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Solar program offers tax incentives, for homes and businesses

Todd Paris
Installers build an array on a Solarize Fairbanks house in 2020.

The community group, Solarize Fairbanks, is trying to get home and business owners to take advantage of discounts and a 30 percent tax break. For the first time, the program is open to anyone in the Fairbanks North Star Borough, and there are some services for the rest of the Interior.

Solarize Fairbanks is a consortium of energy and research groups that help homeowners and businesses work around the high costs of installing electrical-generation panels on their buildings. One of those partners is Information Insights. CEO Jamie Hansen, says this is the fourth year Solarize Fairbanks has run campaigns providing technical expertise and vetting solar installers.

 ”And ensure that they are businesses in good standing that provide stellar customer service and are offering equipment for the interior that is appropriate for our, our climate and the angle of our sun,” Hansen said.

Those installers are Fairbanks-based Renewable Energy Systems, which has worked with the Solarize Fairbanks campaign for the past four years and Anchorage-based Arctic Solar Ventures, which is trying to grow their solar installer business in the Interior.

Hansen says the biggest carrot for homes and businesses is a 30% federal tax credit for installing solar.

“That means that whatever your tax liability is, you will get 30% of your investment back. Um, say you decide to install in 2023 in when you're doing your taxes in 2024, you will get 30% of that back if you have that amount put in taxes. If you don't have it in a given year, then it can be separated over a couple years,” Hansen said.

Tax exempt entities - such as nonprofits, tribal organizations, municipalities, and school districts – can now access the 30% federal tax credit as a direct payment.

“ So that's tax exempt organizations. We're talking nonprofits, charities, universities. That's government entities, tribal state, local, and public schools, and that's also our electric cooperative. All of these entities are now able to access that 30% tax credit via direct pay,” Hansen said.

AND, small businesses in the Interior and other areas of rural Alaska may apply for a Rural Energy for America grant. That covers 50% of the solar Photovoltaic system parts and installation.

“This is particular for small businesses, for any small business in Alaska, except for those that are in the municipality of Anchorage. You have to be in a rural area, a grant that would cover 50% of the solar PV system and install, and that is brand new as of March 31. That's enormous,” Hansen said.

This year the agency has changed its business model a bit. Formerly, several homeowners had to get together to order installations in order to take advantage of bulk parts buys or installation discounts. But this year the program is open across the Fairbanks North Star Borough.

“ A change that we made because we were seeing year after year certain areas and certain individuals or households that were simply not able to participate because there wasn't someone in their area organizing their entire neighborhood,” Hansen said.

Solarize Fairbanks would like to give away a free solar installation sometime before winter, and they plan to do it with the profit made by the installation companies.

“ Each installer to both Arctic Solar Ventures and renewable energy systems have pledged to donate 5% back of that total kilowatts installed through the campaign as a free or low cost solar PV install. And that would be on household or organizations that is in our community and also selected by our community.

The Solarize Fairbanks campaign runs through the end of May. More information is available at Questions may be sent to The Solarize Fairbanks website is

Robyne began her career in public media news at KUAC, coiling cables in the TV studio and loading reel-to-reel tape machines for the radio station.