With over 28 thousand certified solar installations by 2020, Connecticut is one of the small states with the fastest-growing solar industry of the decade. Thanks to many benefits offered by the state, the high electric rates of the utilities, and many remarkable solar installers. With over 878 MW of solar power, Connecticut ranks 20th in the nation and generates about 2% of its electricity demand from solar generation.
Over the past decade solar has grown exponentially in the state mainly because of the introduction of the Connecticut Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) in 2012, and the benefits and incentives offered by the state which we will breakdown further upon.
Things You Should Know About Solar in Connecticut
Connecticut counts with only two investor-owned electric distribution companies or EDC’s (electric utilities), Eversource Energy and United Illuminating Company (UI). And they are regulated by the Public Utility Regulatory Authority (PURA) which supervises and controls the utility rates of the state and is responsible for licensing electric suppliers.
As the state is one of the 17 deregulated states of the US, the electricity market opened up in 1998 for different electric suppliers other than the utilities, where to get your electric energy from. This means that despite only existing two EDC’s in the state, you can change and compare different electricity rates from licensed electric suppliers in order to get the best deal.
Regardless of the open electric market, the electric rates of Connecticut rank as one of the highest in the US, which together with the state government benefits and incentives makes the Connecticut solar industry one of the fastest-growing in the nation.
Is it worth going solar in Connecticut?
As mentioned, electric rates in Connecticut are normally found on the top 5 of the highest of the nation, averaging 22 cents per kilowatt-hour or about 170$ of monthly electricity bill.
The average 6 kW solar systems cost about USD13,000 to USD 17,000 , before any local and federal incentive. After incentives, the solar system can cost as low as USD10,000 for the same 6 kW system. Making the payback times of your inversion turn around 6 to 7 years.
The solar panels and the inverter, the heart of your system, have a normal lifespan of 25 years, and a warranty of at least 10. By the time the 25 years pass, the total savings of your system oscillate can go from USD50,000 up to USD90,000 for a system with a good solar irradiance and low shade values.
One of the most important things to look out for when comparing different quotes and equipment is their warranty and the installer warranty, as it will ensure the correct functioning of your system, no matter the encountered problems.
How much energy will my solar system generate?
Connecticut is not one of the states that receive the most solar radiation, but along with its low precipitation rates, the state averages about 4-5 kWh/m2/day, according to the University of New Haven.
Which roughly translates to about 4 hours of fun sunlight production of the max capacity of your solar system. Meaning that for a 6 kW system, the average energy production will be average 24 kWh/day, or about 720 kWh/Month.
The average monthly energy consumption of a house in the state is 752 kWh, meaning that a small system such as a 6 kW one, can supply much of the energy required by your home.
Going with a bigger solar system is no problem, as the state count with a very efficient Net Metering system, meaning that any extra energy produced by your panels, can be redirected to the grid, and reduce your electric bill.
If the production of your house surpasses your energy consumption you will be paid by your electric supplier by the end of the year. This type of agreement are the one you need to ask your electric suppliers once you go forward with solar.
Loans, Lease, and PPA
When a solar system is installed in a home in Connecticut, there are several payment solutions or solar plans to help you with the decision.
- Solar Purchase: In which you simply buy the solar system upfront. By this scheme, you are the full owner of the solar system, and you are eligible for several federal and state incentives.
- Solar Loan: Again, you purchase your solar system, but with a monthly paid loan established by the installer, the utility, or a specialized solar finance company. You are still the owner of the system, making you eligible for the incentives.
- Solar Lease: A contract in which the company leases the panels installed at your home for a fixed monthly payment. In this modality, the company remains as owner of the system.
- Power Purchase Agreement (PPA): Pretty much as a Solar Lease but with a flexible payment, based on how much solar electricity do the panels produced.
Solar Incentives in Connecticut
As we promised, let’s breakdown the solar incentives available in Connecticut.
Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE)
One of the main setbacks on starting new solar projects is the upfront cost of the equipment and installation of the system. This is why in 2012, the Connecticut legislature passed an Act that authorizes the Connecticut Green Bank, a publicly funded institution whose purpose is to achieve a cleaner, less expensive, and more reliable energy sources, to offer the financing program “Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy”, known as C-PACE.
