Montana Solar Incentives: Rebates, Energy Tax Credits for Solar Panels (MT)

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

Solar Panels | March 18, 2024

Man looking at the state of Montana flag with solar panels wonders how to use Montana solar incentives to reduce cost of solar panels in Montana with state rebates, net metering, solar panels for home, and energy tax credits.

As the fourth largest state in the country, Montana has a lot of large spaces for sunshine,1 and the Montana solar incentives that are established are designed to reduce the cost of solar panels in Montana.

Both state and federal governments around the world are offering discounts and rebates in order to reduce home installation of solar panels as renewable energy efforts increase.

The initial costs of installing solar panel systems can be pricey, but Montana offers different types of solar incentives including grants and tax credits to encourage people to go solar, in order to be electricity independent.

There are different states that offer different types of solar incentives but this guide explores the ones available for residents in Montana, including federal tax credits and other Montana solar incentive opportunities.

Solar Panels Montana

Solar panels are a long-term investment in Montana.

Although the initial cost is high, you will be able to save a lot of money on your electricity bills by installing solar panels on your home, since the state receives plenty of sunlight hours per day.

The state of Montana has invested over $185 million in the solar industry and has created over 300 job opportunities for its people.

Map of the state of Montana with each county colored to show the daily peak sun hours in each Texas county ranging from 3.56 to 4.29 daily hours of sunlight.

Although the state only has 0.5% of people who have installed solar panels in their homes, it has been ranked 44th for solar installation in the Western United States due to Montana solar incentives,2 thus a reduction in the cost of solar panels in Montana.

Because there are 130 Megawatts of solar panels produced in the state, currently that is enough to cover more than 17,500 homes. Due to their progress in this, they are now expected to move to the 40th position with 780 megawatts in five years to come.

If you want to invest in solar panels Montana, now is the right time, you will shield yourself from price changes in the electricity market.

Solar Panel Cost: Cost of Solar Panels in Montana

Although the cost of solar panels is quoted differently in different countries, Montana is considered one of the cheapest states when it comes to solar panel installation. The average cost of a solar system is about $14,520.

When measured in Kilowatts, it will be around $2.24 on average for a 6 kilowatts system, whereby this is achieved by the low cost of solar panels in Montana.

However, if you qualify for Montana solar incentives, then you will be given 30% of your gross solar panel system cost in the form of your income tax credit, and this will be a little cheaper.

There are additional factors to consider as well.

There are so many factors like your roof space, the size of solar panel that you would like to be installed, the amount of electricity that you are going to use, inspections and labor.

If you have decided to go shopping and install solar in your home, it is very much advisable to look at different quotes from different solar installers and settle with the one you are comfortable with.

Solar Panel Installation Montana: How To Install Solar

A solar panel system is a little complicated and this is one of the reasons why many companies across the U.S are providing professional solar panel installation personnel to handle the work.

However, you can decide to do it yourself and save some cost of solar panels in Montana, if you cut out contractors who would have helped you to install the solar panel.

Top shot of a ground mount solar panel on a clear sky with four men on ladder working on it.

(Image: Monroe County BOCC18)

However, it is NOT recommended that you install solar panels yourself.

In fact, many cities and municipalities forbid non-certified individuals from hooking up electrical systems.

It’s much better to hire a qualified electrician to perform the hook up, and qualified contractors to do the work.

They will follow steps similar to the ones outlined below.

