Is Solar Worth It in Nebraska? (2023 Homeowner's Guide)
Here’s a quick overview of solar viability in Nebraska:
- Nebraska ranks 46th in the country for solar installations.*
- The average electricity rate is 10.80 cents per kilowatt-hour.**
- The average solar payback period is 16 years.***
- Homeowners are eligible for Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing and the federal solar investment tax credit (ITC).
- The average homeowner saves $13,421 over the lifetime of their solar system.***
*According to the Solar Energy Industries Association.1
**Data from the Energy Information Administration.2
***Calculated assuming the system is purchased in cash.
Nebraska ranks 46th in the nation for solar installations, and residents pay well below-average electricity rates and well above average for solar equipment. As such, many homeowners in Nebraska wonder if solar is worth the investment. While the general answer is that solar is usually a good option, it’s not right for everyone, and you should determine your solar viability before committing to clean energy.
Below, you’ll find information on how to assess your home to see if investing in solar panels is worthwhile. We’ll also include some information on the benefits of going solar and some considerations you need to make beforehand to ensure the best experience possible.
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How to Figure Out if Solar Panels are Worth It in Nebraska
Determining if your home is a good candidate for solar panels is a complicated process that involves assessing many factors, but it’s a crucial step to take. Below are the metrics you can use to figure out if you and your home will benefit from solar panel installation.
What’s Your Home Electricity Consumption?
First, you’ll want to figure out your home’s average monthly energy consumption. Solar panels provide savings on your electric bills, so if you don’t use enough energy, your savings will be limited, and the panels might never provide a return on investment.
A good benchmark for solar viability is at least 500 kilowatt-hours of energy consumption per month. If you use less than that, your home likely isn’t ideal for solar conversion.
Most homeowners in Nebraska consume well above the national average of kilowatt-hours every month, averaging around 1,013. This also puts most homeowners at more than double the cutoff for solar viability, which means, from a consumption and potential savings standpoint, Nebraskans are in good shape to save by going solar. You can check your energy usage on your past electric bills.
How Much Is It To Go Solar in Nebraska?
The price of solar panels in Nebraska averages around $2.83 per watt, which is well above the national average of $2.66. Most homes in Nebraska need a 10.5-kW system to offset electricity usage, which puts the average total for solar panels in the area at $21,989 after the federal tax credit is considered.
Solar is most valuable in areas with above-average electricity prices and usage. While consumption is higher than average in NE, the price of energy is lower than average.
Coupled with the high per-watt price of solar equipment in the Cornhusker State, solar power in Nebraska is less valuable overall than in many other states. With that being said, many solar customers still enjoy plenty of savings with their solar systems in Nebraska.
What’s the Payback Period for Solar in Nebraska?
The price of solar panels in Nebraska might be high, but residents can rest assured that most home solar systems pay for themselves in time. The time it takes for this payoff to occur is called the solar panel payback period , and it’s one of the best metrics for determining solar viability.
The average payback period in Nebraska is 16 years, with most payoffs occurring in 13 to 19 years. This is well above the national average of 12 years, which, again, means solar is less valuable in Nebraska than in many other states.
You can use a solar calculator to estimate your payback period or have a solar installer estimate it for you. If your payback period is longer than 19 years, solar might not be a good investment, although anything under 25 years is expected to provide some kind of return.
What Are Average Buy-Back Rates in Nebraska?
Many states now mandate net metering, which is a massive benefit to solar customers. Via interconnection, net metering lets you overproduce energy with your solar panels and sell the excess to your utility company for a credit to your electric bill.
Net metering reduces your payback period, increases your overall savings and makes solar panel systems much more valuable.
The State of Nebraska does require net metering to be offered by all public utility companies. However, the credit rate per kilowatt-hour isn’t set, so many providers will offer a rate that’s below the retail rate. This is still helpful, but it’s not ideal.
Many customers will want to add a solar battery to their photovoltaic equipment to store energy. This allows you to use more of your produced energy for free and provides power during outages.
How Much Sun Does Your Roof Receive?
Solar panels require sunlight to produce electricity, so the more sun your roof receives, the more power you’ll generate and the more savings you’ll enjoy. Nebraska receives around 223 sunny days every year, which is above the national average of 205.
From a sunlight availability standpoint, Nebraska is an excellent place to go solar and better than most in the country. You will also need to assess your individual home for solar viability, as not every property in NE receives the same amount of sunlight.
