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Moss garden in Koyoto

So overused that it was closed to the public in order to save it.



Renewable energy tax credits and rebates seem to come and go in a very arbitrary way. A check of federal, state, town, seller, installer and utility web sites (some of which are listed below) is the best before any purchase. Also get several estimates and talk to equipment owners. The qualifications, rules and paperwork are also a moving target.

Why should you get tax credits and rebates for renewables? For the same reason we get them for children, education, major illness, business expenses and so on. The credits and rebates are an attempt to get folks to do things that will help society as a whole.

Residential solar photovoltaic (PV) installations get a 30% federal tax credit which will end on December 31, 2016. The work must be done by a professional in order to get incentives. If the tax credit exceeds your tax, the credit can be carried over to the next tax year. The Mass. state rebate has ended and been replaced by very low interest loans which one can arrange from some banks and credit unions starting at the end of this year. Some installers who offer loans included may have higher interest rates or charge more for the panels and hide the extra cost in the loan. AS a benchmark, last year I paid $8,625 for a 2.3kwh PV system. The Massachusetts solar renewable energy credits or SRECs will still get you a check several times a year. The amount depends on the size of your system and the current auction price.

 Electric and hybrid electric cars get up to a $7,500 depending on the battery size. These expire after the manufacturer sells 200,000 cars. If the credit exceeds your tax for the year of purchase you loose the excess. Switching retirement money from a tax free IRA to a Roth IRA can increase your taxes. Massachusetts offers a $2,500 rebate at the time of the electric car sale. Just over 40% of the three million dollars remains at this writing.

There are also rebates or credits for all manner of home appliance from air conditioners and hot water heaters to furnaces and all sorts of heat pumps. Check your utility first. In South Hadley SHELD offers $25 rebates on the following - clothes washer, refrigerator, freezer dishwasher, room a/c, dehumidifier, and air purifier. A heat pump hot water heater nets you a $300 rebate. These currently end on December 31, 2015 but have been renewed in the past. Massachusetts has many programs via the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. The IRS offers tax credits on a host of items but watch the rules. A heat pump water heater is another $300. The in the last few years IRS was often slow in posting the needed tax forms on line. As a result you may have to wait till March to do your taxes.

The cost of all of the above is within reach of motivated middle income folk. Now there are some possibilities for the low income people. There are used and leased electric cars. The low interest loans for solar can be paid back at a rate lower than your obsolete electric bill. The Mass. CEC’s woodstove change-out program offers extra money for those with lower incomes. In California their carbon tax funds go to low income renewables. It is a start.