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North Dakota Solar – Everything You Need to Know

north-dakota-solar

Information about Solar Panels in North Dakota

North Dakota ranks dead last when comparing each state’s total solar capacity, with just 250 kW of solar installed. That's less than 50 homes' worth of solar! In comparison, over 700,000 homes in California have solar installed. Why is the solar industry so stagnant in North Dakota?

Residents already enjoy low electricity prices, so there's no real urge to explore other electricity options. On top of that, the state has also passed very little regulation to encourage growth of the solar industry. All of this together means few homeowners have found solar a truly beneficial step.

North Dakota solar, though, is not a total bust. While low now, electricity rates are rising faster than the national average, and even with the low utility rates, residents can still save money by installing solar. You won’t save as much as a California homeowner, but by choosing financing wisely and keeping costs as low as possible, going green can be a worthwhile decision for both you and the planet.

Below, we have the overall information you need on going solar in North Dakota, including savings estimates as well as an overview of relevant regulations and incentives.

#1 Are Solar Panels Worth it in North Dakota?

D
Overall Grade

17 years

Avg. Payback Time (For Cash Purchase)

​4.1 %

Estimated IRR (Return on your investment on cash purchase over 25 years)

$​8,597

Your Net Profit Over 25 Years (Cash Purchase)

* Note that these are estimated values for informational purposes only, and do not take into account the full complexity of all financial projections. They also only apply to cash purchases, which means your numbers will be different if you lease your system or pay for it with a loan (factoring in interest). Also note that we are not financial advisors, so this information should not be construed as financial advice.

#2 Options for Buying Solar Panels in North Dakota

Purchasing your solar installation, either via cash or loan, is the way to go in North Dakota. Well, it’s the only way to go.

Cash Upfront

Paying for your solar installation in cash offers quite a few benefits. First, your total savings are higher than with a loan or lease since you’re avoiding paying interest or any other additional fees. Secondly, since you’ll completely own the system (unlike a solar lease), you’re eligible for the 30% federal tax credit to further lower your total cost.

Lastly, since your solar installation is a home improvement, you’re adding a valuable asset to your property which you may see a financial return on when you sell your home (more on that later).

Of course, with all these benefits, there’s that one big drawback: you actually have to put all that cash down upfront as well. Not an easy task for most of us. On top of that, North Dakota residents enjoy pretty low electricity prices, and there’s little help to drop the cost of going solar beyond the federal tax credit. Savings simply aren’t as high as in other nearby states like Colorado, Minnesota, or Wyoming.

Exactly how much you can save by installing in North Dakota depends on your system size, location, and utility rates. When we looked at installation costs from a few different sources, we found that an average-sized 5kW installation in North Dakota should cost about $17,650, or $12,355 after the 30% federal tax credit.

This installation will produce clean, free electricity each year – electricity you’ll no longer have to purchase from the utility. By Year 17, you’ll have paid off your entire initial investment. By Year 25, you can expect to have saved around $8,597 – a 4.1% internal return on your investment (after taking into account the federal tax credit, solar production in North Dakota, and the average utility rate in the state).

Bottom Line: Paying in cash is the best way to see the highest return possible on your solar investment. However, with the low electricity rates, it’ll take you about 17 years to see a recoup your costs. After that, it’s all savings!

Solar Leases

If you enter into a solar lease, your solar company both installs and retains ownership of your solar installation. You make small monthly payments to your installer for the privilege to use the equipment over the lease term, typically around 20 years, and you save money by avoiding that costly utility-sourced electricity.

By allowing homeowners to bypass that high purchase price of solar, leases helped start the solar boom back in the late 2000s. At their height in 2014, leases and PPAs accounted for over 70% of the residential solar market, but since have quickly lost ground as installation costs continue to drop and more homeowners realize the benefits of solar ownership.

Leases require additional costs that cash and loans don’t. There are additional fees, as well as inherent interest tacked onto the monthly payments. So while leases, like loans, don’t require any cash up front, they limit homeowners’ total savings when compared to ownership.

With electricity prices so low in North Dakota, it’s unlikely you could even save money with a solar lease and solar lease companies like Sunrun have yet to enter the state. If you want to finance your installation via a lease, you better look elsewhere.

