Below are the tax credits and other incentives we could identify at the time of publication. Check www.dsireusa.org for an up-to-date list.

Federal tax credit: Uncle Sam will let you deduct 30 percent of what you paid for panels, equipment, installation, and permits from your tax bill. The current credit is in place through 2019; in 2020, the credit declines to 26 percent; then 22 percent in 2021; from 2022 on, it stabilizes at 10 percent. For more details on how to compute the credit, see the IRS's Q&A on Tax Credits for Sections 25C and 25D.

Net metering: When your solar energy system produces electricity you don’t use, it’s pushed onto the grid, and your utility pays you for it in the form of a credit against the electricity you’ll buy when you need more power than your panels can produce. Keep in mind, however, that few solar energy systems in this area over the course of a year produce more total electricity than needed by their houses.

Performance payments: Xcel Energy customers can enroll in the utility’s SolarRewards program and receive payments or credits of up to $.08 per kilowatt-hour of energy produced by their solar energy systems. To participate, you sign a 10-year contract and agree to convey all the Solar Renewable Energy Credits created by the system to Xcel. You’re eligible for additional payments from the state if you buy and install panels made in Minnesota. However, you have to apply for the Made in Minnesota program, and applications are accepted only between January 1 and February 28 each year. Your application then goes into a lottery. If it’s selected, the additional rebate could total as much as $.31 per kilowatt-hour above Xcel’s rate, but installers say the odds of winning are low.

Property tax exemption: Any increase in your home’s value as a result of installing solar panels is exempt from property taxes.
State sales tax exemption: You won’t pay sales tax on your system.