For an update on the status of these programs, see my October 18, 2017 post.

Homeowners installing a solar electric system in Rhode Island have two pretty amazing choices when it comes to picking a state program to defray the cost. Fondly known as “REF” and “REG”, they can be a tad confusing. Here’s an explanation of how each works, and a comparison of the two.

REF  (Renewable Energy Fund) Grant

sun anotherThe state of Rhode Island helps pay for your solar energy system with a grant (also called a rebate) of up to $10,000 depending on your system’s size. After that, the federal government pays you 30% of the system’s price in the form of an income tax credit. And the rest is paid for over time with your electricity savings.

Important notes: You need an excellent, sunny roof to qualify for the rebate. And the state only processes rebates every three months, so this option can delay your solar installation.

REG (Renewable Energy Growth) Program

sunUnder this state-approved program, you become a power producer supplying electricity to National Grid. The utility pays you for the electricity you send to them, at a rate set by the state which is currently about twice what you pay for your electricity. (That’s if you go with the 15-year REG; a 20-year option is also available at a lower rate but which pays out more total because it lasts longer.)

Your current set-up remains the same: the utility meter tracks how much power you take from National Grid and they bill you for that monthly. A new, second meter tracks how much power you send them.

The value (in dollars and cents) of the solar power you produce is applied to your electric bill. Depending on how much electricity you use and how much your system makes in a given month, you will get a lower electric bill, a zero electric bill, or a zero electric bill plus a check.

Notes: You  get the 30% federal tax credit with this option, too. The income you get is taxable.

Which Solar Incentive Program is better?

It depends on your financial goals.

  • The REF rebate is better if you want to lower the upfront cost of going solar.
  • The REG program is better if you want the maximum financial benefit over time.

Here’s a more detailed comparison of the two solar incentives. These comments are, however, generalizations. Call us for an assessment of your property and one of our Solar Consultants will provide detailed financial estimates with your proposal, and help you decide which incentive is better for you.

chart-REF vs REG 2


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