Bottom Line: With no big installers offering solar leases in North Dakota, you’ll need to look to cash or loan to finance your installation. But that’s not a bad thing, as you can save more money anyway.

More: Solar Leases

Solar Loans

If you don’t have the cash in your bank account to pay for your installation upfront, loans are the next best thing. Sure, you have to pay interest – which cuts into your savings – but you still get to take advantage of the federal tax credit and benefit from the increased value the system adds to your property.

If you took out a standard 15 year loan with 5% interest, you’d add an extra $7,001 to your total investment, bringing your cost up to $19,356 (after the federal tax credit). With this increased investment, your total savings also drop pretty significantly, to just $1,596 with a 24-year payback period. Yikes!

Needless to say, that’s a pretty long time. However, if you’re dead set on going solar and just want to do your part for the environment, loans require little investment on your own part and the financial savings you’ll see from your reduced utility bills will more than cover the costs in the long term.

There are special lenders focused exclusively on financing solar installations, but you can also use a HELOC or HELOAN from your own bank as well. Just remember, the lower the interest rate and shorter the period, the more you can save. If you can pay off your loan early, you can decrease your total interest and add that to your savings!

Bottom Line: Requiring little money down, solar loans are a great alternative for those who don’t have the capital to pay in cash. However, you’re not going to get rich, thanks to North Dakota’s extremely low electricity rates, and it’ll take a long, long time to recoup that investment.

More: Solar Loans

#3 North Dakota Solar Policy Information

Policy is hugely important to helping the fledging solar industry grow. Good pro-solar policy can jumpstart a state’s entire renewable industry, but a lack of supportive policies resigns the local industry to stagnation. How is North Dakota’s solar policy? Well, remember how there’s only about 50 homes with solar in the entire state? That is a good tip off that it’s not great.

Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS)

Renewable portfolio standards, or RPSs for short, are goals that states pass mandating that local utilities must source a certain percentage of all the electricity they sell from renewable resources by a certain date.

As of 2018, 29 states have passed renewable portfolio standards, and Montana’s 15% by 2015 and North Carolina’s 12.5% by 2021 are pretty standard examples. These goals force utilities to adopt renewable energy much faster than they otherwise would, either through building their own renewable energy plants, purchasing renewable electricity from a private company, or buying RECs.

In contrast to the states above, North Dakota adopted a renewable portfolio goal (instead of a standard) of 10% renewable by 2015. In comparison to a mandatory standard, a goal is completely voluntary. Utilities aren’t required to adopt renewable energy and there’s no penalty if they don’t comply.

While we’d like to see an actual mandatory goal, renewable energy in North Dakota is actually doing really well, thanks to their proliferation of wind power. In 2017, 25% of all electricity sold in North Dakota came from wind and 5% came from hydro-power. In fact, North Dakota is 5th in the nation for wind power capacity. Not bad!

However, if the state wants to begin pushing the local renewable energy industry forward – especially the solar industry – adopting an updated RPS is an important step forward.

More: Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS)

Electricity Prices

North Dakota’s proliferation of coal allows residents to benefit from the 2nd cheapest electricity in the country (besides Louisiana). While the US average hovers around $0.13 per kWh, North Dakota residents pay a scant $0.09/kWh as of March 2018. A four cent difference might not sound like much, but when you consider that the average North Dakota homes uses 12,500 kWh each year, that’s a $500 difference annually.

We can’t complain about low electricity prices, but it does make saving money by installing solar more difficult. If your utility charges more, then you can save more by installing a solar system on your roof and avoiding that high-priced electricity.

While you can still save money with solar in an area with low electricity rates, it just takes longer to recoup your initial investment. And as we saw above, this is the case in North Dakota, where you’ll have to wait 17 years to see that return on your cash purchase.

North Dakota Net Metering

North Dakota passed what they call net metering regulations in 1991, but they’re a far cry from what many in the utility/solar sector consider ‘real’ net metering, wherein utilities provide solar homeowners one-to-one, full retail rate credit for all excess electricity they put into the grid. With full retail rate net metering, if you pay the utility $0.13 per kWh, they’ll credit your account at $0.13 per kWh for all the solar electricity you add to the grid as well.

