“When you go solar you are longer a passive customer of the electric company, you are now an active power producer subject to many of the performance requirements the power company has. Third Sun Solar takes care of all the permitting involved, and provides cutting edge equipment that ensures that any potential glitch is automatically thwarted. And everything performs as advertised.”
“When we built our house, we tried to be as energy efficient as possible but we’re always looking at alternative sources. With costs coming down and the tax credit, the actual expense became a no brainer with payback being a pretty short period. Being tied to the grid with a smart meter for back up alleviated any worries of large battery packs or monitoring usage and alleviated that concern. The job they did was fantastic and the results are great with my utilities being all but paid for in short order. Couldn’t be happier with the decision. “
Solar Energy in Columbus, Ohio
“After considering solar for several years, I convinced myself I was waiting for the technology to achieve a critical performance that would represent the right time to move forward. However, after working with Third Sun Solar, I believe a significant piece of the puzzle was finding the right company with which to work. Everyone at Third Sun was very willing to answer questions and explain the technology as well their process down to the smallest details necessary for me to make the right decision. I have looked at several companies but never felt the situation was right. After the first conversation with Third Sun, I knew I was going to move forward. This is a great company to work with on what is a major commitment. ”
Solar, Corrupt Utilities and Ohio State Representative Larry Householder
Even if you are not a solar policy wonk like me you are likely reading headlines about the $61 Million bribery and corruption scandal that is rocking Ohio politics. It turns out that the millions of plain old “legal” campaign contributions have not been sufficient for a dying monopoly to prop up its old, dirty and uneconomic power plants. We are learning more and more details of the web of corruption and secret deal making behind the passing of Ohio’s House Bill 6 in 2019. This was the bill described as “Worst Energy Bill of the 21st Century” that locked Ohio ratepayers into billions of dollars of subsidies to utilities while at the same time gutting our already watered-down support for energy efficiency and clean energy, both proven to save Ohioan’s money.
The headlines are just the beginning…
They mark the end of the covert phase of the investigation, and now begins the subpoenas, plea deals and testimony of the public phase. This is a really big deal and will rock Ohio politics and energy policy for years to come. We urge a complete repeal of HB 6 as well as a review of other important actions in the Householder era, including the appointment of a leading critic of clean energy to lead the PUCO (Public Utilities Commission of Ohio).
This is a big deal for solar
Ohio is the fifth largest electricity consumer in the country, and our state government’s apparent servitude to entrenched utilities is reversing potential progress despite the great potential benefits that a shift to clean energy would bring. In a different era we were focused on the future not the past. In 2008 Governor Ted Strickland signed SB 221, a bi-partisan effort to remove utility monopoly protections and modernize and diversify Ohio’s utility grid.
As Ohio has reversed course, other Midwestern states have continued moving toward clean energy in pursuit of multiple benefits: creation of installation jobs that cannot be off-shored, a diversified energy mix that offers grid resiliency and attracts companies that demand a clean energy mix, and finally the renaissance of manufacturing in this sector.
I think by this point you have figured out who “Goliath” is in this tale: the enormous entrenched utility industry (with profits extracted from Ohio going out of state and out of the country). The “David” in this still unfolding story is the rest of us: the thousands of customers that have invested in their own solar on homes and businesses, the thousands of solar companies such as Third Sun Solar and all of the families and local economies their payrolls support, the thousands of citizens being poisoned by air pollution of these ancient dirty power plants (primarily poor people and people of color in marginalized communities).
How will this story end?
Will David prevail? It is up to all of us to “be David” and demand justice and progress. Overturning HB6 is an initial step, but getting back on track toward clean energy in Ohio will take a lot more work and most importantly our demanding that our legislators work for us the voters rather than campaign donors (and bribers). Rise up and take your power back; let’s take down “Goliath” once and for all and set our state and world on a path to a clean and sustainable future.
Image courtesy of Ohio Citizen Action and the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.
