The IRS and Home Batteries

If you've read the earlier posts you know that basically the conclusion I've come to is that installing a Home Battery is really only necessary in two states at the current time -- California and Hawaii. This obviously begs the question -- why did I purchase one here in Ohio? Strangely enough, the reason has a lot to do with the IRS.

As of 2017 there is a 30% Federal Tax Incentive on any household Solar Panel installation, meaning that if you paid $10,000 for your system, you'll get $3000 back when you pay your Federal Taxes (doesn't matter whether you're paying or getting a refund). Great. Obviously as homeowners started to install Home Batteries in conjunction with their Solar Panels, they argued that they should get the 30% on the cost of the batteries too. The IRS agreed, but with some caveats.  You can read the actual decision here:

Basically what the ruling says is that you can take the 30% on the whole thing (Solar + Battery) as long as you don't charge your battery from the grid for 5 years. There's some more detail in there, but that's the gist of it. You might wonder -- why can't I charge my battery from the grid? After all every Home Battery manufacturer touts the ability to charge your battery during low demand / cheap times and discharge your battery during high demand / expensive times as one of its main advantages! From the IRS's perspective however, the purpose of the Federal Tax Incentive on Solar Panels is to incentivize the making and using of electricity from the sun. If you charge your battery from the grid, that electricity is not coming from the sun. Therefore they will not incentivize charging the battery from the grid. If you look at it that way it makes some since. Unfortunately if you look at it from the perspective of helping our grid, then it doesn't. And helping the grid (and thereby lowering the carbon footprint of electricity production) is one of the main things I hope to do with my home battery.

So in order to take the full incentive I have to wait 5 years before charging the battery from the grid (I can only charge it with the Solar Panels). The other thing is that the 30% Federal Tax Incentive starts phasing out after 2019 (it drops to 26% in 2020, then to 22% in 2021, then drops to 10% for commercial and 0% for residential thereafter). Combining these two facts -- I need to buy the battery by 2019 and I have the 5 year wait -- are what lead me to purchase the a Home Battery in 2016.  FYI I took the incentive using my online tax program and it worked no problem.

In the meantime I dearly hope that here in Ohio we do continue to add more and more Solar, and maybe in several years Ohio will be where California is now -- in need of Home Batteries!