North Dakota requires all investor-owned utilities (ie publicly-traded utilities) to pay homeowners for all excess generation at their avoided cost – essentially what they pay to purchase or produce that same amount of electricity. Typically this works out to around $0.03 to $0.05 per kWh – a fraction of the retail rate.

This might not sound too bad, but even utilities in states without any net metering regulations will offer solar homeowners bill credits or payment at their avoided-cost. Net metering credits at avoided cost simply aren’t anything special.

Without full retail rate net metering, your total solar savings depends on how much of your solar electricity you can use directly in your own home.

For simplicity in our savings examples above, we assumed you use 100% of all your solar electricity in your own home without sending any to the grid. In the real world, though, this is virtually impossible.

During the day, when you’re at work and your installation is pumping out electricity, it’s inevitable you’ll send some to the grid. At this time, instead of avoiding $0.09 per kWh, you’ll be credited at $0.04 per kWh or whatever your utility’s avoided cost is (you’ll need to ask them).

You’re still coming out ahead financially, as you can use that money to pay for electricity down the road, but it’s not quite as much as homeowners in other states.

North Dakota’s less-than-stellar net metering regulations certainly aren’t a deal breaker, but it’s crucial to work with your installer to estimate exactly how they will affect your total savings.

More: Net Metering

Interconnection Rules

In tandem with net metering regulations, many states also pass regulations making the process for homeowners to connect their solar installation to the utility grid – known as interconnection – as easy as possible.

North Dakota has yet to pass any sort of interconnection standards, so each utility can charge whatever fees they deem worthy, require homeowners to install extra safety features that add costs to the installation, and take as long as they want in the approval process.

From a practical standpoint, you don’t need to worry too much, as your solar installer will have the inside scoop on your utility’s requirements and likely even fill out all the paperwork for you. However, state-wide interconnection standards make the process of installing solar easier for everyone, and we’d love to see North Dakota adopt one in the future.

Solar Access Rights and Homeowners Associations

In addition to RPSs, net metering, and interconnection regulations, solar-friendly states often pass laws protecting solar installations as well, in two different aspects:

First, solar installations obviously need sunlight and many states allow homeowners to create property easements for the airspace directly south of the solar panels. This prevents neighbors from building additions or planting trees that would block sunlight and render the panels useless. North Dakota allows solar homeowners to obtain a solar easement with neighbor’s approval.

Many states also protect their residents’ right to install solar, banning HOAs or any other covenants from blocking solar. Without these protections, a cantankerous HOA can simply deny a homeowner’s request for approval for their solar installation, with little legal recourse to counter the denial.

North Dakota has yet to pass any laws offering such protection. If you live in a covenant-controlled community, the best course of action is to speak early with the approval board, stay friendly and flexible, and provide as much information as possible on the benefits of solar. Remember – solar raises home values, and that’s certainly a selling point for the community!

#4 North Dakota Solar Incentives, Rebates, and Tax Credits 

North Dakota residents can look to the federal tax credit and a state property tax exemption for help in lowering their total solar investment, but that’s about all there is.

Federal Tax Credit

The federal government offers a personal income tax credit (known as the solar tax credit, Investment Tax Credit, or ITC) for homeowners installing solar, worth 30% of the cost of the entire installation. As a tax credit (as opposed to a deduction, which lowers your taxable income), the ITC lowers your actual taxes dollar-for-dollar, so it’s an incredible deal – as long as you owe enough in taxes to benefit.

As a nonrefundable credit, the feds won’t cut you a check if you owe less than $0. However, if your tax liability isn’t high enough in a single year to claim the full credit, you can break it out in chunks over several years.

With the ITC, you just slashed $5k off your $17,000 installation. Not bad, huh? If you want to take advantage, you’ll need to get in gear. The full credit expires at the end of 2019, at which point it drops to 26% for a year, then 22% the next year, after which it’s toast forever (unless it gets extended again, but don’t count on it).

More: Solar Federal Tax Credit

North Dakota Tax Credits/Rebates

Though they’re becoming less and less common, some individual states also provide tax credits for solar installations. North Dakota isn’t one of them.