  1. You first need to decide the system design option that is best for you. It can be hybrid on-grid systems,7 off-grid systems and grid-tied systems.9,10
    It is important to note that you can install your solar panel yourself if you want to power small devices and not your entire house
  2. Organize and buy any material that was not included in the shipment for example tools and wiring just to make sure that your operation goes smoothly
  3. It is important to prioritize safety at all times because installing solar panels involves climbing your rooftop, heavy lifting and even doing electrical work. So you need to have eyewear, safety boots and also gloves.
    Remember to switch off the electricity in your house before you start working.
  4. According to the requirements of your solar panel design, you need to fix the mounts that will help support the solar panel. Solar panels should always face the direction where there is a maximum amount of sunlight to help make sure a large amount of energy is produced
  5. Tighten the bolts and nuts of the solar system with the mounting structure
  6. Do electrical wiring. Your batteries can either be connected in series connection or in parallel connections or both
  7. The next step is to connect your inverter to the system and this is done by connecting the positive terminal of your inverter to the positive wire, and the negative wire to the positive terminal of your inverter
  8. Now the solar inverter should be connected to the grid input and the solar battery. Now that you are done with all the connections and the wiring, it is time to switch on the electricity from the house and start using solar energy

Solar Panel Installation Cost: Factors Influencing Solar Panel Cost

Here are some of the factors influencing solar panel cost that you need to consider.

Structural Issues

Structural issues are the most essential things to consider before installing a solar panel. These issues are closely related to the age of your roof.

You may end up damaging the wiring or your solar panel, if you do not take this into consideration. Solar panel may be re-installed and an additional amount of money is going to be paid for this.

Type of Installation

Although there are different types of solar installation, roof mounts are the most common. Other types of installation like ground mounts may require additional posts which means more labor and high cost.

Tracking Systems

Tracking systems can be installed on solar panels to follow the path of the sun in the sky overhead. This can make the panels more efficient.

This will therefore increase the total amount of energy installation in your home.

The Roof Type and Angle

There are different types of roofs including shingles, metals, and flat roof. All these different types of roofs require different labor to install a solar panel.

Let us take an example of a flat roof. Solar system is supposed to face the direction where there is the maximum amount of sunlight in order to get enough energy in the house.

Having a flat roof will have to force the contractor to build the scaffolding in order to angle the panels. As a result, the installation cost of solar panels in Montana will rise.

Tax Incentives

The state of Montana has one of the lowest prices of solar panels and on top of that the authorities and government help reduce the cost even further.

This is made possible by the government giving people grants, and Montana solar incentives (from the federal government) are worth 30% of the gross cost of solar system installation for those who have decided to go solar.

Free Solar Panels Montana: Montana Solar Incentives

There are no programs in Montana where you are not supposed to pay anything for the installation of your solar.

As mentioned earlier Montana is among the states that offer the cheapest solar panel in the U.S, and the authorities are contributing to this by giving an ITC (investment tax credit) of 30% of the amount that you are going to install your solar panel.

The state itself has a number of solar power plants (farms) that help provide greener energy to residents.

Map showing locations of solar plants in Montana using yellow markers and Montana solar panels with a US cut out showing the location of the state of Montana.

Also, there are low-interest loan programs funds that are available for up to 3.25% interest rate, and a maximum rate of $40,000 for a 10-year term.

Residents in Montana should take advantage of such opportunities to curb the environmental issues that we may be facing as the Montana Department of Environmental Quality has a right to fine anyone that has violated the air that we breathe.11

How To Get Solar Panels for Free in Montana

As we said earlier, there is no such thing as getting a totally free solar panel in Montana without you paying any amount of money. But, there are so many financing options and Montana solar incentives options that can make it possible for you to acquire your solar panel.

Graphic representation of the potential methods for acquiring solar panels in Montana such as financing options, power purchase agreements, community solar programs, and solar incentives.

Let us now look at some of the ways how to get solar panels for free in Montana.

#1 Financing Options

Going solar is a very effective way for so many homeowners and businesses. For those who are not able to afford solar, then there is good news for you.

Two financing options are waiting for you to grab the opportunity.

  • Solar loans in Montana: This is where you borrow a certain amount of money and buy the solar system. But you agree on the period of time that you are supposed to take to repay the loan.
    When you take a loan; you own the solar system, and can also increase the value of your property thus benefiting from various Montana solar incentives, for example, the federal incentive tax credit
  • Solar leases in Montana: Unlike in solar loans, you will not be able to own the system but only use it, and pay some monthly amount of money that is of course cheaper than the electricity bill that you pay every month. There will be no upfront cost if you end up choosing this financing option

#2 Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs)

This is the agreement between you and the solar company you have chosen to install and maintain your solar panel for free. Power purchase agreements work in a way that the company installs solar panels for you at no charge, but you will have to pay for the electricity that you have used monthly.

