Solar Hot Water for Commercial Properties in Philadelphia & Vicinity

SUBSIDIES for commercial solar hot water:
(Last Updated June 15, 2011)
Campaign to HELP Solar Hot Water in Pennsylvania (May 2011) :
Right now, subsidies for commercial scale Solar Hot Water are outstanding!
  • 65% combined subsidy: 35% PA (up to $50,000) plus 30% federal.
  • Currently (in spring of 2011), a $100,000 Solar Hot Water project costs the business owner only $35,000 out of pocket!
However, the future for Solar Hot Water in Pennsylvania is uncertain:
  • PA Sunshine program grant funds of 35% are slated to be all spent by this summer of 2011,
  • Natural gas fuel prices are low and going DOWN (decreasing customer’s interest),
  • The costs of panels and materials for Solar Hot Water installations are going UP,
  • PA Solar Hot Water does not currently qualify for SRECs (Solar Renewable Energy Credits), and
  • PA Photo Voltaic installers anticipate no new subsidies,
  • The future of the Solar Hot Water industry in PA and the clean energy, green jobs brought by Solar Hot Water, looks very uncertain.
  • A national effort by the Solar Hot Water industry (view letter) was made to qualify Solar Hot Water for SRECs, but it was not successful.
  • Click for more background info (PDF) on this issue in Pennsylvania
The great benefits of Solar Hot Water have been: You could HELP the Solar Hot Water industry in Pennsylvania – here’s how:
Additional Info on SUBSIDIES for commercial solar hot water:
(Last Updated May 25, 2011)
1) 30% Federal Investment Tax Credit: Businesses that are For Profit with fewer than 100 employees can qualify for a 30% Federal Solar Tax Credit from the government through the year 2016. "** Credit termination date of ... January 1, 2017, for ... solar, geothermal, microturbines, CHP and geothermal heat pumps." More information at

2) PA SUNSHINE PROGRAM: is a state program that was set up to provide $100 million in grant funding to help fund solar projects for homeowners and small businesses in Pennsylvania. On April 13, 2009, 4 representatives from Rushforth Solar joined a delegation for the Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) meeting in Harrisburg where the CFA unanimously approved bond money for the Sunshine Program. The DEP has announced that the Sunshine Program was opened for solar thermal rebate applications on May 22, 2009. The first 1,500 eligible solar thermal projects would get rebates for 25% up to $20,000. As of September 1, 2010, DEP lifted the subsidy caps for Commercial Solar Thermal to 35% and up to $50,000. DEP also raised the residential SHW subsidy from $2,000 to $5,000. This was big news for larger Solar Hot Water in Pennsylvania. Before, systems costing $80,000 reached a cap of $20,000 in subsidy and would get no additional state subsidies regardless of how much larger the systems were. Now systems up to $143,000 get a full 35% subsidy capped at the higher $50,000 amount, so the payback numbers on larger buildings (for example apartment buildings over 40 units) will tend to be much more viable. The caveat is that we don’t know for how long this funding will last. The rules were set that after the first 1,500 eligible solar thermal projects, the rebate levels would drop to 20% for the next 1,500; then 15% for the following 1,500; then 10% for the last 1,500 – all assuming the $100 million has not be used up. More information at

3) PA SOLAR ENERGY PROGRAM: In the past, this program has accepted applications for grants (up to 50%) and low interest loans for larger solar (including solar hot water) projects for businesses, non-profits, and school districts and government agencies. This program administered by Commonwealth Finance Authority is sometimes out of funds and closed. Applying for grants entails some grant-writing efforts from the customer. See PA Solar Energy Program guidelines.

4) 5 YEAR ACCELERATED DEPRECIATION: It is our understanding that in year 1, 60% of the cost of the solar system (after 30% tax credit) may be written off. In years 2 through 5, 10% of the cost (after 30% tax credit) may be written off. Check with your tax professional. More information available at:

5) PHILADELPHIA ENERGY REBATE - Green Works: $400,000 in funding available on a 1st come 1st serve basis: The City of Philadelphia is providing a 50% match, up to $10,000, for investments in energy improvements such as structural retrofits and energy efficient processes/ equipment replacement. The program is administered by the Commerce Department and is for small businesses or commercial properties. Project must result in 20% reduction in energy consumption, and project must pay for itself in 10 years before any subsidies are applied. (Most solar applications unfortunately will not meet that last requirement, but in a high water use situation, where solar hot water is packaged with a high efficiency water heater replacement, the 10 year payback may qualify.
For more info see or contact Jeremy Thomas (215) 683-2153.

6) PENNFUTURE - Funding Sources: PennFuture updated this list of funding sources for renewable energy.

Rushforth Solar LLC has compiled this information from external sources that are deemed reliable. We do our best to keep the information updated but we recommend that you use the provided link to the official website to confirm that the program is still in effect. We also recommend that you discuss any tax advantages with your accountant. Last updated May 29, 2011.

Dollars and Cents:
At right is a chart (click to enlarge it) showing a 79% drop in natural gas use after installation of our solar hot water system along with a high efficiency hot water heater on a 16 unit apartment building. This translates to natural gas expenditures dropping from approximately $4,200 per year to $1,000 per year.
Increase in Net Operating Income:
The annual gas savings and increase in NOI are approximately $3,200 per year.
Increase in Property Value:
It is estimated that the value of this building increases about $14 for every $1 increase in Net Operating Income. Using a 14 multiplier (7.14% cap rate), the $3,200 increase in NOI translates to a $44,800 increase in property value, which well exceeded the installed cost.
Decreased exposure to energy price increases.
When fossil fuel prices go up, sunlight remains free.
The letter to the right was from the pleased owners of the subject apartment building. See other positive referral comments.