Solar Power World magazine’s annual list includes Athens, Ohio based solar installer
Athens, Ohio, July 23, 2020 – Third Sun Solar, Ohio’s leading full service residential and commercial solar installation company has been once again named on the Solar Power World Magazine’s Top Solar Contractors of 2020 list. Every year Solar Power World magazine releases industry information from hundreds of national solar installation companies. Companies are categorized by state, service (EPC contractors, development, construction/installation, electrical work, and/or rooftop specific installations) and market.
Third Sun Solar installed has 21,237 kW of solar for more than 1,000 clients over the past 20 years and is ranked #1 in Ohio and #50 in the nation by the Solar Power World Top Solar Contractors in 2020 for lifetime residential solar total installed kW. The company’s 2019 total installed kW ranks them at #233 on the national list that includes all companies serving all service types.
“It is great that the Third Sun Solar team has ranked again among the top solar contractors in the nation,” Said Geoff Greenfield, President and Co-Founder of Third Sun Solar “Ohio has tremendous potential to harness solar energy and our ranking is testament to Ohioans’ growing interest and eagerness to invest in clean energy technology.”
2019 was one of Third Sun Solar’s busiest years. The company installed 2,352.8 kilowatts of solar across the state of Ohio and in neighboring states and includes a growing number of battery storage projects. In the past 20 years, Third Sun Solar has installed 21,237 kilowatts of clean energy. These solar projects are a mix of applications serving residential, commercial, non-profit, agricultural, industrial, and small business clients.
Solar Installation in 2020
Due to COVID-19, the company’s 2020 kW installation numbers were impacted when Third Sun elected to pause installations for the safety of staff, customers, and the public. When installations began again in May, Third Sun had completed a robust COVID-19 internal protocol complete with mask-wearing mandates, handwashing stations among other precautions. Persevering through this historic pandemic, Third Sun has found new ways to connect with customers and innovate by adding energy storage solutions to their list of offerings. The company expects to make up for the lost time and finish the year with an even larger number of installed solar than 2019, as they pursue their mission of Accelerating the Shift to Clean Energy.
About Third Sun Solar
Third Sun Solar is Ohio’s leading full-service solar installation company, providing top quality design and installation since 2000. We serve residential and commercial clients in Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus, and beyond. We are a fully insured and licensed electrical contractor. Our team is committed to delivering safe high-performance systems and top-notch customer service. Third Sun Solar is a woman-owned business founded by Michelle and Geoff Greenfield almost two decades ago. The business is dedicated to using business as a force for good in the world. Our mission-driven business is a certified B-Corp, existing not just for profit, but for people and the planet as well.
About Solar Power World
Solar Power World is the leading online and print resource for news and information regarding solar installation, development, and technology. Since 2011, SPW has helped U.S. solar contractors — including installers, developers, and EPCs in all markets — grow their businesses and do their jobs better.
Third Sun Solar Featured on 2020 Top Solar Contractors List Solar Power World magazine’s annual list includes Athens, Ohio based solar installer
Athens, Ohio, July 22, 2020 – Third Sun Solar, Ohio’s leading full service residential and commercial solar installation company has been once again named on the Solar Power World Magazine’s Top Solar Contractors of 2020 list. Every year Solar Power World magazine releases industry information from hundreds of national solar installation companies. Companies are categorized by state, service (EPC contractors, development, construction/installation, electrical work and/or rooftop specific installations) and market.
Third Sun Solar installed has 21,237 kW of solar for more than 1,000 clients over the past 20 years and is ranked #1 in in Ohio and #50 in the nation by the Solar Power World Top Solar Contractors in 2020 for lifetime residential solar total installed kW. The company’s 2019 total installed kW ranks them at #233 on the national list that includes all companies serving all service types.
“It is great that the Third Sun Solar team has ranked again among the top solar contractors in the nation” Said Geoff Greenfield, President and Co-Founder of Third Sun Solar “Ohio has tremendous potential to harness solar energy and our ranking is testament to Ohioans’ growing interest and eagerness to invest in clean energy technology.”