Solar Property Tax Exemption

North Dakota does offer a property tax exemption on the additional value your solar installation adds to your house. Homeowners can exempt 100% of the value of their solar installation for the first 5 years. With the average North Dakota property tax at 1.34%, that’s more than $1,000 over the life of the exemption for an average-sized installation worth about $17k. Pretty cool!

Solar Sales Tax Exemption

In an effort to further lower the cost of going solar, some states also exempt solar equipment and labor from state sales tax. With the North Dakota state sales tax at 5%, you could save about $850 on an average-sized system. Unfortunately, the state doesn’t offer a sales tax exemption for solar installations at this time.

General Increase in Home Value

Just like remodeling your kitchen or adding hardwood floors, installing solar on your roof is a valuable asset that can raise the resale value of your home. However, unlike hardwoods that are purely aesthetic, solar adds value because it lowers your home’s operating expenses (ie cheaper electricity).

Exactly how much value solar brings depends on the size and age of your installation. In 2015, the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab studied home sales across 8 states (though not including North Dakota) over 14 years and found that, on average, homes with solar sold for a $4/watt premium.

At this rate, a 5kW installation would then add $20k to the value of your home. Brand new systems were valued at over $5.90/watt and decreased to $2.60/watt for the oldest systems (around 20 years old). (p.18)

While a solar installation in North Dakota might not fetch $4/watt, due to the low electricity prices and less-than-perfect net metering laws, even just a quarter of that premium would allow you to recoup a major portion of your initial investment.

More: Buyers Will Pay More for Solar Homes

If you’d like to dig even more on local incentives and rebates, check out the DSIRE database.

#5 Fargo Solar Information

If you live in the biggest city in North Dakota, you might be wondering if you need to know anything special.

While Cass County Electric Cooperative, Fargo’s local electric utility, doesn’t offer any rebates or credits for solar residents, they do offer a couple programs for their renewably-minded customers.

First, in 2016 they completed the state’s first ever community solar garden, Prairie Sun, a 102-kW system located in Fargo. Community solar allows homeowners who can’t install solar panels on their roof (renters, shade issues, etc) to join in on the solar game. According to their website, they’re still accepting reservations from co-op members.

Secondly, if you own an electric vehicle, they offer a steeply-discounted electricity rate ($0.055/kWh) for charging during certain times, as well as $50/kW rebates for your charger.

While North Dakota isn’t the state you probably think of when you think ‘solar’, homeowners can actually save a decent chunk of money by going green. However, it’s a long-term investment, and you need patience to see that investment come to fruition. Beyond that, you’ll have the peace of mind knowing you’re taking a lighter step in the environment – and that’s what it’s all about, right?

Image Credits under CC License via Flickr – 1, 3, 4 and Pixabay – 2

West Virginia Solar – Everything You Need to Know

west virginia solar

Information about Solar Panels in West Virginia

Interested in going solar in coal country? You’ve come to the right place! Despite the fact that West Virginia sees the highest percentage of electricity generated from coal in the whole country (a whopping 94%), the state has passed a handful of regulations to make the process of going solar much easier for homeowners. 

And, even though there’s no state or local incentives to drop the total investment homeowners must bring to the table, you can still come away with $14k in savings by installing solar – though it takes quite a few years to see a return on your investment.

Read on for more information on cost and savings, relevant policies, and solar incentives available in the Mountain State.

#1 Are Solar Panels Worth it in West Virginia?

C+
Overall Grade

1​5 years

Avg. Payback Time (For Cash Purchase)

​6.1 %

Estimated IRR (Return on your investment on cash purchase over 25 years)

$​14,461

Your Net Profit Over 25 Years (Cash Purchase)

* Note that these are estimated values for informational purposes only, and do not take into account the full complexity of all financial projections. They also only apply to cash purchases, which means your numbers will be different if you lease your system or pay for it with a loan (factoring in interest). Also note that we are not financial advisors, so this information should not be construed as financial advice.

#2 Options for Buying Solar Panels in West Virginia

Despite virtually no incentives, going solar in West Virginia can save you upwards of $14k, though you’ll need to be patient to recoup your initial investment.