Both you and the company will benefit since you will be able to reduce the cost of your electricity bills and carbon footprint. Additionally, you will not be required to pay the initial cost.

Whereas the company will benefit from you when you purchase electricity from them hence reducing the cost of solar panels in Montana.

#3 Community Solar Programs in Montana

There are non-profit initiatives and programs that make it possible for the residents in Montana to afford solar systems, and also to join in the renewable energy generations even when they cannot install solar in their properties.

Solar panel installed on the roof of a house directly harnessing sunlight and convert it to renewable energy, with a plants in the front and hills on the background.

(Image: Dennis Sylvester Hurd19)

Non–profit initiatives and solar programs like the Montana renewable energy association (MREA), and the Missoula electric energy cooperative’s community solar programs try to make an effort to bring change in Montana.

#4 Solar Incentives in Montana

  • Solar tax credit: The state of Montana provides a tax credit for the residents who have decided to go solar, therefore reducing the initial cost thus making the installation of solar attract many people that live in this state by a maximum of $500
  • Federal investment tax credit: This incentive allows you to deduct 30% of all the amount of money that you were going to use to install the solar panel. This makes it more affordable and you will be able to save a significant amount of money in the process of installing your solar panel
  • Net metering: Montana has a net metering policy where you are allowed to sell the excess energy to the grid especially when solar panels are not producing a lot of power, mostly during the night, thus allowing you to offset the cost of your electricity usage

Solar Panels for Home in Montana: Cost of Solar Panels in Montana

By investing in solar panels in Montana, you’ll have off-grid power whenever you need it.

The renewable portfolio standard (a tool that is there to encourage solar power companies to supply renewable power other than fossil fuel) deadline is coming very soon. There are so many opportunities that the residents can use to get this solar panel installed in their homes for a very cheaper price.

You can not only save a significant amount of money but also save the environment from carbon footprint. There are so many ways that you can buy your solar panel for home in Montana for example, you can decide to buy using your own cash money and apply for ITC and get a 30% deduction of the amount you are going to use for installing your solar system.

Or you can purchase it with credit or just get a loan from somewhere and buy your solar system.

Does Solar Increase Home Value? Montana Energy Consumption

At every thought of a home, you should add value to it and not expenses. These tracking systems that most Montanans use to monitor their energy usage or add extensive landscape, will only increase the cost of your solar panels.

Thus, at the end of the day, you will only have low investments. But how does solar increase home value?

Many people argue that yes, it does.

Currently, Montana gets most of its renewable energy from hydroelectric power. But, the solar power is very minor.

Pie chart showing Montana renewable energy consumption including Montana wind energy, biomass energy, geothermal energy, hydroelectric energy and solar energy in the state of Montana for 2022.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) found that through solar panels,12 home value is increased by $20 for every dollar saved.3

How to increase the value of properties through the installation of solar panels.

  1. Choose the right warranty to back up your home value investment. The first type of warranty is the assurance that the solar system is going to work in a certain amount of years without fail.
    There are solar companies that provide solar panels that can last up to 25 years or sometimes 40 years without fail.
    The second type of warranty is the guarantee that the solar panel will produce 90% of energy for those 25 or 40 years without fail. Warranties are important for one reason, future issues that may occur to the solar panels are covered by the solar company and this is why homes with solar are bought at a higher price
  2. If you are the owner of the house and want to sell your property, try as much as possible to educate the buyers on leased or owned solar systems
  3. Choose the right professional installer to install your solar system. For this reason, buyers will feel protected and will make it easy for them to invest in solar solutions that meet the highest standards of the industry

Montana Solar Panel Rebates

The state of Montana has already made the price of solar panels cheaper, compared to other states in the U.S. This state has made renewable energy something that Montanans can choose from other options of power available in the state.

