HCBE Faculty Articles

Is the Sun Still Shining on Investments in Solar Electric Property

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The CPA Journal

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Two years have passed since this article's authors looked at whether an investment in residential solar energy property made financial sense ("Shining Light on a Solar Energy Investment," The CPA Journal, September 2010). Since then, a lot has changed. For example, federal stimulus money for many state-level programs has been spent, equipment costs have decreased, and the underlying technologies have improved. In 2010, the attraetiveness of a solar electric investment varied widely among the four states analyzed (New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut). Have circumstances changed significantly within the individual states? The short answer is "yes."

CPAs advising individuals who are considering investments in residential solar electric property need to be well informed about the current environment. The analysis below begins with a review of the 2010 payback period for a solar investment in each of the four states and the reasons underlying the differences among the states. Next, the changes in the financial parameters of the investment decision are identified. Finally, the results of the updated analysis are compared to the results from two years ago. The shift in opportunities across these four states alone serves to illustrate the dynamic environment of renewable energy and the need for relevant, reliable data on which to base solar energy investment decisions or advice.





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