Cash Upfront

Buying solar in cash allows you to avoid those pesky interest or lease payments that bump up your total investment and claw away at your savings. Paying in cash also allows you to take advantage of the lucrative 30% federal tax credit to further increase your savings. On top of all this, you’re adding a tangible value-adding asset to your home, which can help when it comes time to sell (you can read more about this later).

Exactly how much you will spend (and save) installing solar in West Virginia depends on your installation size, but let’s take a look at a medium-sized 5kW installation to get an idea.

Looking at installation costs in West Virginia from a few different sources, we estimate a 5kW installation to cost $17,650 before the 30% federal income tax credit, and $12,355 afterwards. This mid-sized installation will put out about 6,426 kWh the first year, equal to $710 at the average utility rate of $0.11 per kWh (6426 kWh*$0.11). At this rate, you’ll recoup your initial investment in 15 years, admittedly longer than in many other states.

However, after 25 years (the lifespan of the majority of solar installations), you’ll reap about $14,461 in total cash savings, equal to a 6.1% investment return – certainly not bad at all.

Bottom Line: You’ll see a good return on your investment with a cash purchase, but it’s going to take about 15 years to see that money in your pocket again.

Leases

Unfortunately, West Virginia doesn’t allow power purchase agreements (PPAs) and none of the big solar installers that offer leases work in the state. If you were hoping to take out a lease to go solar, you’ll have to reconsider.

With that said, it’s not a total loss. Once-popular solar leases are on their way out as ownership (either in cash or via a loan) takes its place. While leases allow homeowners to go solar without any upfront cash (like loans), leases – with all their fees and additional costs – drop your total savings more than any other financing.

Bottom Line: Solar leases aren’t an option in West Virginia, but don’t be too sad. Cash and loan purchases usually allow you to save more in the long-term.

More: Solar Leases

Loans

Don’t have the cash to put out upfront? Take a look into loans to pay for your system. With solar so popular these days, you can take out a loan through a dedicated solar loan company, or your bank or credit union via a Home Equity Line of Credit or a 2nd mortgage.

Obviously, you’ll have to pay interest on your loan and your bottom line savings will suffer as a result. But for little to no money down, you’re not sacrificing much. Instead you’re saving money in the long-term, and you’re lessening your carbon footprint at the same time.

Signing off on a fairly standard 5% 15-year loan on the 5kW system above tacks on an additional $7,001 in interest, cutting your total savings to $7,460 ($14,461 – $7,001) with a return of just 2.3%. That probably doesn’t sound too great, and don’t forget you’re going to be upside down financially until Year 20.

If you’re planning to stay in your home for the long-term, a 20-year payback doesn’t really affect your life. But if you’re planning to move in the short to mid-term, taking out a solar loan probably doesn’t make sense.

On the plus side, as you’re still the owner of the installation, you can take advantage of the federal tax credit (which is accounted for in our calculations above). And, just like a cash purchase, you’re adding a tangible, money-saving asset to your roof that can add quite a bit to your home’s property value.

Bottom Line: Taking out a loan can still save you $7k on your electricity bills, but with such a long time to recoup, it’s likely too long of a wait for most homeowners.

More: Solar Loans

#3 West Virginia Solar Policy Information

Passing policies that support and encourage homeowners and businesses to install solar is the single greatest catalyst to a local solar boom. That’s how important good solar policy is. West Virginia’s done a great job in some areas, like net metering and solar rights, but is severely lacking in others.

Renewable Portfolio Standard

You’re probably not familiar with Renewable Portfolio Standards, also known as RPSs, but they’re actually fairly common, with 29 states having adopted one in some form or another. RPSs are state-level mandatory goals that a specified percentage of electricity comes from solar, wind, or other renewable sources.

Since utilities are in charge of generating and selling electricity, the burden to adopt renewables falls on these organizations, typically with stiff penalties if they don’t comply. Utilities can generate renewable energy themselves, purchase renewably-sourced electricity, or even purchase Renewable Energy Credits from businesses and homeowners (like yourself) to meet these requirements.

As such, RPSs are the underlying foundation for much of the solar policy and industry growth in a state. Without an RPS, utilities have no reason to adopt or encourage others to install solar, so green industry remains stagnant.

Unfortunately, West Virginia – along with most other southern states – have yet to adopt any form of RPS.