This program offers up to 100% payment of the upfront cost of a qualifying solar project of building owners and commercial contractors, and lets you pay it over time through a voluntary benefit assessment on your property tax bill. Which lets the lenders offer low-interest rates thanks to the low risks of the agreement.
The C-PACE attaches to the property and not to the business or business owner, as it is non-recourse and transfers with the sale of the property.
Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS)
The RPS is a state policy that requires the electric providers to obtain certificates that prove that a percentage of their transact energy it’s generated through renewable energy sources.
These certificates are called Renewable Energy Certificates or REC, and they are created for each Megawatt-hour (MWh) of energy generated from certified renewable sources (Approved by PURA).
A typical 5 kW rooftop solar system, on average, generates about 6 MWh a year, which translates into 6 RECs by the end of the year and an average of about 240 $ (Around 40$ per REC).
On the state, the New England Power Pool Generation Information System (NEPOOL GIS), creates, tracks, and issues the REC. And they can be sold directly to the electric company on a “bundle”, or they can be “unbundle” and be directly sold in the regional wholesale market separately.
Residential Solar Investment Program (“RSIP”)
The Residential Solar Investment Program or RSIP, is another program of the Connecticut Green Bank, to facilitate access to solar systems to the residents of Connecticut. It counts with two types of incentives the EPBB and the PBI.
Both incentives will be available until 350 MW of solar residential power is installed in the state. The goal was already achieved and was extended to another 32 MW. Currently, up to the latest update (12/21/2020), the installed capacity of the state sits at 355 MW.
Expected Performance-Based Buydown (EPBB)
The incentive consists of providing a portion of the upfront cost of the system, directly to an eligible contractor on your behalf, once the installation is completed.
The EPBB is authorized for systems up to 20 kW, and it consists of paying 0.358 $ for each Watt of your system’s maximum capacity, up to 10 kW. And from 10 KW up to 20 KW, the contractor will be paid 0.207 $ per Watt.
For example, for a 12.5 kW system the rebate paid to the contractor will be (10 kW * 0,358) + (2.5 kW * 0,207), equaling and estimated of 4097 $, once the installations and connections are completed.
Performance Based Incentive (PBI)
The PBI incentive consists of reducing the upfront cost for homeowners that decide to lease a solar system. The PBI comprises paying the Third-party PV System owner based on the actual performance of the system in the course of 6 years, 0.03 $ per Kilo-watt-hour generated.
The PBI has the purpose of reducing the monthly cost for the homeowner throughout the leasing period.
Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit
And of course, we can’t forget the Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit or ITC for people that buy a solar system with a cash purchase or with a solar loan upfront.
The ITC is a dollar-to-dollar reduction in the income taxes that a person or company has to pay the federal government. And it is based on 26% of the amount invested on the eligible solar property.
The percentage of tax reductions steps down from 26% by 2022 to 22% up to the end of 2023, and to 0% for residential systems and 10% for commercial ones, passed 2023.
Best Solar Companies in Connecticut: Our Top Picks
The following list was compiled from the best solar installer company review pages, taking special attention to the following ideas:
- Customer reviews and satisfaction with the service.
- Company experience in solar projects.
- Products quality, hardware, and equipment.
- Partnerships with major solar brands.
- Warranty offered, differentiating qualities.
Venture Solar Review
Venture Solar is a local solar installer with one of the best review ratings online. It is a Northeast solar panel installer with over 4000 installations across New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Jersey.
The company uses USA-made LG panels and Enphase microinverters in all its installations and is the only LG Platinum Pro Partner in NYC. The company offers several payment options such as leasing, several finance schemes, and of course upfront purchase, making the purchase process costume friendly.
Venture Solar is a local Northeast company so it is familiarized with all local incentives of Connecticut, assuring the maximum saving for your solar project.
Momentum Solar Review
Momentum Solar started as a New Jersey local residential solar installer in 2013, and expanded rapidly up to 7 different states by date 2020, including all the Connecticut state.
