Financing End-Use Solar Technologies in a Restructured Electricity Industry: Comparing the Cost of Public Policies
Renewable energy technologies are capital intensive. Successful public policies for promoting renewable energy must address the significant resources needed to finance them. Public policies to support financing for renewable energy technologies must pay special attention to interactions with federal, state, and local taxes. These interactions are important because they can dramatically increase or decrease the effectiveness of a policy, and they determine the total cost of a policy to society as a whole. This report describes a comparative analysis of the cost of public policies to support financing for two end-use solar technologies: residential solar domestic hot water heating (SDHW) and residential rooftop photovoltaic (PV) systems. The analysis focuses on the cost of the technologies under five different ownership and financing scenarios. Four scenarios involve leasing the technologies to homeowners in return for a payment that is determined by the financing requirements of each form of ownership. For each scenario, we examine nine public policies that might be used to lower the cost of these technologies: investment tax credits (federal and state), production tax credits (federal and state), production incentives, low-interest loans, grants (taxable and two types of nontaxable), direct customer payments, property and sales tax reductions, and accelerated depreciation.