Renew our Energy Supply

When we’re well on the path of electrifying all of our energy uses, it is time to clean up how we power them. 
photo: Kelly Lacy from Pexels

Sunshine is southern Arizona’s primary renewable energy source. Rooftop solar benefits homeowners and other utility customers by supplying power where it is used, when it is most needed, helping avoid expensive transmission and distribution system upgrades. This is especially important as EVs and household electrification — not to mention increasing summer temperatures — add to overall electricity demand.

How would I pay for solar?
The Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) covers 30% of the cost of a system installed from January 2023 through 2032 as a credit on your tax bill. If your federal tax liability is less, it can be spread over up to five years. In addition, Arizona offers a $1000 state tax credit. See Arizona Solar Incentives. Low income Tucson homeowners can qualify for additional support through the Solar Empowerment Program operated by the Sonoran Environmental Research Institute.

Tucsonans are now eligible to get solar through the fourth Tucson Solar Coop opening March 5, 2024. The coop, organized by the nonprofit Solar United Neighbors, is a great way to work with other Tucsonans, get questions answered and use group strength to leverage a good deal. Special incentives may be available for low-income households. (They have been in past coops.)

Homeowners can go solar by paying up-front, getting a loan, or signing a lease. Direct purchase may result in a payback period of around ten years, during which utility bill savings would gradually return the investment. With typical warranties on solar panels now at 25 years, that vastly reduces about 15 years of electricity costs. Loans are often payable at a rate that, together with reduced utility bills, would not significantly increase monthly household expenses, but the interest would extend the payback period several years. Leases — in which the leasing party owns the system on your roof — are losing popularity, and contract terms can be hard to sort through, but they are some people’s preferred option. By Arizona law, the value solar adds to your property cannot increase property taxes.

Nonprofits now qualify
Cash rebates have become available to nonprofits installing solar since January 2023, with 30% of installed costs covered, and up to 50% for nonprofits that provide low income housing or low-income economic benefits. Learn how your nonprofit can go solar.

Solar from my utility?
Utility-scale solar currently produces about the same amount of energy as rooftop systems in southern Arizona, and local utilities provide ways for customers to reduce their bills while benefitting from, and investing in, this green infrastructure. This is a way for renters or people whose roofs are not fit for a solar installation to go solar.

Southern Arizona utilities’ rate plan options that give customers a way to help accelerate renewable energy deployment may include an up-front charge, but result in lower costs over time. Here are some utility offerings in our region:
TEP
TRICO
UES

Home energy storage
Battery storage is sometimes added to a solar installation to make energy harvested at home useful through the night or to keep a home powered through outages. This can double the amount of household electricity supplied from a rooftop harvest. Batteries charged from solar also qualify for the Investment Tax Credit.

Most storage comes in the form of batteries made for the purpose. The Tesla Powerwall is one example. Probably by sometime in the next year or two, it will be possible for an EV to help power a house in the same way. The battery of an EV with a 250-mile range is likely able to cover two to four days of a typical house’s energy use.

Ready to take a closer look?
To get started, talk with people who’ve tried what you are considering. Contact your utility or solar installers directly. Look for local companies with a good reputation in your community. They will be familiar with financing options.

Next: Adjust our Rhythms

Energy Transformation Home
Electrify Everything
– Electrifying Home
– Electrifying Transportation
– – Home and Transportation Electrification Incentives
Electrifying Work & Leisure (coming soon)
Renew our Energy Supply
Adjust our Rhythms