You should check the direction your roof faces , as south-facing and west-facing roofs receive the most direct sunlight in the US. You will also need to check for shading on your roof from trees or buildings, especially during peak production hours. Any obstructions will reduce your power production and make your panels less valuable.
What’s the Outlook on Solar in Nebraska?
Overall, renewable energy sources are looked on favorably in Nebraska, so solar certainly has its place in the area. However, wind power is currently more prevalent, with more than 10% of the state’s energy coming from wind. 3
Furthermore, Nebraska is one of just a few states that doesn’t have a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) goal, so it puts few resources behind promoting solar and other clean energy sources. As you might have guessed, the solar incentives in NE are lacking as a result.
However, there are still some incentives for solar panel installation, and residential solar installations have increased significantly over the past decade. The likelihood is that the solar market will continue to increase in the future.
Benefits of Solar Energy in Nebraska
Installing solar panels in Nebraska will provide you with many benefits, from financial incentives to environmental perks. We’ll discuss some of the most significant benefits of going solar below.
Electricity Bill Savings
Solar panels help you offset or even eliminate your electric bills. Given the average monthly energy expenditure in Nebraska of $109.39, the savings on power bills are the most appealing benefit of solar panel installation.
The potential annual savings is around $1,313, and your solar power system is expected to provide a total savings of $13,421 after the system pays for itself. Your savings could end up being even higher, as electricity rates are expected to continue to increase as they have in the past.
The numbers above are based on current power prices, so yours could be higher if electricity continues to get more expensive. Solar panels effectively let you reduce your energy rates substantially for 25+ years.
Lower Taxes & Access to Other Incentives
Although Nebraska isn’t the most solar-friendly state, the local and federal governments do provide some incentives to make converting to this renewable energy source more appealing. One of the most sought-after benefits is the federal solar tax credit (ITC).
The ITC is a credit to your federal income tax liability for 30% of your total solar panel expense. In Nebraska, the average ITC enjoyed by solar customers is $8,915. Some additional solar incentives in Nebraska are discussed briefly below:
- Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Financing: PACE loans are a type of solar financing designed to make solar more accessible and affordable to all residents. They include a max interest rate and low down payment requirements to open solar up to more homeowners throughout the state.
- Net Metering: As we mentioned above, net metering is a great policy that helps solar customers reduce their repayment time frame and maximize solar savings. Nebraska’s net metering policy isn’t the best, but it’s certainly helpful.
- Sales and Use Tax Exemption for Community Renewable Energy Projects: This is a sales tax exemption for solar equipment used for community solar projects. While this doesn’t specifically help residential customers installing their own panels, it does make solar more affordable for some in Nebraska.
- Property Tax Exemption for Renewable Energy Generation Facilities: This is a property tax exemption that really only appeals to large commercial solar projects and solar farms. However, it does contribute to lower solar expenses overall in Nebraska.
Home Resale Value Increase
Installing solar panels will significantly boost your home value , making solar conversion a very appealing option for many residents. According to estimates from Zillow, the average home will jump up in value by around 4.1%. 4
In Nebraska, where the average property value is around $233,006, most homeowners will see a value increase of around $9,553. 5 This dollar amount could be much higher in more expensive areas, like Omaha and Lincoln.
The bump in home value provided by a solar PV system is only expected if you acquire your panels with a cash purchase or solar loan. A major downside of solar leases and power purchase agreements (PPAs) is that they will not have a positive impact on your home value.
Clean, Renewable Energy
Most homeowners will also find the environmental benefits of going solar enticing as well. Installing solar panels and producing your own energy increases your energy independence, reduces your contribution to pollution and global warming and makes you less reliant on fossil fuels. Overall, solar panels make you and your home far more eco-friendly.
What to Look Out For When Considering Solar in Nebraska
Although confirming that your home is a good candidate for a solar panel system is a crucial first step, there are other things you’ll need to consider in your journey toward solar conversion. We’ll discuss these additional important factors below.
The upfront fees of going solar will always be essential to factor in, especially in Nebraska, where the average price of solar equipment is higher than the national average. One of the best ways to keep initial fees down is by choosing a loan that has a small down payment requirement or none at all.
Nebraskans have access to PACE financing, which should help. You can also choose cheaper solar panel brands and avoid add-on products like solar batteries to keep your upfront investment low.
Your estimated solar panel payback period is one of the most crucial metrics to use, not only to determine the value of solar on your property but also your estimated long-term savings. Most Nebraskans have a payback period of between 13 and 19 years, with an average of 16 years.
If your payback period is longer than 19 years but under 25 years, you’ll still save money over time, but your return on investment might not make the investment worth it for you.
