Nebraska Solar Incentives
What are the benefits of going solar in Nebraska?
The state of Nebraska is admittedly somewhat behind many other states in terms of encouraging the use of renewable energy sources like solar. Though they could be doing a lot more to encourage the use of solar energy, residents of the Cornhusker state looking to go solar will have a few things going their way, however.
- Nebraska requires all utilities to offer some form of net metering, which is a major plus for anybody looking to install solar panels. Net metering is the method by which the output of your solar panels is measured, including how much electricity your panels feed back into “the grid”. This is the way you will eventually be able to earn solar credits on future electric bills, providing you with free electricity not only while your panels are actively working but even at night when they aren’t producing. The net metering laws in Nebraska are worded vaguely so utilities have a little leeway on how they handle it, but ultimately any way you look at it, if you’re feeding power back into the grid and your utility is required to compensate you for it, that’s a win for solar panels.
- State Rebates- The utilities in the state of Nebraska do offer some small rebates to residents who choose to go solar. Some examples include:
- The Lincoln Electric System Sustainable Energy Fund: Offers a $500 rebate to consumers who switch from an electric heat pump or water heater system to a solar powered one.
- Nebraska Public Power District Residential Energy Efficiency Rebate Program
There are various other programs and rebates in place in Nebraska as well, depending on your utility company. Check with your utility to inquire about any possible programs they may have for customers who choose to go solar.
- State Tax Credit- The state of Nebraska does offer a credit on your state income taxes when installing solar panels. I cannot find anything that tells me how much it is or how it applies, but apparently it is out there. Your solar installer should be more familiar with this and will probably be able to help you with the paperwork necessary to apply for it.
- Federal Tax Credit- The federal government allows every taxpayer to claim 26% of the total cost of their solar installation as a deduction to their income tax liability. As a practical matter, this can save you a significant amount of money by essentially reducing the amount of income that you have to pay taxes on, perhaps by as much as $5,000.
- The “Payback” period for solar panels in Nebraska is around 10 years- In other words, after about 10 years of operating, your solar panels will have produced enough free electricity that they will have paid for themselves. Your solar panels will last for at least another 10-15 years after that point, meaning that they will continue to produce free electricity for you long, long after they have paid for themselves.
- Increase in home value- Homes with solar panels tend to be appraised at $10,000 to $20,000 more than similar homes without solar panels. There are a number of different ways used to calculate the value of homes with solar panels, but that is something you can learn more about should the need arise. Also, it is important to know that homes with solar panels are well known among realtors to sell faster than homes without them, another major bonus.
- Favorable Weather- Nebraska actually has great weather for solar panels, despite what you may believe. With the entire state averaging well over 200 days a year of sunshine and favorable temperatures to keep your solar panels operating at a high efficiency, Nebraska is actually just as good if not better than states with a more “sunny” reputation. Only two months in Nebraska (June and July) have an average high temperature of above 78, and 78 degrees fahrenheit is considered to be the highest “optimal” operating temperature for solar panels.
- REAP (Rural Energy for America Program)- The REAP program is designed for rural energy customers who wish to install renewable energy sources, such as solar panels. REAP loans are only available for small businesses in rural areas and agricultural producers who get 50% or more of their income from agricultural operations. For more information, see: usda.gov/programs-services/rural-energy-america-program-renewable-energy-systems-energy-efficiency/ne
What is the cost of Solar panels in Nebraska?
Solar panels in Nebraska average about $2.69 – $2.89 / watt. Most solar panels are sold in 250 watt sizes, so the average cost of a solar panel in Nebraska is going to be around $700. Normal houses require around 20 to 28 panels to operate independent of the grid, so your total cost for your solar panels is going to come out to something like $14,000 to $19,600 for a normal home installation. And though that is a lot of money, don’t forget that a large amount of your cost will be lessened by the various incentives, rebates, etc that are available to solar customers.
How much solar power do I need to power my home?
Although every home is different, it is a good bet that your home will require something like 5000 to 7000 watts of solar panels to operate independent of the grid. Your solar installer will give you a much better picture of exactly how many solar panels you need to power your home by examining your past electric bills, as well as taking into account other factors like home size, number of residents, etc.
So despite what you may believe about solar panels, Nebraska is just as good a state for solar energy as many of the more popular “sunny” states like Florida or California. Despite the state of Nebraska not being as proactive as some others in their promotion of residents converting to solar panels, in the end solar is still a great option for anybody with the financial means and ability to install panels.