Eversource New Hampshire: solar incentives, payback period & more

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Are you a customer of Eversource New Hamphire who is interested in using solar energy in your home? Well, you’re in luck; this guide will help you understand the options available to you when it comes to getting solar panels and connecting them to the grid. 

The basic process to go solar as an Eversource customer is fairly simple. Here are the steps:

  • 1. Learn about solar panels and how they work to decide if solar is right for you
  • 2. Look for quotes from installers in your area
  • 3. Be sure to ask lots of questions and choose an installer
  • 4. Get solar panels installed on your home and interconnected to the grid
  • 5. Begin receiving bill credits from Eversource via net metering

The whole process can take anywhere from 4-5 weeks to a few months to complete, and your installer should give you a clear picture of the timing when you get started with them. Delays can sometimes arise when waiting for the utility company to come give final permission to operate the system on their grid.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here. Let’s cover Eversource solar rules and New Hampshire solar incentives, then answer some commonly asked questions.

Find out how much a solar system will cost for your specific home
 

Here’s the gist if you’re short on time:

Going solar with Eversource at a glance:

  • Eversource is required by state law to allow homeowners to connect solar panels to their homes and to the grid.
  • The company will track the solar energy you produce and the grid power you consume, then give you credit if that production exceeds consumption, through a process called net metering.
  • The bill savings from solar pay back the initial cost of investment in 7-8 years for Eversource customers.
  • There are incentives to reduce the initial cost that are available from the federal and state governments. Eversource also offers a battery incentive program.
  • If you get solar panels now, you’ll be in the net metering program through the end of 2040. Its net metering program will likely change (or even go away) for installations completed in 2023, so it’s important to start shopping around for solar quotes now.

How solar works with Eversource 

First, let’s start out with some good news for Eversource customers in New Hampshire: the company is required by state law to allow residential customers to connect their solar panels to the electric grid and to participate in net metering

Net metering allows you to earn credit whenever your solar panel system generates more power than you need. You then apply that credit to help cover your future electricity bills. Most solar homeowners draw power from the grid at night when their panels aren’t producing power, and use net metering credits to offset those costs.

New Hampshire net metering credits are worth a little less than the retail rate for electricity (or in other words, how much Eversource charges you for electricity), but your solar panels can still save you a bundle on your power bills. 

After your solar installer does their work, Eversource will replace your existing utility meter with a two-way “net meter”. Eversource keeps track of these numbers and will include the below new information on each monthly bill:

  • Gross Purchases: This is all the energy you consume from the grid when your solar panels are producing less than you need, measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh)
  • Net Purchases: If you drew more total kWh from the grid than your solar panels sent to the grid, you’ll be charged the per-kWh rate for the difference
  • Net Sales (aka surplus): If you send more kWh to the grid in a month than you use during, Eversource will record a monetary credit for net sales that will be applied to your next month’s bill

This is the way solar pays back its cost—through energy bill savings. In New Hampshire, the average solar payback is around 7 or 8 years. The solar installation will last for at least 25 years under warranty, so once the initial cost is paid back, you get close to two decades of “free” electricity.

Of course, the payback time depends on how much you pay for solar, how much you save for each kWh, and whether the initial cost was reduced by incentives.

Does Eversource offer solar incentives for New Hampshire homeowners? 

Eversource itself does not offer any solar rebates or incentives, but there are incentives customers of Eversource can take advantage of.

First is the federal solar tax credit, which for 2022 is equal to 30% of the cost of installing a solar panel system. You can get that money back on your taxes the year after installation. 

New Hampshire also offers local jurisdictions the option of exempting solar panels from property taxes. There is strong evidence that solar panels increase home value, and those cities in New Hampshire that choose to exempt that value from taxation offer homeowners another chance to save!

While Eversource doesn’t offer any rebates or incentives for solar per se, it does offer a battery storage program called “Connected Solutions”. If you choose to get a home solar battery, Eversource will pay you annually for the ability to use some of its capacity during certain high-usage events each year. More details can be found in this article about solar battery incentives

Is it better to own your solar panels, or lease them?

In New Hampshire, you can choose whether you want to own your solar panels through a cash purchase or solar loan, or you can choose “third party solar,” (or in other words, a solar lease) where a solar company installs a system on your roof and charges you a monthly payment for the energy. In this situation, your new, lower energy bill plus the solar payment is less than you were paying for electricity before.

In general, we recommend owning your solar system. Why? Because system owners are the only ones who can apply the federal tax credit and reap the benefits of increased home value. 

A third-party arrangement can be favorable for homeowners with low income, such as retirees, because they can’t take advantage of the federal tax credit that makes owning a more economical choice. If you have income, owning is almost always a better option. 

Learn more: Is a solar lease right for you?

How long do I have if I want to sign up for Eversource net metering? 

Sadly, all good things come to an end. New Hampshire net metering has long been a good thing, and so of course it will come to an end, and unfortunately, that end will come soon. 

People who sign up for Eversource net metering now will enjoy the benefits described above through the end of 2040. Solar owners will then get service through whatever tariff (aka rate plan) is available at that time.

The New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission (PUC) is planning to open a proceeding on the next net metering program sometime in 2022, which will be informed by a study of the benefits of the current program, conducted by a consulting firm called Dunsky Energy + Climate Advisors

It is possible that there will be an entirely new program to replace Eversource net metering that starts on January 1st, 2023. For that reason, we encourage you to consider installing solar this year.

Final word: Is solar a good deal in New Hampshire? 

There is a lot of complicated information above, and we’ve only just scratched the surface in this article. But to put it as simply as possible: going solar with Eversource as your utility company is very likely a good deal. 

Eversource is legally obligated to buy renewable energy, and the solar power you can make on your roof is probably enough to power your home and save you a ton of money in the process. Also, because electric rates from Eversource are high, the financial rewards of going solar are very good in New Hampshire compared to other places.

The only way to find out what financial returns you can expect for your specific home and situation is to find solar providers near you who will scan your roof and use that information to estimate how much solar you can fit, and how much it could save you. You can then compare the cost and savings estimates of various providers to find the one that’s right for you.

Calculate your annual savings by installing rooftop solar panels
 - Author of Solar Reviews

Ben Zientara

Solar Policy Analyst and Researcher

Ben is a writer, researcher, and data analysis expert who has worked for clients in the sustainability, public administration, and clean energy sectors.

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