If you’re considering going solar on your home, we suggest installing solar photovoltaic panels sooner rather than later—we expect increased uncertainty in the US solar market in 2018 due to several recent developments.

What is not changing? The 30% Federal tax credit will not change until January 2020, when it drops to 26%. The state tax credit of $1000 is not expected to change.

What is changing? Two major changes are coming. First, the state’s Solar Renewable Energy Certificate (SREC) program, which helps to pay system owners for the energy that they generate,will be phased out in early 2018. It will be replaced by a new state incentive system called the SMART program, which is estimated to bring the solar system owner approximately 1/3 less in incentive payments.

Second, a recent decision by the US International Trade Commission (USITC) found that US solar panel manufacturers have been harmed by cheap solar panels imported from certain foreign countries. The commission will recommend actions (import tariffs) in November. The Trump administration is then expected to issue specific tariffs by January 2018. The imposition of tariffs will most likely cause panel prices to increase significantly. Since the US has only a few solar panel suppliers, this tariff is expected to harm the overall US solar industry according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the main trade group for the US solar industry.

What should we do now? The solar industry has shown great resiliency over the past decade, but 2018 begins a period of uncertainty. Green Newton urges residents considering solar projects to complete their projects by early 2018. With the sunset of the state SREC program and the likelihood of import tariffs, overall project costs will probably increase.

Green Newton still offers preferred pricing on residential solar through the Newton Goes Solar program. For more information, see www.NewtonGoesSolar.org or call the Newton Goes Solar hotline at 617-614-7892.

by Craig Forman, GN Board Member and Chair of Newton Goes Solar, a GN Initiative