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Florida Solar Licensing | Contractor Requirements | Solar Policies

 

When it comes to solar energy, Florida is one of the most attractive states in the United States. The state’s combination of high electricity rates, sunny weather, and strong incentives make it an ideal market for solar development.

 

If you’re thinking about starting a solar business in Florida, the first step is to get licensed as a contractor. The process can be a bit daunting, but we’ve put together this guide to help make things go as smoothly as possible.

How to Obtain a Contractor's License in Florida

In order to obtain a contractor’s license in Florida, you must:


  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Complete a four-hour business practices course
  • Pass a written exam administered by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation
  • Submit proof of workers’ compensation insurance (if applicable)


If you’re already licensed as a contractor in another state, you may be able to waive the business practices course and exam requirements. However, you will still need to submit proof of workers’ compensation insurance.

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Florida Solar Contractor Exams

When you want to get your Florida contractor license, you must pass an examination administered by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. The examination covers general knowledge, as well as specific information related to solar energy systems.

 

You can prepare for the exam by taking a prep course offered by the Florida Solar Energy Center. The course is offered both online and in person, and it covers topics such as site assessment, system design, installation, and safety.

Benefits of Apprenticeship Programs for Apprentices

If you’re already an electrician, you may be able to get your solar contractor license by completing an apprenticeship program. These programs are offered by the Florida Solar Energy Center and they allow electricians to get on-the-job training while also earning college credit.

 

Apprenticeship programs have a number of benefits, both for the apprentices and for the journeyman electricians who mentor them. Apprentices gain real-world experience and earn a steady income while they complete their training. Journeyman electricians, on the other hand, can take on additional responsibility within their company and receive a pay increase.

Solar Policies in Florida

Florida has a number of policies in place that support the development of solar panels and usage. Such policies are:

 

The Renewable Portfolio Standard

This solar policy is only in place for utilities, but it’s still an important one to be aware of. The Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) is a mandate that requires utilities to source a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable sources by a certain date. In Florida, the RPS goal is 20 percent by 2025.

 

Solar Rebates and Incentives

Florida offers both state and local rebates and incentives for solar energy systems. These incentives can significantly reduce the cost of going solar, making it more affordable for homeowners and businesses alike.

 

The Property Assessed Clean Energy Program

The Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program is a financing mechanism that allows property owners to finance the installation of solar panels through their property taxes. PACE financing is available in a number of Florida counties, and it can be used to finance both residential and commercial solar projects.

 

Net Metering

Net metering is a policy that requires utilities to credit solar panel owners for the excess electricity that their system produces. This credits offset the cost of the electricity that the homeowner or business owner uses from the grid. In Florida, net metering is currently available to customers of Duke Energy, Tampa Electric Company, and Florida Power & Light Company.

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Florida Solar Incentives

In addition to being a great market for solar development, Florida also offers a number of incentives for solar installations. The most significant incentive is the state’s solar rebate program, which offers up to $20 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of installed capacity. This rebate is available for both residential and commercial installations, and it can significantly reduce the cost of going solar.

 

In addition to the state rebate, many utilities in Florida offer their own solar rebates. These programs vary from utility to utility, but they can provide an additional discount on the cost of a solar installation.

 

Florida also offers a number of tax incentives for solar energy systems. Homeowners and businesses that install solar panels may be eligible for a property tax exemption, as well as a sales tax exemption. These exemptions can save thousands of dollars on the cost of a solar installation.

Solar Leases in Florida

A solar lease is similar to a PPA, but instead of purchasing the electricity generated by the system, the customer pays a monthly lease payment. Solar leases are often offered by third-party solar developers, and they can be a great option for customers who want to go solar with little or no upfront cost.

Solar Rights in Florida

Florida law protects the rights of homeowners and businesses to install solar panels on their property. These laws, known as “solar easements,” allow solar panel owners to prevent shading from trees or buildings and ensure that their panels will have access to sunlight. Solar easements are typically created by a contract between the solar panel owner and the property owner.

Solar Financing in Florida

There are a number of financing options available for customers who want to go solar in Florida. These options include loans, leases, PPAs, and other financing arrangements. Solar loans are a great option for customers who want to own their system outright and enjoy the benefits of owning solar panels, such as the federal solar tax credit. Solar leases and PPAs are a great option for customers who want to go solar with little or no upfront cost.

Solarize Programs in Florida

Solarize programs are community-based initiatives that make going solar more affordable by bulk-purchasing solar panels and negotiating group discounts. Solarize programs have been successful in a number of states, and they are beginning to pop up in Florida. These programs can save customers hundreds or even thousands of dollars on the cost of going solar.

Community Solar Gardens in Florida

A community solar garden is a large solar photovoltaic (PV) system that is owned by a group of people, typically through a utility or third-party solar developer. Customers who subscribe to a community solar garden receive credits on their electricity bill for the electricity generated by the system.

 

Community solar gardens are a great option for customers who want to go solar but don’t have the roof space or finances to install their own system. They also offer the benefits of solar energy without the hassle of maintenance or repair.

 

Net Metering in Florida

Net metering is a billing arrangement that allows customers with solar PV systems to sell excess electricity back to the utility at the full retail price. This excess electricity is typically used to offset the customer’s electric usage during periods when their PV system is not generating enough power, such as at night or on cloudy days.

 

Florida law requires utilities to offer net metering to their customers, and a number of utilities have voluntarily expanded their net metering programs beyond the state requirements. Net metering is a great way for solar PV system owners to save money on their electric bills and make money from their excess electricity.

Conclusion

Florida is a great state for solar development, thanks to its combination of high electricity rates, sunny weather, and strong incentives. If you’re thinking about starting a solar business in Florida, the first step is to get licensed as a contractor. Once you’re licensed, you can start marketing your solar services to customers and developing new projects.

 

The solar market in Florida is growing rapidly, so now is the time to get involved. Thanks for reading!