Keith Knowles: Hi! I am Keith Knowles with LiveLight Energy. I am a licensed Solar Contractor and an authorized installer for SolarWorld, America's largest manufacturer of solar panels. I'm here to help you learn how to select the solar contractor that meets your needs and today we are going to talk about permits.
Most cities and states require a permit to install solar panels and their requirements and costs very widely depending on where you are. Your solar contractor should include the costs in their proposal to you. Before your system is installed, your contractor will go to the authority having jurisdiction usually at city hall and apply it for the necessary permits. In some cases your local utility may have additional requirements or paper work for you to sign. If you don't know whether your contractor has gotten the permits, be sure to ask. Most incentive paper work will require the permit information at some point anyway. Solar energy is encouraged by the federal government in many US states. So there are local incentives available that can help offset the cost of the system, sometimes up to the 75%.
The database of state incentives for renewable energy is maintained by the good people of North Carolina State University to help you see what incentives are available to you. Just about everybody in the US, qualifies for a 30% federal tax credit, your tax accountant or tax attorney can help guide you through the process of qualifying for that and other incentives. Just click on your state to see what incentives are available where you live.
The site gives a pretty good summary of each incentive and links to more information. If you have trouble sorting it all out, your local contractor or utility can help you understand what incentives are available and what you can qualify for. With most rebates, you want to make an advance reservation to ensure you receive the incentive before you start work.
Be sure that you understand how to apply for each incentive and how money will get to you. Tax credits are part of your next tax return, so you won't see that until you file it next year. May state rebates can be either paid to you or assigns to the contractor who takes the amount off of your final bill. Be aware that some rebates can take more than a month to receive. Now that you have your paper work and permit in place, you are ready for system installation and commissioning.