Net Metering Policies in Nebraska
The State of Nebraska mandates net metering for all public utilities, but it doesn’t require any specific buy-back rate. As a result, many utility companies offer a rate that’s well below the retail rate for energy, so be sure to check with your provider before you agree to anything.
While this is still better than no net metering policy, customers who want to eliminate their energy bills or maximize their savings will likely have to install a solar battery as well. This will increase installation expenses significantly but often pays for itself over time.
Pending Policies & Changes to Incentives
Policies and incentives are always subject to change as the solar industry matures in Nebraska. Some policies could disappear, new rebate programs could pop up and existing incentives could be altered to be better or worse for solar customers.
It’s important to note that it will likely reduce your overall savings to wait for better incentives to come along, but you should absolutely check for updates before signing solar contracts.
Weather & Climate in Nebraska
Solar panels are most efficient near the equator, where the sunlight is most intense. As such, homeowners in Nebraska often worry that the northern location of the state will mean sunlight isn’t available enough to make solar profitable.
Although the sun’s intensity is lower in NE than in many other states, residents experience 223 sunny days per year, which is usually plenty of sunlight to make solar worth it and well above the national average.
Other Nebraska residents are concerned about the state’s location in Tornado Alley and the threat of damage to their solar systems during extreme weather. Tornadoes can damage solar equipment, but choosing a solar panel installation company that provides a good warranty is often enough to provide ample peace of mind.
Companies Pushing Solar Leases or PPAs
Finally, you should be very careful when choosing a solar installer to tackle your installation project. Some solar companies in Nebraska don’t have your best interests at heart.
One of the primary examples of this is companies advertising “ free solar panels .” Solar panels are never really free, and these installers are usually just pushing solar leases.
Solar leases aren’t ideal, as they don’t let you take the ITC, they don’t increase your home value and they take far longer to pay off, reducing your overall return on investment. There have been local reports from Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) of disingenuous solar companies in the Omaha area that are using aggressive sales tactics to push solar leases on customers. 5
There have also been reports of inexperienced solar companies causing residents to lose thousands and sometimes tens of thousands of dollars throughout Nebraska. 6 You should always work with reputable and vetted solar installers to avoid these issues and other scams.
Wrap Up: Is Solar Worth it in Nebraska?
For most Nebraska homeowners, installing solar panels is an excellent option that saves quite a lot of money over time. However, solar panels aren’t suitable for every home, so we recommend using the guide above to help you determine if solar is a good option for your property.
Some things you’ll want to consider include the direction your roof faces, shading on your property, your estimated solar panel payback period, the solar array size required and the price of the panels. We suggest reaching out to a reliable solar installer to help you decide if you’d benefit from solar conversion if you’re unsure.
See also: Calculate how much you can save by going solar
Read More About Going Solar
Frequently Asked Questions
We’re thrilled to get questions often about the prospect of going solar and how to determine if it’s a worthwhile endeavor. We’ll list some of the more popular questions we get and our responses below.
If you have specific questions that aren’t answered here, reach out to our team of solar experts at email@example.com.
The time it takes for solar panels to pay for themselves in energy savings will vary depending on quite a few factors. These include your solar energy system expense, your average monthly energy bill, shading on your property and more.
The average solar panel payback period in Nebraska is 16 years, with most residents falling between 13 and 19 years. Installing a solar battery along with your panels might reduce this number, as can a favorable net metering policy from your utility company.
Most of the time, installing solar panels will save a significant amount of money. The average Nebraska resident pays $109.39 for electricity every month.
If you can eliminate your electric bill, that’s an annual saving of $1,313. In about 16 years, this will pay off your installation expenses, and the remaining 9+ years of expected system life will provide you with additional savings amounting to an average of $13,421.
As long as you purchase or finance your solar panels, the system will add a significant amount to your home value. According to research from Zillow, the typical home increases in value by around 4.1% after solar conversion, or by an average of $9,553 in Nebraska.
It’s important to note that Nebraska does not offer a property tax exemption for solar equipment, so your property taxes will increase a bit after going solar.
Yes, permits are required to install solar panels in Nebraska. Your solar panel installation company will usually include permits expenses in your total price estimate, and they will also handle the permitting process on your behalf.
Installing your own solar panels is a possibility in Nebraska, although we don’t recommend it. The process is inherently dangerous, and while you’ll save on labor, you will also be putting your safety at risk, as well as your property and your panels. We strongly recommend deferring to a professional and experienced installer.
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