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Dirty Energy's Quiet War on Solar Panels

THE HILL — Let's say you're thinking about switching to solar at home, but you're concerned about the start-up costs.

What if you received generous federal and state tax credits? That could help!

Better still, what if you discover that during those hot, sunny afternoons — when you're at work and hardly using any energy at home — you can sell the excess energy your solar panels generate back to the grid at the full residential retail rate?

This practice, called “net metering,” helps cut utility bills and shortens the payback period for solar installation costs. That sweetens the deal even more.

But what if you don’t own a home, or can't afford solar panels?

In some states, you still have options, such as shared solar programs. These allow renters and low-income people to get power from collectively owned solar panels — located, say, on the roof of a public school or other neighborhood building — as I documented in a recent Institute for Policy Studies report.