Time Running Out on Geothermal/Wind Tax Credits

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Dave Comfort

Subject: Geothermal heat pump

I installed a geothermal heat pump at my residence June 2015 and could not be happier. I live in Pennsylvania and our original air source heat pump, when it worked correctly, never kept me warm in the winter. We ended up having to use auxiliary heat a lot and that was really expensive. The heat pump ceased to be useable a number of years back as the freon would all leak out when we switched from summer to winter settings. The leak could not be found and we looked at putting in a high quality air source heat pump but thought it was very expensive given that they don't work well below 40 degrees.

My geothermal installation was priced about what is mentioned in the article for the heat pump. The drilling cost was about the same as the heat pump in my case with additional landscaping to finish the job nicely. Our well drilling was likely more extensive and expensive than most due to our locale.

Ultimately I am very comfortable in the winter and, surprisingly, the summer also as it seems to work better in "air conditioning" mode than the old air source unit. I am also relieved that we no longer have the concern of refrigerant leakage or inefficiencies due to extreme air temperatures, hot or cold. I highly recommend this manner of heating/cooling. It was only feasible with the federal tax credit (nothing from our state, though). At the end of the day with the tax credit, the system cost probably 3 - 4 k more than the highest end (efficiency) air source unit available, including the drilling, excavation and heat pump.

I really hope that people increasingly embrace this technology (in homes that have forced air) and that congress manages to do something positive for their constituents and approve extension of the geothermal tax credit, not only to save energy and money but to also help save the environment.


Subject: Solar

How available is residential solar energy in this area (zip code 27292), and what price range for installation?

D. Bruce Langmuir

Subject: Wind Power

Interesting article on geothermal, wind and solar, but did not look at the whole picture. The article is fine regarding solar and geothermal.

However, Wind Power unfortunately is NOT viable in many locations around USA. For it to be viable the average wind velocity needs to be high enough, around 10 mph or higher, depending upon the equipment. Therefor where I live in New England, the wind velocity is not an average of even 15 mph, thus installing a wind generator with a tower many feet high is a serious waist of money. - Around Boston I believe wind power is only viable off-shore or on the top of the Blue Hills.

I am a green power enthusiast and have been using solar at my home since around 1980 and we absolutely need to go there a lot faster. We need to look at the whole picture before spending money on green power.


Laura Westbrook

Subject: Tax Credits

Seems that all small businesses would be supporting H.R. 609 as well as H.R. 5167. Am hopeful we get more focus on what is good for entrepreneurial clean energy AND public health/economic/social justice, and take away the stranglehold of large corporate petroleum industry.

Wendy McKendrick

Subject: Solar

We've had solar panels on our home for about a year and a half now. I love knowing we are contributing to a greener planet. We have referred friends who have also installed panels. I hope that the rebates for all renewable energy sources continues.

Tom Stevens

Subject: Green Power

There are several problems with some alternates to fossil fuels.
1) Only some areas of the country have wind or sun more than 4 hours a day. The rest of the time, you must buy power back from the grid, paying the distribution charge of about 10 cents/kWh. Most utilities only pay 7 cents for supplying the grid with extra electricity, compared to what they charge; 10 cents. Your net is 3 cents savings.
2) Most utilities shut off your solar or wind system during a power outage so the repair personnel don't get zapped.
3) The alternate is hydrogen from water. Efficient electrolyzers split water into its gases, which are rocket fuel that can be burned in any modified engine. Cost of electricity for any building is 2 cents/kWh, for installation & maintenance.
4) The payback period for home wind or solar installation is 8 years with the tax discount, 15 years without. At 25 years, the solar panels need replacing due to UV degradation. With 'solar farms', the cost of installation gives power at 2 cents/kWh now, but the distribution charge still adds 10 cents.

Doug Porter

Subject: Green Power-Other Thoughts

Tom some comments on your bullets:
1. here in Colorado with Xcel Energy, we do not pay a distribution charge based upon kWh but a "Service and Facility" charge of $6.75/month. Solar production at your house essentially turns your meter backwards so you save the approx. $0.12/kWh electricity charge.
2. this is true but also true for folks with gas or NG generators that supplement their home during blackouts. If you have a utility approved Automatic Transfer Switch you can stay powered.
3. Not sure what your point here is but $0.02/kWh is not a price residential users pay. Off Peak rates can dip this low and do make a good argument for using this low cost electricity to split the water molecules for H fuel or to create potential energy for future use.
4. Generally correct on payback but at 25 years most solar panels are still going strong. Their manuf. Warranty does end for most at 20 or 25 yrs and while they do degrade they do continue to produce and have substantial residual value after 25+ yrs. The National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) estimates most panels will still be producing 92% of their original production at 20 years. Far from needing replacement.

Continued use of fossil fuels contributes to the accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere and this is a major contributor to global warming. I'm glad to have cost effective alternatives to this negative impact.

Karen Hall-O'Brien

Subject: Wind energy

Forget the tax credit. Creative low interest long term loans and lowering the cost as volume goes up. The big problem will be the utility companies coal and oil and electric.

