Nonprofits navigating direct pay for solar

Anne BrockOur Town Outdoors

Federal incentives are supporting a growing trend for nonprofits wanting to use renewable energy. Houses of worship that connect via the nationwide Interfaith Power and Light group are sharing resources to save on utility bills while enacting environmental stewardship through solar.

Direct Pay, also called Elective Pay, is the newest tool churches and other nonprofits are applying for to save at least 30% in the long run on solar installations. The Internal Revenue Service offers a process explained on its website that involves having a system installed and commissioned (up and running), then pre-registering with the IRS, next applying for Direct Pay, and finally waiting a matter of months to receive this payment in lieu of a tax savings. The savings can be even 10 or 20 percent greater if the nonprofit is located in a federally designated area of low income or energy community status.

In an effort to inspire and guide congregations through the process of applying for their share of the new Direct Pay support, IPL offers several resources. These include recorded webinars available to the public with anecdotal experiences from church leaders who’ve already been applying for Direct Pay. See a couple of the most recent ones here and here.

For support for houses of worship in this state, you can contact Tennessee Interfaith Power and Light. This group sometimes hosts in-person workshops for education and outreach.

Another organization with a plan to assist nonprofits as they switch to renewable energy is the Appalachian Solar Finance Fund. Learn more about applying for its support here.

Anne Brock is marketing coordinator for Solar Alliance, which designs and manages solar installation projects for manufacturers, small businesses and nonprofits. She can be reached at or 865-221-8349.


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