Montana solar panels can be in the form of cash, rebates from installers, solar equipment manufacturers, and even the government.

Solar rebates are usually available in a very short period of time. This comes in the form of promotions, especially from the manufacturers or installers.

You do not actually need to fill out a separate rebate form from anywhere, all you need to do is to register on the website of the companies that offer rebates in that short period of time.

They will automatically sort you out, although Montana also offers cash rebates, and they pay up-front rebates for installing your solar panel.13

Solar Rebates from the Government and the Utility Companies

We all know that anything that comes from the government or certain companies mostly comes with strict rules and regulations that are a must to be followed.

For example, the kind of equipment that you are going to use, the requirements that an installer must have for them to install your solar system, or the maximum or minimum size of your solar panels.

Graphic representation of the Montana solar rebates qualifications such as residency in Montana, no dependent, rebated files before due date, and must be a Montana tax liability.

Especially when you want to obtain a rebate from Montana State, but this should not make you lose hope because all these efforts are worth it.

When you apply for a solar rebate from the government, make sure that you submit detailed information on everything about your solar panels including how it will perform, the size of your system, and the overall cost of your solar installation.

Wide view of a solar panel installed on the roof of a staff house in a park, harnessing sunlight for renewable energy with tall trees on the background.

(Image: NPS Climate Change Response20)

Your installer is in the best position to do the process of applying for the rebate, or he can as well help with the process. The installation company is the one given the cash and will subtract the 30% incentive tax credit from the total cost and the remaining liability is going to be rolled in the upcoming tax year.

Rebate qualifications

  • You must be a resident of Montana
  • If you were not claimed as a dependent by any person living in Montana
  • You filed the rebate before the due date
  • Your Montana tax liability should be greater than $0.00 after any non-refundable credits

Montana Tax Incentives for Solar: Montana Solar Incentives

Recently, the solar tax credit which is now known as the Residential Clean Energy Credit was extended.14 You will be able to get this 30% ITC of your gross cost of solar installation as long as you have been a resident of Montana for the longest period.

This tax incentive will remain to be 30% till 2032 and will eventually drop to 22% in 2034 until the congress renews it. Here are a few options for Montana tax incentives for solar.

Incentive Description
Residential clean energy credit This is when you claim a tax credit of 30% of the total cost of solar panel installation. The tax credit will expire in the year 2032, and will further decrease to 26% in 2033, and 22% in 2034 as it will expire in 2035 until it is renewed by the Congress
Residential alternative energy system tax credit An individual is given $500 and married couples are given $1000 when they want to install solar panels in their homes
Net metering The Montana residents are allowed to sell the excess energy that their solar systems produce back to their utility company. Depending on the agreement that the customer and the company have, the amount of money for the energy they sell can be accumulated and paid yearly
Renewable energy systems exemptions Qualifying solar panel systems in Montana are offered a property tax exemption of $20,000 for a period of ten years
Alternative energy revolving loan program This particular program offers loans to individuals who have decided to install any alternative energy system including solar water heating and solar panels

Montana Energy Tax Credit

Former President George Bush started these tax incentives for solar as part of the Energy Policy Act.4 He started by giving a 30% tax credit for the total amount you will use in the solar installation, later in the year 2020 the tax credit was dropped to 26%, and in August 2022 it was raised again to 30%.

This tax incentive will drop to 26% again in the year 2033, and 22% in 2034, this will happen because it will expire in 2035 until Congress renews it again.

If you want to claim your Montana energy tax credit, you have to fill in the 5696 form and return it to IRS which provides you with a printable worksheet.15

Ground mount solar panel installed on a gravelly land, on a clear sky with plants in the background.

(Image: U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)21)

This information assists you to know your limitations and also helps you on how you are going to calculate your solar installation expenses.