More: Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS)

Electricity Prices

Electricity prices have a direct, causal relationship to your solar savings. Since you’re generating your own energy and avoiding pricey utility-sourced electricity, high electricity prices leads to high solar savings. In the same way, low electricity prices mean lower solar savings and a longer time required to see a return on your investment.

As of February 2018, West Virginia’s average electricity price is just over $0.11 per kWh, more than a penny less than the national average of $0.12 per kWh. A penny probably doesn’t sound like much, but that’s almost a 10% discount – which can add up quickly!

But that’s not the whole story. Utilities also regularly increase their electricity prices due to rising operating and generating costs. The average utility in the US increases their prices 2.6% each year, but in West Virginia that number climbs up to 4.1% – the 6th fastest growing state in the US!

What does all this mean? Well, you’ve already seen the results above. Even though savings increase by $20 – $40 annually thanks to the rising utility rates, solar installations in West Virginia need quite a bit of time to recoup that initial investment because the electricity rates right now are so low.

Net Metering

West Virginians looking to install solar can rejoice in that the state passed excellent net metering regulations in 2006. Solar homeowners receive full retail rate credit for all unused electricity that goes into the grid. Under this system, if you pay your utility $0.11 per kWh for electricity, they’ll also credit your account at $0.11 per kWh for any solar electricity you send to the grid. That’s great news, but there’s more!

In some states, if you have any credits left in your account at the end of 12 months, you either forfeit them or the utility pays you at their avoided cost (the amount they would pay to generate that electricity, typically about 1/3 of the retail rate). In West Virginia, though, your credits rollover indefinitely, allowing you to use them years down the line if available. That’s pretty cool!

Unfortunately, the state passed new regulations in 2015 limiting solar to just 3% of total generation. We’re obviously still miles away from that cap – solar makes up just 0.01% of all electricity in the state – but limiting clean renewable energy before any issues even exist isn’t something you want to see.

Even more worryingly, they passed a bill allowing utilities to adopt new regulations (with approval, of course) if net metering begins to cause a financial burden on non-solar customers (one part of what’s known as the utility death spiral).

While this could allow for new, balanced regulation at some point in the future, we’ll have to wait and see exactly what happens – and how it affects existing, and future, solar homeowners.

More: Net Metering

Interconnection Rules

Like net metering regulations, West Virginia’s interconnection regulations – or the rules around connecting your solar installation to the utility grid – are also pretty solar friendly.

Homeowners looking to install systems under 25kW (which is the max size allowed for net metering) pay a max $30 application fee and installations do not need an additional external safety disconnect switch, allowing homeowners to avoid that additional cost required in some states.

However, unlike in most other solar-friendly states, WV homeowners are required to maintain $100k insurance for installations, which can certainly eat into your savings.

Your installer will have all the details for your specific utility, but overall these rules aren’t too bad at all.

Solar Access Rights and Homeowners Associations

Because many see renewable energy as a key piece of our future energy and environmental security, many states have taken steps to protect homeowners’ right to go solar, specifically in two distinct ways:

First, a handful of states have passed legislation protecting homeowners’ right to install solar by banning HOAs, covenants, or any other organizations from barring or placing overly strict rules around solar installations. West Virginia’s done a great job with this one, voiding any document that prohibits or unnecessarily restricts solar installations, though organizations can impose ‘reasonable restrictions’ on solar – a common caveat in other states’ solar right policy as well.

Second, some states have passed laws protecting the airspace directly in front of a homeowner’s solar panels from shade due to trees, buildings, or anything else. Many states allow homeowners to create a solar easement on their property to protect that valuable sunlight. Unfortunately, West Virginia has yet to pass any rules around the right to sunlight, so be sure to talk to your neighbors about your solar plans beforehand!

#4 West Virginia Solar Incentives, Rebates, and Tax Credits 

West Virginians are only eligible for the federal tax credit to lower the total investment to go solar.

Federal Tax Credit

While the state of WV and local utilities don’t offer any tax credits themselves, all WV homeowners can take advantage of the Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit, also known as the Investment Tax Credit or ITC.

