Financing

Florida—the Sunshine State—has more solar potential than all states but California and Texas, yet it ranks 12th in the nation for installed solar capacity. For a state that has more to lose from sea level rise and other climate impacts than any other, expanding the use of carbon-free energy sources like solar photovoltaic (PV) power could be considered a high priority.

Individuals, businesses, and governments that can obtain electricity at competitive rates from solar PV systems not only enjoy the environmental benefits of solar power, but also financial gain.

Until recently, solar photovoltaic energy systems made little financial sense, except perhaps in very isolated locations where other sources of energy were even more expensive—the International Space Station, for example. Of course, individuals, businesses, and institutions with a strong interest in pollution-free energy could pay the premium cost for solar PV systems, and many did.

Over the last several years, however, the price of solar PV panels has dropped so much that the price of electricity generated by those panels is approaching parity with traditional generation types (coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear). Just since the beginning of 2011, the average price of a completed PV system has dropped by 33 percent.​

In states with higher-than-average electricity costs, a particular solar PV installation may need just a small assist from one or two of the incentives described in this document in order to ensure a strong, favorable financial calculation. In states with fairly low-cost electricity, such as Florida, a combination of policy levers and financial incentives may need to be applied as a catalyst to build market momentum so that to make solar PV systems can be truly competitive with, or even cheaper than, conventional power sources.

This report seeks to explore and explain a variety of financing options for all levels of governments, as well as homeowners and businesses, but it focuses primarily on actions local governments can take under existing state and federal law. Although it is hoped that local governments, the Florida Legislature, homeowners, and businesses will choose to employ some of these strategies to expand solar PV energy in Florida, this Plan does not take a position on which options are best.

Financial Options

Financial Options Team Leader: Jason Liechty
JLIECHTY@broward.org
954-519-0310

Financing options used by all partnering jurisdictions will be reviewed and documented in a revision to the Go SOLAR–Broward Financial Options Best Management Practices. With input from all partners and not-for-profits dedicated to Solar, the Best Management Practices document will be revised in a Florida Solar Financing Action Plan. The team will seek formal support of, or agreement to, the plan by the State Energy Office.

Broward County Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously on October 8, 2013 to establish a commercial and residential Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Program. The County received permission to engage vendors to administer the programs which will be available once Broward County enters into these agreements in aboutsix months. PACE programs allow property owners to pay for the cost of energy improvements and wind mitigation measures to their homes or businesses through a voluntary assessment on their property tax bill. This assessment stays with the property when it is sold since the new owner continues to receive the benefit and cost savings of the improvements.

Solar photovoltaic energy offers many potential benefits including:

  • Lower electricity costs for homeowners, businesses, and governments
  • Creation of local jobs and economic development
  • Solar energy is a completely renewable resource
  • Producing energy without producing global warming pollute the way that oil or coal does
  • Energy security
  • Energy independence since the “fuel” for solar panels can’t be bought or monopolized
  • 92 percent of Americans think it is important to develop and use solar energy

While the costs of solar panels have reached all-time lows, the up-front cost of installing solar can still be high. To assist in finding ways to finance solar, Go SOLAR Florida has created the Go SOLAR Florida Financing Action Plan: A Menu of Options. This document compiles research for best practices regarding solar financing listing a summary of findings with links to reports, documents and references.

Publications

Solar Financing Action Plan Pros and Cons Matrix of Financial Options
Florida Solar Financing Action Plan Pros and Cons Matrix Version ofFinancing Action Plan
Local Businesses Solar Financing Info Card Local Businesses Solar Financing Info Card
Business Solar Financing Info Card-Front Side (PDF-1,084KB) Business Solar Financing Info Card- Back Side (PDF-1,084KB)
Homeowner Solar Financing Info Card Homeowner Solar Financing Info Card
Homeowner Solar Financing Info Card - Front Side (PDF-1,482KB)
Homeowner Solar Financing Info Card - Back Side (PDF-1,482KB)
Local Government Solar Financing Info Card Local Government Solar Financing Info Card
Local Government Solar Financing Info Card - Front Side(PDF-1,702KB) Local Government Solar Financing Info Card - Back Side (PDF-1,702KB)