Infuse wind and solar with styrofoam block / concrete building and you can heat homes with an led lightbulb

Citizens are ready for this. Technology has been available since I was reading the weekly reader in grade school 1956.

We stopped killing whales for whale oil and the world didn't collapse.


Subject: geothermal

We live in a condo community that is approximately 20 - 25 years old, and the developer put in geothermal in most of the homes here. However, our geothermal system uses water from three wells. This system might be a little more expensive to run because we have to use pumps to pump the water through the geothermal system. Because of this, I'm not sure it is cheaper to use, but we at least all share in the cost of the maintenance. Since moving here a year ago our electric bills have been very low. It is a very even heat/cooling. We have had all kinds of heat/cooling in our many homes, and I prefer the geothermal system.

Douglas Deutsch

Subject: Tax credits for alternatie energy

I was wondering about tax credits for commercial projects. We are considering Solar/wind powered Cell Sites. Some locations do not have access to electricity / power from the grid, making renewable energy as a legitimate power source.

John Williams

Subject: Solar Rebates

Unfortunately I'm leasing my solar system from Solar City, and THEY are getting the rebate, not me, while their monthly bill increases annually. Unfortunately, I'm with APS, and due to the huge number of add-on charges APS tacks on my bill, I have yet to really see a savings.

Miriam Young

Subject: new metal roof

I have shingles on my roof now and I have a problem with the heat tape in as much that the ice dams get bigger and bigger every year. if it is at all possible I would like to get a metal roof put up there. The ceilings in the bathroom and backroom are stained

Rick Miller

Subject: Geothermal installation 2008

I built a retirement home in 2008 with a 5 ton Water Furnace Geothermal unit - I don't believe a geothermal tax credit was available in 2008 - I have never tried to file for a tax credit - do I have any options or just unfortunate timing??

Bill Racolin

Subject: Expiration of current tax break for solar

Your sentence that starts 5 lines above your photo of the geothermal underground installation needs clarification. Does the 30% credit remain in effect from now until 1/1/'2020 when it becomes 26%? Does it then drop to 22% on 1/1/2021 and does the 22% remain in effect until 1/1/2023 at which time the tax break becomes zero? Therefore, the 30% break remains in effect for the rest of 2016 and all of 2017, 2018, and 2019. I ask for this specificity because I have been advised by solar installers that the 30% credit expires 1/1/2017 and that 28% was then the savings in 2017. We did not discuss the savings thereafter.

Where can I find this law in the US Code?

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I second the original question (still unanswered). Speaking as someone who logged in today to try to find an attorney, I see this category as one that's exactly what I have my Angie's List membership for:

1. It's important that I find a good one
2. I'm not an expert enough to know myself who is a good one
3. The industry is full of advertisements and misinformation
4. I wish I knew what experiences other people have had

I don't care about lawns--I planted mine in clover and don't have to mow it. When I do need to mow I use a rotary Fiskars mower, which is great--or a scythe. That's right--a scythe (the European type, which is smaller, and it's very good exercise). Gas-powered mowers, chemical fertilizers and weed killers--all nasty stuff that gets into everyone's air, soil, and water. I'm sure my neighbor doesn't like my wildflowers, semi-wild pockets of fruit bushes, and unmown areas and yes, dandelions (I have 10 acres) but that's too bad. It's better habitat for wildlife, especially the pollinators on which our food supply depends. I think this obsession with the Great American Lawn is a waste of time and resources. Plant some food instead.

I'm not sure Angie et. al. want you to have a complete answer to this question. By re-subscribing at the Indiana State Fair in 2012, I think I paid $20.00 per year for a multi- year subscription. Maybe even less. At the other extreme--and I hope my memory isn't faulty about this--I think the price, for my area, for ONE year was an outrageous $70.00. And they debited me automatically without warning. I had to opt out of that automatic charge. I like Angie's List, but if some of the companies they monitor behaved the way they do in this respect, they'd be on some sort of Pages of Unhappiness. I'll be interested to see if this comment gets published or censored out of existence.

That's very difficult to answer without seeing the house. As one poster said, the prep is the most important part. On newer homes that don't have a lot of peeling paint, the prep can be very minimal even as low as a couple or a few hundred dollars for the prep labor.

On a 100 year old home with 12 coats of peeling paint on it, then the prep costs can be very high and can easily exceed 50% of the job's labor cost.

A 2100 sq ft two story home could easily cost $1000 just for the labor to prep for the paint job. That number could climb too. Throw in lots of caullking  or window glazing, and you could be talking a couple or a few hundred dollars more for labor.

Painting that home with one coat of paint and a different color on the trim could run roughly $1000 or more just for labor. Add a second coat  and that could cost close to another $1000 for labor.

For paint, you may need 20 gallons of paint. You can pay from $30-$70 for a gallon of good quality exterior paint. The manufacturer of the paint should be specified in any painting contract. Otherwise, the contractor could bid at a Sherwin-Williams $60 per gallon paint and then paint the house with $35 Valspar and pocket the difference. $25 dollars per gallon times 20 gallons? That's a pretty penny too.

That was the long answer to your question. The short answer is $2000 to $4000 and up, depending upon the amount of prep, the number of coats, the amount of trim, and the paint used.