The company reviews highlight amazing sales teams, a very professional job on residential systems, and unprecedented customer service. Momentum offers several financing programs, lease and loan options, making them a great option for local solar systems.
On its website, you can consult a free quote for your home solar project.
Green Power Energy Review
Green Power Energy LLC, is an NJ based company that focuses on tur-key projects for residential and commercial customers. Founded in 2009, GPE offers over 10 years of experience in the design and installation of solar systems of all scales.
They have partnerships with Panasonic, LG and are certified installers for Tesla’s Powerwall. They count with a NABCEP certificate and have a BBB, A+ grade.
With experience in residential, commercial, and agricultural solar projects, Green Power is capable of all scopes of work, offering an industry-leading 25-year warranty on all labor, as well on several of their products.
Trinity Solar Review
Trinity Solar is a national installer founded in 1994, with over 1500 employees that operate across 8 states.
They have installed over 35.000kW only in New Jersey, making them one of the most experienced companies in the Northeast of the nation. Trinity’s specialized departments handle every aspect of the solar project including design, permitting, interconnection, installation, and finance.
With over 50.000 residential installations, they are accredited with a NABCEP certificate, silver LG pro partnership, and BBB rating of A+.
Of course, SunPower would appear on the list. This enormous US Company is a nationwide solar panels manufacturer and installer, offering complete package solutions that include battery storage.
SunPower achieves great online reviews across Connecticut, offering complete and tailor-made solar project designs to its customers. As a huge corporation SunPower has several dealers and installers across the nation, for Connecticut, Ion Solar Pros, completes local installations.
SunRun and Vivint Solar Review
SunRun is the biggest installation company in the USA, and its presence on the Northeast wing of the nation just was made even stronger with the full purchase of Vivint Solar, another giant of the industry with a presence in over 23 states.
How this venture will affect the way to the customer is yet to be found, but by the moment the two companies still offer their design, engineering, and installations services for all scales of solar projects in Connecticut.
Harvest Power Review
Harvest Power is one of the best local companies in New York, that as recently as 2017 expanded across the Northeast of the Nation. Currently, they operate in New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts.
Their highlights on online reviews are their professional work on residential and commercial installation. Been Tesla’s battery licensed installer you can expect no less than quality from their services.
They offer purchase and leasing options for both residential and commercial installations, allowing the customer to avoid the upfront cost of the system.
The company PlugPV started as an installer for several national solar companies, but currently, they offer many services, sell their products, and offer several financing and maintenance options for your home, in over 5 states, including Connecticut of course.
They count with NBACEP and SEIA certifications, are a certified Tesla Powerwall installer, and offer great quotes for several scales of projects thanks to their partnerships with LG, Generac, and SolarEdge.
Over the years PlugPV has made several financing partnerships with companies such as EnerBank USA, or Sunnova Energy Corp, that allow them to offer several financing options schemes for their quoted projects.
The company Greenskies, is a well stablished company with over 220 MW of installed solar power over 370 sites across the US, including small to large commercial, hospital, universities and nonprofits organizations projects.
Founded on 2008, the company has brought together several key partnerships that help them develop mayor projects over the years. Among them, some key partners are Neo Solar Power, a Taiwanese Solar cell manufacturer, and Clean Focus Corporation, a specialized financing company that owns and finance all size of renewable energy projects across the US.
What differentiates Greenskies from many other companies is their ability to approach all stages of a solar project with incredible professionalism and key engineering aspects, including post maintenance and supervision tasks.
PurePoint Energy Review
PurePoint Energy is a small local Connecticut company founded on 2007. This company has amazing online reviews across different platforms, and has over 6.9 MW of solar power as portfolio.
The company started offering local farmers cost efficient, and optimal solar solutions. Currently it offers a broad spectrum of solar projects for residential and commercial customers.
Among their projects, they offer energy storage as a certified Tesla Powerwall installer across different counties, and an energy management platform with their partnership with Lumin Smart Energy Management, a great tool to overview and supervise energy production and control.