2019 was one of Third Sun Solar’s busiest years. The company installed 2,352.8 kilowatts of solar across the state of Ohio and in neighboring states and includes a growing number of battery storage projects. In the past 20 years Third Sun Solar has installed 21,237 kilowatts of clean energy. These solar projects are a mix of applications serving residential, commercial, non-profit, agricultural, industrial and small businesses clients.
Due to COVID-19, the company’s 2020 kW installation numbers were impacted when Third Sun elected to pause installations for the safety of staff, customers and the public. When installations began again in May, Third Sun had completed a robust COVID-19 internal protocol complete with mask-wearing mandates, handwashing stations among other precautions. Persevering through this historic pandemic, Third Sun has found new ways to connect with customers and innovate by adding energy storage solutions to their list of offerings. The company expects to make up for lost time and finish the year with an even larger number of installed solar than 2019, as they pursue their mission of Accelerating the Shift to Clean Energy.
About Solar Power World
Solar Power World is the leading online and print resource for news and information regarding solar installation, development and technology. Since 2011, SPW has helped U.S. solar contractors — including installers, developers and EPCs in all markets — grow their businesses and do their jobs better.
Bruce and Hylie Voss have been long term environmental advocates. When they moved to Athens three years ago, they had the opportunity to do a solar project on their home. They installed solar in January of 2019 and have been harnessing the sun’s solar energy ever since.
Hylie’s parents, Mary Anne and Don Flournoy have been longtime Third Sun customers, supporters, and advocates. The Flournoys were in the first wave of Third Sun Solar’s customers and had solar installed on their home in 2006. For Bruce and Hylie, it seemed natural to continue that legacy. When it was time to build their home, they wanted to incorporate solar into the construction process from the ground up.
Three years ago, the Voss’s moved to Athens from Texas. The environmental momentum in Athens is different than Texas. Bruce says: “It was great to come into a community that was aggressively promoting science and we felt that we needed to do our part.”
Additionally, The Voss’s were excited by the sleek technology, which has improved in performance and aesthetics since Third Sun’s early installations. The panels on their home are matte black and more subtle and efficient than the original panels that Hylie’s parents had installed back in 2006.
What did they learn?
As a new build project, they found benefits in starting conversations with Third Sun in the building phase. They were able to ensure they had enough roof space and a plan for where the lines would go. They worked with Athens based Bart Kasler Construction, who was instrumental in helping them to make sure they were building with the panels in mind.
Even with the pre-planning, the solar panels weren’t put on for 6 months. Why? It was a new house so they wanted to carefully consider what their energy use would look like to determine the size of the system. The data gathered during those 6 months proved to be an accurate sample of their annual energy usage. A little over a year later, the system is producing exactly as predicted. Their Solar Consultant, Jamey Jones, has been with Third Sun for 12 years and has lots of experience sizing solar energy systems for existing homes and new build projects.
What has been the best part?
Bruce said: “Anyone who comes to our home often asks about the panels – is the system doing what you want them to do?” They are excited to share information and their journey with others.
What obstacles do others face when considering solar?
Solar is still a long-term payback and there aren’t immediate returns on the investment. If you aren’t going to be a long-term resident in one place, solar may not make as much sense for you. However, if you plan to be living for a long time in one place – both the financial and environmental payback make going solar an easy choice.
Like Third Sun, the Voss’s feel that the need to transition to a clean energy economy is vital. Any step our community members can take in that direction is important.
Going solar is incredible – and one of the early steps on the path is to decide if you want to re-roof before solar or wait. Solar panels last for many years. They are warrantied at 25 years and often last 40+ years. Doing the roof work now or removing and reinstalling for a re-roof down the road deserves careful consideration, and every one of our clients makes their own decision. We are here to provide accurate information along the way. We often get asked, “if we roll the re-roof into the project can we get the tax credit on the whole thing”? Read on for what we tell our clients on this subject.
