solar panels nebraska

Incentive Program for Solar Panels Lacking in Nebraska

Nebraska seems to be dragging its feet when it comes to incenting residents to install solar panels.

For a state that doesn’t get a lot of press, Nebraska certainly has a few things about it that’s newsworthy. The birth place of Arbor Day, Nebraska is home to Warren Buffet’s company Berkshire Hathaway. The state’s official drink, Kool-Aid, was created there in 1927 by Edwin Perkins. And if that wasn’t enough, the infamous Carhenge is located in Alliance Nebraska. But even though it is a leading farm state, Nebraska has no incentive program in place for the installation of solar panels.

In 2006, Nebraska consumed approximately 659 trillion Btus (British Thermal Units) of energy. Of that amount, only 4% came from renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. In contrast, 66% of Nebraska’s energy was generated using oil (33%) and coal (33%). The balance is made up of natural gas (18%) and nuclear power (13%).

Installing solar panels to harness the free energy of the sun could reduce the cost of farming in Nebraska which in turn should reduce the price of the food they produce. A 3 kWh (Kilowatt hour) solar system in Nebraska would produce about 5475 kWh of electricity per year (based on 5 hours of sunlight per day). The average household in America uses about 11,000 kwH of electricity every year so you would effectively cut your electric bill in half.

Farms, of course, are much bigger than the average house but that same 3 kWh solar panel system could exclusively run electric fences or water pumps. It is possible to power the entire farm using only solar panels but since the average Nebraska farm uses 1.2 Megawatts of electricity per year you would need a lot of them.

The best type of system for a farm is a standalone system that captures the sun’s rays using solar panels and stores it in batteries for later use. These tend to be a little more expensive but are worth the price because you will be able to use the solar power even when the sun isn’t shining. Nebraska does have a net metering program where you can sell your excess electricity to the utility company at $0.035 (winter) and $0.08 (summer) per kWh.

If you want to purchase solar panels but don’t have the funds, Nebraska does offer the Dollar and Energy Savings Loan program. This program allows residential and commercial applicants to get a low interest loan to pay for the cost of renewable energy equipment. Residential homes can qualify for $35,000 to $75,000 while commercial projects can get $75,000 to $175,000. That’s still a good bit of money going towards the cost of your solar panels even though you do have to pay it back.

And of course all Nebraska residents are eligible for the federal incentive that gives you a 30% tax rebate on the cost of your solar panels. So a $10,000 system would net you $3,000 off your federal taxes.

When it comes to promoting the use of solar energy and providing incentives to residents to install solar panels, Nebraska does seem to be dragging their feet. In the end, it will be up to the homeowners and business owners to contact their governmental agencies about changing things.

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