Montana solar incentives and energy tax credit have not only made it possible to lower the cost of solar panels in Montana but has helped Montanans save when they install solar system.

Federal Energy Credits: How It Works (Montana Solar Incentives)

Federal energy credits is the 30% worth tax credit that you are given by the state or federal for the total amount of money that you are going to use to install your solar panel.

Let us assume that the total amount of money that you are going to use to install your solar panel in Montana is $40,000.

The government deducts 30% from your total cost, and it becomes $40,000 x 30/100 = $12,000. Therefore, the cost of solar panels in Montana will be $28000 ($40000-$12000=$28000)

But sorry for those who think that this money is going to be directly given to them. Of course not, this particular money is going to be used to reduce the amount of money that you owe the federal income tax, and the remaining amount of credit is going to be rolled in the coming tax year.

It is important to note that the federal energy tax credit does not cover roofing expenses unless it is under solar panel equipment. However, there are separate Montana solar incentives that are used to cater to such upgrades.16

Solar Panel Grants for Homeowners: Cost of Solar Panels in Montana

The price of installing solar panels is very high and the government has noticed this, thus it has offered people some grants that have made it possible for so many homeowners to purchase solar panels.

Solar panels are one of the best ways to use renewable energy, and save a good amount of money, hence also contributing to the well-being of the environment.

Wide shot of a white residential house with solar panel installed on its roof, with a view of street on its front and trees on the right.

(Image: Mairead Whitford Jones22)

With the solar panel grants, you will be able to upgrade your solar panel or just build a new solar panel. Let us now look at the solar panel grants and how you may qualify to have one.

  • Renewable Energy Grants: This grant is offered by the U.S. Department Treasury. All you have to do is to apply for the grant and once you are qualified and your solar panel system is fully installed and in service, you now have to start paying back the grant until you don’t owe them
  • Rural Energy For America (REAP) Grant: This program is under the U.S. Department of Agriculture where farmers are being supported to install solar panels in their greenhouses, and can be given up to $20,000 for those that will qualify.
    But the condition is that you should prove that 50% of your income is coming from farming business and that you are certain that you can afford the 75% of the project on your own
  • Green Retrofit Grants: Homeowners from the low income areas have not been left behind when it comes to going solar. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is the one that provides this grant, the money that is used in this grant comes from the $250 million budget.
    After you have applied and you are qualified too, then you are supposed to use the receipt that you are given within two years from the time that you have received it

Montana Solar Tax Credit

Montana solar tax credits are there to reduce the amount of money that Montanans pay when they decide to go solar. For example, you are exempted from property tax for the first five years if your renewable energy facility is under one megawatt.

When you want to install any alternative energy systems like solar, wind, or geothermal then your solar tax credit cannot go beyond $500 per person, but if you are married then your solar tax credit will be $1000.

You can also claim a $1,500 tax credit based on your installation cost if you want to install a residential geothermal system.

Do you know that as a resident of Montana, you can claim an energy conservation investment to your building or your home of up to 30%?

How Does the Solar Tax Credit Work if I Don’t Owe Taxes?

Before this question is answered, you first need to know how solar tax credit works.

Commercial and residential property owners are allowed by the federal solar tax credit to lower their tax on a certain amount of credit, but this will only happen if they follow the specified terms and conditions when installing their solar panels.

The amount of money that is reduced is equal to the gross cost of your solar installation system. Now that you know how solar tax credit works it is time to answer the question, “How does the solar tax credit work if I don’t owe taxes?”.

Three sets of pole mounted monocrystalline solar panel in Glacier National Park in Montana that helps provide power at the park.

(Image: Christine Bennett, U.S. Department of Energy23)

You may fall under the category of people who do not owe tax credits if you are a low income individual or just that you do not have any form of income.

Therefore, solar tax credit will not be of benefit to you because you will not have any tax liability.

How Much Are Solar Panels in Montana?