Upfront Tax Disclaimer
We are not tax professionals & this post does not constitute professional tax advice or guidance. We have been in the solar market for 20 years, so we share our solar expertise first and foremost. Ultimately, the decision to take the cost of your re-roof on the Investment Tax Credit form is a choice between you, your family, and your tax professional.
At this time one of the largest incentives for solar is the federal Investment Tax Credit. The investment tax credit, otherwise known as the solar tax credit will allow you to deduct 26% of the cost of installing a solar system from your federal taxes in 2021. It drops to 21% in 2023 then down to 0 for homeowners after that.
Can a taxpayer include the entire cost of a new roof in conjunction with the solar panels?
The answer: No
Don’t listen to any contractor or solar installer who tells you differently. We don’t want your family to be audited by the IRS. And we especially don’t want you or your family to have to repay the ineligible tax credit, plus interest, especially when you aren’t expecting it. While we have been around for twenty years earning our trustworthy reputation, we are sorry to see a growing trend of new “solar entrepreneurs” that are willing to cut corners on their integrity along with the quality of their work. Third Sun Solar will do neither.
Tax regulations can be tricky to understand for those of us who haven’t studied the IRS code. That’s why we’ve taken the bits only relevant to roofing and re-roofing. We take a deep dive here.
The IRS guidance for filling out Form 5695, explicitly states:
“Qualified solar electric property costs.
Qualified solar electric property costs are costs for property that uses solar energy to generate electricity for use in your home located in the United States. No costs relating to a solar panel or other property installed as a roof (or portion thereof) will fail to qualify solely because the property constitutes a structural component of the structure on which it is installed. Some solar roofing tiles and solar roofing shingles serve the function of both traditional roofing and solar electric collectors, and thus serve functions of both solar electric generation and structural support. These solar roofing tiles and solar roofing shingles can qualify for the credit. This is in contrast to structural components such as a roof’s decking or rafters that serve only a roofing or structural function and thus do not qualify for the credit. The home doesn’t have to be your main home.”
When you go online, you’ll find different opinions interpreting the question posed.
Below we’ve done some research to debunk some of the biggest arguments for including the re-roof cost when you take the solar investment tax credit.
Problem 1: While the current iteration of the IRS guidance is clear, past iterations have been vague.
The eligible expenses section reads:
“Some solar roofing tiles and solar roofing shingles serve the function of both traditional roofing and solar electric collectors and thus serve functions of both solar electric generation and structural support. These solar roofing tiles and solar roofing shingles can qualify for the credit. This is in contrast to structural components such as a roof’s decking or rafters that serve only a roofing or structural function and thus do not qualify for the credit.”
The IRS did not include these sentences in versions of the code from prior years. However, they are in there now. The last sentence clearly states that structural components of a roof do not qualify for the solar investment tax credit.
This is one key reason you see so much conflicting advice online.
Problem 2: Just because someone successfully claimed the tax credit for a wrong amount and didn’t get audited doesn’t mean they were correct in doing so.
The IRS form requires no proof of purchase, receipts, contracts, or invoices to prove how much you spent or what expenses were for. The form itself makes it easy to get away with anything. So, many people do. We don’t advise doing this!
Problem 3: Using the logic that “the roof supports the panels; therefore they must qualify” doesn’t work…. your entire house could qualify then, too, right?
You can’t have a roof without a house. So could you build a house, put solar on it, and claim it all as the solar tax credit?
In Conclusion: trust your experts, not someone trying to make a sale
Is the person telling you to use the solar tax credit for your roof a salesperson wanting your sale?
If it’s someone who just wants a sale, this exhibits low integrity. It’s a selfish approach and not based on facts, is not in your best interest, and probably says a lot about who you are dealing with. While it would be nice to take the tax credit against both costs, they aren’t eligible legally. Third Sun Solar can point you to the appropriate form, but how you fill it out is between you and your tax professional. In short, we are not tax professionals and do not offer tax advice. We encourage you to speak with yours to understand how you plan to use the solar investment tax credit.
