The Costs of Rooftop Solar in Nebraska Just Keep Declining – And Lincoln is Leading the Way!

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) infographic, below, “By 2017, more than half the states could have rooftop solar that’s as cheap as local electricity prices.”

The following factors are helping to bring about this transformation: The prices for rooftop photovoltaic (PV) systems have dropped precipitously over the last several years, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. The federal tax credit reduces its price by another 30%, in effect until December 31, 2016.

Lincoln Electric System (LES) provides additional incentives, as described in the PDF, “Customer-owned Renewable Generation.” (PDF link, below). The total payment customers can receive is determined as follows:

• Southern-facing, fixed-photovoltaic panels – $375 for each kilowatt of the system’s nameplate DC capacity. For a 4-kW system (sixteen 250-watt panels), for example, the customer receives a capacity payment of $1,500.

• Western-facing or single or dual-axis tracking photovoltaic solar – the unit’s nameplate DC capacity (kW) x $475, or $1,900 for a 4 kW system.

Price of a 4-kW PV system (sixteen 250-watt panels) in Lincoln with incentives:

Solar system and labor @ $3.50/watt* (4000 watts) = $14,000
Federal Tax Credit – 30% ($4,200)
LES Capacity Payment $375 x 4 kW ($1,500)

Total price after incentives are subtracted = $8,300

Western-facing solar modules would provide customers a capacity payment of $1900, reducing the price to $7,900.

Based on an average household use of 1000 kilowatt hours (KWH) per month, this 4kW system will provide about 52% of the house’s energy. Check your electricity bills to find out how many kilowatt hours your household uses each month.

The price for a 2-kW PV system (eight 250-watt panels) in Lincoln, with incentives is $4150, which will provide 25% of an average household’s energy needs. For a western-facing system the cost = $3950. In Omaha, while the 30% federal tax credit lasts, a homeowner can have a 4-kW PV system installed for $9800 and a 2-kW system for $4900.

* A typical cost for a photovoltaic (PV) system in Nebraska is currently $3.50 per installed watt. According to the most recent data in the September 2014 report by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Tracking the Sun VII, the median installed price of PV installations in the United States is $4.40 per watt.

Solar development in our state would very likely accelerate, benefitting our local economies, if OPPD and NPPD would provide their customer-owners the same incentives as Lincoln Electric System currently offers.

The biggest incentive of all, the 30% federal tax credit, is available to everyone until the end of 2016. Even without capacity payments, when the upfront costs of solar PV systems currently being installed in Omaha and other Nebraska communities are averaged out over the 25 to 30+ year lifespan of the modules, rooftop PV looks like a cost-effective investment, especially after figuring in the 30% federal tax incentive.

Customer-owned Renewable Generation
Nebraska Incentives/Policies for Solar