Does Maryland Have A Free Solar Program?

Does Maryland have a free solar program?

Solar power has been growing in popularity and adoption in Maryland over the past decade. As the costs of solar panels and installation have decreased, more homeowners, businesses, and utilities in the state have invested in solar energy systems. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, Maryland currently has over 1,200 MW of installed solar capacity, enough to power over 200,000 homes. With ample sunlight, supportive policies, and financial incentives, solar power in Maryland is poised for continued growth.

With this rise of solar, many Marylanders wonder if the state offers any free solar programs to help them go solar. This article will provide an overview of the history and current landscape of solar power in Maryland, examine the costs and benefits, and look at some of the key solar incentives and policies offered in the state. The focus will be on answering the question: Does Maryland have a free solar program available to residents?

History of Solar in Maryland

Solar power first started being adopted in Maryland in the 1970s during the energy crisis. According to the Maryland Energy Administration, the solar thermal market grew rapidly from 1977 to 1985 when there were state and federal tax credits available (Solar Power in Maryland, Wikipedia). However, when these tax credits were reduced in 1986, the solar market slowed down.

In 2004, Maryland passed its first Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard which required electricity suppliers to use renewable energy sources for a percentage of their retail sales. This helped drive further solar adoption. Then in 2008, Maryland passed legislation establishing a solar renewable energy credit (SREC) market which provided additional incentives for solar (Maryland’s Solar Industry, University of Maryland).

More recently, in 2015, community solar legislation was passed allowing multiple homeowners to share the costs and benefits of a solar array. And in 2019, the Clean Energy Jobs Act increased Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio Standard solar carve-out to 14.5% by 2028 further driving solar adoption (SEIA).

Current State of Solar

Maryland has seen tremendous growth in solar power in recent years. According to SEIA, over 150,000 Maryland homes are now powered by solar panels (Source). The total installed solar capacity in Maryland has quadrupled from 258 megawatts in 2015 to over 1,000 megawatts by 2022 (Source). This is enough to power over 150,000 homes with clean, renewable solar energy. Maryland now ranks 16th nationally for total installed solar capacity.

Costs and Benefits

The average cost to install solar panels in Maryland ranges from $12,835 to $17,365 according to Energysage. On a cost per watt basis, the average cost is around $2.74 to $2.95 per watt according to Energysage and For a typical 5 kW system, this equates to $13,700 to $14,750 total installation cost before incentives.

Over the lifetime of a solar system, owners can expect significant energy savings. According to Energysage, a 5 kW solar system can save around $24,000 over 20 years. With solar panel warranties typically lasting 25 years, savings could be even higher over the full lifetime. Payback periods in Maryland are estimated at around 6-7 years.

In addition to upfront installation costs savings from federal and state incentives, Maryland homeowners with solar can benefit from net metering and Solar Renewable Energy Credits which help offset ongoing electricity costs. Overall, solar power in Maryland provides an attractive return on investment given the state’s good solar resource and strong incentives.

MD Net Metering Program

Maryland has a strong net metering program that encourages residential solar adoption. Net metering allows solar system owners to earn bill credits for excess electricity fed back into the grid. Maryland’s net metering rules apply to all utilities – investor-owned utilities, electric cooperatives and municipal utilities (1).

Under net metering, a bi-directional meter tracks both electricity drawn from the grid and excess electricity fed back into the grid. Solar customers are billed net of these amounts. If they produce more than they consume, they earn credits at the full retail electricity rate. Credits roll over month-to-month indefinitely and are applied to future bills (2). At the end of each year, the utility pays solar customers for any excess credits at the avoided-cost rate. This ensures solar customers are fairly compensated for their excess generation.

Net metering in Maryland currently has no aggregate capacity limit, allowing for continued solar growth. The program provides significant savings and payback for MD residents looking to go solar.


(1) Maryland’s net metering

(2) Residential Solar – Maryland Office of People’s Counsel

MD Solar Renewable Energy Credits

Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs) are tradable credits that represent the clean energy attributes of solar power generation. For each 1,000 kWh of electricity produced by a solar energy system, an SREC is issued which can then be sold on the open market in states like Maryland that have Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) with solar carve-outs (Maryland News).

The SREC market provides an additional source of revenue for solar panel owners by allowing them to monetize the clean energy they produce. Maryland has one of the most robust SREC markets in the country. The current SREC requirement for Maryland utilities is to acquire SRECs equal to 2.5% of their total retail electricity sales. This creates significant demand and helps set Maryland SREC prices among the highest in the nation, averaging around $225/SREC (SRECtrade).

MD Community Solar

Community solar allows Maryland residents to participate in solar generation even if they do not have solar panels on their own property. The Maryland Public Service Commission approved a pilot program for community solar projects in 2015.

The community solar model allows multiple subscribers to share the output of a solar array located within their utility service area. The energy produced by the community solar project is fed into the local grid, and subscribers receive credits that reduce their electricity bills based on their portion of the output.

As of March 2021, Maryland had 107 community solar projects in operation, totaling over 300MW of capacity. Major developers with available projects for new subscribers include Neighborhood Sun, Clearway Community Solar, and Community Solar Inc.

Community solar provides a more accessible way for Maryland residents to support renewable energy, even if they rent, have shaded roofs, or simply cannot afford private solar. Subscribers save 5-10% on their electricity bills while also reducing carbon emissions.

MD Solar Tax Credits

There are several solar tax credit programs available in Maryland to help make solar more affordable. At the state level, there is a Residential Clean Energy Grant Program, which provides grants to homeowners who install solar panels or other renewable energy systems on their property ( This grant covers 20% of the costs of installation, up to $3,000 for systems under 10 kW and $5,000 for larger systems.

On the federal level, there is the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) which provides a 26% tax credit for residential solar systems installed in 2024. This credit will step down to 22% in 2025 and is currently set to expire in 2032. For commercial installations, the tax credit is 30% through 2032 (Forbes). Homeowners and businesses in Maryland can combine this federal credit with state incentives and progra

Free Solar Programs in MD

There are a few programs in Maryland that provide free or low-cost solar panels and installations for certain residents. The main programs are:

Solar Energy Equity Program

The Solar Energy Equity Program from the Maryland Energy Administration provides grants to nonprofit organizations to install solar panels on homes owned or rented by low-moderate income households. The program aims to make solar energy more accessible and affordable for these households.

To qualify, households must have an annual income at or below 80% of the State median income or area median income. The solar systems must be designed to produce an amount of electricity equal to or less than 110% of the household’s previous year’s electric use. There is no cost to the homeowner for participating.

Other Local Programs

Some counties and municipalities in Maryland also offer programs to support solar for low-moderate income households. These may include things like waived permitting fees, technical assistance, group purchases, and funding. Availability varies by location.

For example, Montgomery County offers a low-moderate income grant program that provides funding alongside state and federal incentives. Charles County provides 0% financing for installing solar panels to residents below certain income levels.


In summary, there are currently no free solar programs available for residential homeowners in Maryland. The state does offer several incentives like net metering, SRECs, and tax credits that can reduce the cost of going solar. However, upfront installation costs would still need to be paid by the homeowner. The MD community solar program allows residents to subscribe to a shared solar facility without installing panels on their own home, but does require a monthly subscription payment.

To definitively answer the original question posed – while Maryland has made progress in solar adoption through its various incentive programs, there is currently no option for residents to get completely free solar panels installed on their homes at this time.

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