Third Sun Solar has been helping homeowners and businesses in Ohio and surrounding states since 2000. The shift to clean energy is accelerating quickly as costs have gone down and solar efficiency has gone up. In most places in the world, solar is now less expensive than any other electric source!
The goal of this guide is to help answer some questions you may have as you begin your solar journey. Help us achieve our shared mission to accelerate the shift to clean energy!
Many of you have been asking about the different ads you see on Facebook, and if we offer the same. We’ve addressed some of the most common questions we get below.
- Free solar – Some solar companies misleadingly use the word “free” but what they’re referring to is a long-term low-interest loan. Often, they offer what appears to be a very low-interest rate, but they secretly add 15 – 25% to the cost of the system to buy down the rate from their loan partner. It’s important not to assume that a lower rate is a better deal, as the full turnkey cost of the system is likely to be higher plus the lifetime cost of interest payments.
- Money back when you go solar – There is no “special program” or government issued solar stimulus program. To receive money back when you purchase your system, you’re simply borrowing more money than a solar system costs and getting some of it back.
- New local incentives are making solar more accessible now – The truth is, there aren’t any local or state incentives for solar in Ohio, and that’s the way it’s been for a while now. In fact, recent legislation has taken aim at making solar even more inaccessible. While this legislation didn’t affect the economics for residential solar, it’s an indication of the priorities of our state government. Until 2021, the Federal Tax Credit for solar remains available to homeowners and stands as the largest cost savings to homeowners. We aren’t sure if there will be state or federal incentives on the horizon after that, which makes now the perfect time to take advantage of what is available.
We could offer a lot of what you see advertised online, but we pride ourselves in making sure our customers are successfully set up for as many true tax credits as possible. We advise our clients to work with their tax professional to determine their credits. We would never want to see any of our customers set up for negative tax audits.
The Research Stage
Know your options. One of the best parts of the solar market right now is that there is a lot of information available to help you weight all of your options.
- Research online – Check for reviews on Google, Facebook, Solar Reviews and the Better Business Bureau. Look for any complaints. Consider if the company has a certified electrician on staff, which you can find out here. Consider how long the company has been in business and if they’re likely to be around to honor their warranty.
- Solar is visible –if you have friends or neighbors who own a solar system, ask them where they got it! How has their experience with the system been so far? How was the company the selected as an installation partner?
- Ask questions – Solar Consultants are trained solar educators. Ask as many questions as you need before you make the commitment. If a potential installer has difficulty or isn’t willing to give you clear answers to your technical or logistical questions, we recommend getting a second opinion.
Solar Payment Options
We can help you choose the option that best works for you: cash purchase, conventional financing, or a special solar loan.
We work with specialized solar loan providers such as the Clean Energy Credit Union and Mosaic. These lenders use just the solar equipment as collateral and do not secure the loan with your home equity. They are fast and easier to work with.
- Multiple term options for repayment, with a 25+ year warranty for solar
- Take advantage of tax credits to reduce price of system
- No prepayment penalty
- Solar is considered an asset to house, reflected at resale and property evaluation
Reap the rewards of energy generation for the lifetime of the installation when you purchase your solar energy system upfront.
Cash purchase is always available to customers. For homeowners equipped to pay for their system up front, cash purchase has the highest return on investment.
The investment tax credit, otherwise known as the solar tax credit will allow you to deduct 26% of the cost of installing a solar system from your federal taxes. This is about a $4,000 – $8,000 average savings for homeowners who go solar in 2020.
The solar tax credit will remain at 26% for solar systems completed and placed in service before December 31, 2020. The tax credit will be reduced to 22% in 2021. After 2021 there will be no solar tax credit for residential customers. However, a 10% credit for commercial entities will remain.
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