This tax credit is just that, a credit (as opposed to a tax deduction), and as such decreases your owed taxes dollar-for-dollar (as opposed to decreasing your taxable income). Equal to 30% of the total installation cost, the credit would knock $5,295 off the $17,650 total installation cost for the 5kW system described above. Needless to say, that’s a pretty sweet deal!

However, there are a couple of important facts to know. First off, this is a non-refundable tax credit, so the feds aren’t going to cut you any checks if your taxes goes below zero. However, if your owed taxes aren’t high enough to claim the entire credit in the first year, you can break it down into chunks and claim it over multiple years.

Secondly, the full 30% credit is set to expire in 2019. In 2020, the credit will drop to 26%, then 22% in 2021, after which it will completely phase out. If you’re dilly-dallying about installing solar, you better get on it before this credit expires!

More: Solar Federal Tax Credit

West Virginia Tax Credits/Rebates

While the state of West Virginia briefly offered a 30% income tax credit for solar systems installed between 2009 and 2013, they currently offer no such benefits.

Property Tax Exemption

As an added bonus to encourage local homeowners to install solar, some states allow homeowners to exempt the additional value solar adds to property when calculating property taxes. While this usually equates to only a few hundred dollars, every little bit certainly helps! Unfortunately, West Virginia does not offer this incentive as of this time.

Sales Tax Exemption

Similar to the property tax exemption above, some states also exempt solar equipment costs from sales tax. Depending on the tax rate and installation size, this can save homeowners hundreds of dollars and chop a year or more off the payback period. Again, unfortunately West Virginia does not offer this benefit to solar homeowners.

General Increase in Home Value

We’ve mentioned solar installations adding value to homes several times now, so let’s finally dig in to this. The Lawrence Berkeley National Lab published a 2015 study of home values across 8 states (not WV) over the previous 14 years and found that homes with solar owned by the homeowner (financed via cash or loan) sell for an average of $4/watt more than homes without. Newer solar installations command more and older installations less.

While the study doesn’t provide any data on West Virginia specifically, a solar installation adds an asset to your home that provides real savings. It might not add as much value as in areas like California, where utility rates are sky high, but it will increase your home’s resale value. Even at just half the rate the LBNL study found ($2/watt), you’re looking at $10k for the mid-sized installation above, allowing you to potentially recoup your initial investment.

Of course, before you make any decisions, be sure to talk to a few local installers and/or realtors to get the scoop on your own area.

More: Buyers Will Pay More for Solar Homes

If you’d like to dig even more on local incentives and rebates, check out the DSIRE database.

#5 Charleston Solar Information

If you live in the Charleston area, you might be wondering if there’s anything special you need to know when going solar. Occasionally, cities pass their own legislation to encourage or protect homeowners and businesses going solar with solar easements, tax breaks, or special permit regulations (fast track building permits for solar installations, for example).

Well, you don’t need to think about any of that. Installing solar in the Charleston area is just like installing solar in any other part of the state: you’re still eligible for the federal tax credit, and you’ll need to calculate your savings and payback period carefully just like anywhere else.

What to Do Next?

west virginia solar

Installing solar in West Virginia can be a rewarding financial experience, but no matter what, expect a long turnaround time on your investment. If you decide to finance with a loan, you’ll lower your savings and increase your payback time, but you can still save thousands, decrease your carbon footprint, and contribute to your own energy independence – all with putting little to no money down.

Have any questions about going solar in West Virginia that we didn’t answer above? Ask us in the comments below!

Photo Credit under CC License via Flicker – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Wyoming Solar – Everything You Need to Know

wyoming solar

Information about Solar Panels in Wyoming

Its reputation as the Cowboy State might have something to do with the current "Wild West" status of the Wyoming solar industry, as there's not much in the way of endorsement or regulation from the state government. More likely than that is the fact that the state's primary industries revolve around mining fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas.

​In other words, local utilities have a plentiful source of cheap raw materials to work with right now, which means they don't have much incentive to look for renewable sources of energy. However, if ​the state's population​ adopts a bit of foresight and sees the long-term benefits of renewable resources, that could change​.

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Nebraska Solar – Everything You Need to Know!

Nebraska Solar

Information about Solar Panels in ​Nebraska

Nebraska and its Cornhuskers might geographically be in the middle of the country, but the state's solar policies and the political climate around renewable resources put it near the bottom of our list of pro-solar states.