Every home is different in Montana. This is why the exact cost of solar panels in Montana cannot be mentioned.

The size of the solar system that you need differs to the one that the other has, and the roof type that you may have might be different from what the other may have and this makes the difference in prices.

With that said, the average cost of solar panels in Montana is $14,520. Let us now look at some of the factors that may increase the cost of solar panels in Montana.

  • Direction and roof type: Different types of roofs that one may have requires different levels of labor. For example, if you have a shingle roof then there is going to be a specific piece of flashing that is going to be attached to the mount of the solar panel and later to the roof
    The direction of the solar panel should face where there is a maximum amount of sunlight for efficient energy production.
  • Type of solar installation: This factor may increase the cost of your solar panel depending on the different types of solar installation that you have chosen.17 There are some installations that may require more labor, therefore, you may need to add some amount of money for the installation of solar panels
  • The amount of electricity that you are going to use: You may end up paying a good amount of money for your electricity depending on the number of solar panels and energy usage. Hence, this will increase the cost of your solar panel installation

Solar Panel Cost Calculator Montana: Cost of Solar Panels in Montana

Knowing how to calculate the cost of solar panels in Montana is an important aspect, because you will be certain about whether the decision you are making is worth the effort or not. You need to know how many solar panels you require for your home, and it will depend on how big your house is and the number of hours electricity will be used in the house.

Whether you are going to partially or fully use the solar panel, and what you will use the electricity for are important factors to keep in mind. Assume the amount of money you have used to install the solar system is about $15000 excluding any Montana solar incentives.

But if you deduct the 30% ITC, then it will be 30% of $15000=$4500. This is the amount that will be reduced from the tax that you owe the federal incentive tax credit, whereby any liable balance will be rolled to the preceding tax years.

Meaning that you will install your solar system at a cheaper price, and at the same time the liability tax that you owe the government will be reduced every year.

Why Should You Consider Getting Quotes for Solar Panels Sooner?

Do you know that people who dedicate themselves just to research the quotes of solar panel costs tend to save at least 10% of the amount of money that they were going to use to install solar panels in their homes?5

And depending on the size of the solar panels, the save can go from hundreds of dollars to thousands of dollars.

Carbon Footprint Solar Panels

Carbon footprint solar panels is the amount of carbon that is released into the atmosphere during the production or manufacturing of solar panels. Both polycrystalline and monocrystalline solar panels also have a carbon footprint due to their mining, manufacturing and disposal processes.

Studies show 50g of carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour is being produced in the process of production.6

Two solar installers on a roof of a house installing a monocrystalline solar panel on a rack

(Image: Deidra Hodges, U.S. Department of Energy24)

The time frame for the solar panels to become carbon neutral is debated.

Although they generate no emissions during their use, the batteries are a huge carbon emissions producer. Mining the materials to create the batteries, producing them and correctly disposing them causes significant emissions.

Are Solar Panels Worth It in Montana?

Montana offers very low electricity costs; this can be because most Montanans do not use a lot of power. Montana is an open area that is blessed with a lot of sunlight.

This makes it a perfect place for one to install solar panels in order to save money on their electricity bills.

Furthermore, there is the creation of occupations for those installing the solar systems, and also reducing the carbon emission that is in the atmosphere.

To answer the question, “Are solar panels worth it in Montana?” Yes, solar panels are worth it in Montana.

However, it is important to keep in mind that these solar incentives can expire any time soon and are not in every state.

Therefore, you should take advantage of Montana solar incentives that are available and join thousands of people who have disconnected from the grid and lowered the cost of solar panels in Montana using these rebates and credits.

Frequently Asked Questions About Montana Solar Incentives

How Many Times Can You Claim Solar Tax Credit?

You can claim solar tax credit only once but if you have many solar panels, then you are allowed to claim it many times.

Can I Claim It if I Am Not a Homeowner?

Yes you can, but on condition that you are a member of the tenant stakeholder of a cooperative housing corporation.

Read More About Montana Solar Incentives


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