photovoltaic energy project at Waialae Elementary School.

And in January, we traveled to the school to meet with the students, show them photos of their new PV system, and teach them about the importance of renewable energy.

We also kicked off the Energy Art & Poetry Contest—students competed on a grade level basis to submit a poster, song, or poem that spoke to environmental and energy problems and what they could do to be part of the solution.

And KHON2 has two of the winners performing a poem and a song. Watch the clip below!

We are incredibly proud of all the Waialae Elementary School students and their efforts. We can’t wait to be part of more projects like this. Our keiki are our future, and we have a responsibility not only to educate them about their ’aina, but to listen to them when they teach us!

The photovoltaic energy system at Waialae Elementary generates an average of 19,500 kWh of electricity per month, yielding monthly savings of nearly $1,000. With energy and cost savings, the school is estimated to prevent annual greenhouse gas emissions from 32 passenger vehicles and CO2 emissions from 375 barrels of oil each year.

Solar and Small Business: The Benefits of Installing a PV System

Monday, April 9, 2012

Sunetric CEO Alex Tiller was interview for Hawaii Business Magazine’s Expert of the Month feature. He spoke about the benefits of photovoltaic for small business owners, specifically the tax incentives available.

Read the full text of the article below or at the Hawaii Business website:

Q: As a small business owner, what are the tax benefits of installing a photovoltaic system?

A: A photovoltaic system is an incredible investment for Hawaii business owners. By installing and owning a PV system, you are protecting all or part of your power use from future electric rate increases. In Hawaii, electric rates have increased by an average of 6 percent each year since 1991.

In addition to offsetting rising electricity costs, tax incentives, when coupled with depreciation, can offset up to 8o percent of the upfront cost of a commercial PV system. How quickly those credits apply depends on your tax situation, so it is always best to consult a tax professional in addition to your solar provider.

Here is a closer look at commercial incentives available this year:

Hawaii’s Renewable Energy Technology Income Tax Credit

This allows businesses to claim a state in come tax credit of 35 percent for the cost of the PV system. In 2009, Gov. Linda Lingle signed into law Act 154. (Senate Bill 464, Session Laws of Hawaii 2009), allowing customers the option of converting their income tax credit into a refundable tax credit at a rate of 24.5 percent.

U.S. Treasury Tax Credit

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 allows taxpayers eligible for the federal business energy investment tax credit to take this credit equivalent to 30 percent of the installed cost of a PV system. This credit is available through 2016.

Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS) Depreciation Deduction and Special Depreciation

PV systems placed into service in 2012 are eligible for a bonus depreciation of 50 percent, which means up to 50 percent of the cost basis of the project can be depreciated in the same year it is placed into service. In addition, the remaining o percent of the cost basis is also eligible for MACRS accelerated depreciation and, when combined with the special depreciation, allows up to 6o percent depreciation in the first year alone.

Alex Tiller
CEO, Sunetric

Not Enough Sun? Think Again!

Monday, April 2, 2012

One concern we hear often from those considering solar is whether there is enough solar in their area to make the investment worthwhile. The short answer: absolutely!

For the long answer, let’s take a look at this map, put out by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory1–click to zoom in.

NREL Solar Map

Taking a closer look at this map, we get a clear story of just how perfect for solar the United States is:

  • With the exception of Alaska, the entirety of the continental United States and Hawaii fall within the 1400-2500 kWh/m2/year range.
  • Germany has the largest solar market in the world2, and the photovoltaic resource potential for the entire country are in the lowest ranges of the chart.

The takeaway here is that the United States is above-average territory for photovoltaics (PV), and we have only just begun to realize the true and total potential for solar energy here.

No matter where in the country you’re located, there is enough sun for solar to work. PV is a smart choice–one that will save you money and save the environment we depend on.

NREL maintains monthly solar maps on their website if you’d like to learn more. Contact us if you have any questions or are interested in going solar.

  1. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory, or NREL, is a government organization in the Department of Energy “solely dedicated to advancing renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies from concept to commercial application.” NREL has helped the US renewable energy industry become the strong force for sustainability it is today, and their research is a great boon to the environmental health of our nation. 

  2. Reuters: German solar boom strengthens critics of subsidies 

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