Despite a lack of financial incentives though, Nebraska solar can still be financially profitable. At the same time you'll be helping the environment and reducing our dependency on fossil fuels!

We've run the numbers and researched what incentives are available (such as they are), the tax rebates you'll qualify for, and what policies Nebraska has in place -- as well as the many areas the state can improve -- if you're interested in going solar in Nebraska.

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Maine Solar – Everything You Need to Know

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Information about Solar Panels in Maine

Maine is the most northeastern state in the continental U.S, and ​is a bit of an outlier when it comes to solar. ​However, for those living in ​there, Maine solar ​is still a great deal ​worthy of consideration. 

Despite an aggressive renewable portfolio standard on paper, there is almost nothing in the way of incentives for residents outside of the federal tax credit.

Read on to discover how much profit you stand to make with Maine solar, and ​whether or not it makes sense for you ​in your current situation!

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Montana Solar – Everything You Need to Know

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Information about Solar Panels in Montana

Residents of Big Sky Country often find themselves looking up at the beautiful night sky, but it turns out that the daytime sky is quite impressive for a different reason! Montana Solar may not be catching a lot of traction yet, but its flexibility in rural areas, coupled with a substantial return on investment, ​indicates that this form of energy could be an excellent choice for interested residents.

We'll take a look at just how much profit you could make in Montana and discuss all of the ins and outs of purchasing, local policies, and potential incentives. Let's see what we have to work with here!

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Dallas Solar – Everything You Need to Know

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Information about Solar Panels in Dallas, Texas

Texas’ electricity infrastructure is quite an anomaly when compared to most states. Instead of one electricity company both generating the electricity and maintaining the equipment to get it to you (poles, wires, transformers, etc), Texas is a deregulated market.

As such, Texas residents can purchase electricity from any electricity generation company they choose, though one company (Oncor in Dallas) is responsible for maintaining the local electricity grid.

Deregulation was meant to lower electricity prices for customers by introducing competition into an industry that has historically been dominated by quasi-monopolies regulated by the state.

In Dallas, you can choose from dozens of electricity providers. Some provide the cheapest electricity possible, while others are more expensive but offer incentives or bonus programs. Some even sell 100% clean energy (Green Mountain Energy, for example).

All this is great, but what if you want to produce your own electricity by installing solar? In this unique market, what kind of return could you see and how much would it cost? Does Dallas or its utilities offer any special incentives for going solar?

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Alaska Solar – Everything You Need to Know

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Information about Solar Panels in Alaska

Alaska might be "The Last Frontier" but it is definitely possible to tame the sunlight that pours into this state in the name of solar energy! Despite the seasonal weirdness with daylight hours, relatively low energy needs and high energy prices provide a decent environment for Alaska solar.

Sure, the local oil and gas industries won't be too fond of a movement in renewable energy, but what is better than saving the planet while living right next door to fossil fuel producers?

Read on to find out how you can make a profit by helping the environment in Alaska!

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Wisconsin Solar – Everything You Need to Know

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Information about Solar Panels in Wisconsin

America's Dairyland might be known for its cows, cheese, and snow, but it is also a very nice place to be if you are interested in going solar! Wisconsin solar is very viable, thanks to rebates, credits, and other benefits.

Despite those long winters, relatively small energy needs coupled with excellent rebates and tax credits mean that you can pay off a system fast and start enjoying the benefits of solar very quickly. Depending on where you live, you might also get some benefits from your local utility.

Read on to see how you can make money by helping the environment in Wisconsin!

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Virginia Solar – Everything You Need to Know

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Information about Solar Panels in Virginia

Despite having some terrible gaps in their overall solar policy, installing solar in Virginia is still quite a lucrative investment thanks to the state’s decent net metering policy and sunny southern skies.

Saving over $15k by going solar in Virginia isn’t difficult, but of course, you need to do your homework first. What incentives are available? What do you need to connect your system to the grid? How much can you save?

We’re here to help with all these questions! Below, you’ll find all the information you need to make an informed decision on Virginia solar: savings estimates, info on solar policy, and a rundown of all incentives available to Virginia homeowners going solar.

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