How much does a solar electric system cost in Nebraska?

Nebraska installers typically charge $3.50 an installed watt for a solar electric system, also called photovoltaic (PV) system. Installers may provide a price break for larger systems and charge slightly more for smaller systems, but this cost estimate is a good, general “rule of thumb.”

At $3.50 per installed watt, the costs of three sizes of PV systems, before rebates & other incentives are subtracted, are:
3-kilowatt PV system: 3000 watts x $3.50 = $10,500
4-kilowatt PV system: 4000 watts  x $3.50 = $!4,000
5-kilowatt PV system: 5000 watts x $3.50 = $17,500

The cost of a system after subtracting theFederal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) of 30%
3-kilowatt PV system: $10,500 – $3150 = $7,350
4-kilowatt PV system:   $!4,000 – $4,200 = $9,800
5-kilowatt PV system: $17,500 – $5,250 = $12,250

Additional Solar Energy Incentives Offered by LES

Lincoln Electric System (LES) provides additional customer incentives based on the solar system’s energy-generating capacity, as described in the PDF, “Customer-owned Renewable Generation.” These LES customer rebates are called “capacity payments” and are determined as follows:

South-facing, fixed-PV systems: $375 for each kilowatt of the system’s nameplate DC capacity. The savings in the following examples would be:
3-kilowatt PV system: $1,125
4-kilowatt PV system: $1,500
5-kilowatt PV system: $1,875

The costs after both the federal Investment Tax Credit + LES capacity payments are subtracted:
3-kilowatt PV system: $6,225
4-kilowatt PV system: $8,300
5-kilowatt PV system: $10,375

West-facing or single or dual-axis tracking PV system: $475 for each kilowatt of the system’s nameplate DC capacity.
3-kilowatt PV system: $1,425
4-kilowatt PV system: $1,900
5-kilowatt PV system: $2,375

The total cost to the buyer after both the federal Investment Tax Credit + LES capacity payments, above, are subtracted:
3-kilowatt PV system: $5,925
4-kilowatt PV system: $7,900
5-kilowatt PV system: $9,875

Two Additional Incentives for Installing a PV System

  • Accelerated Depreciation for Businesses
  • Self-Employment Tax Credit

REAP Grants for Nebraska Farms & Rural Small Businesses

Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grants, available to qualified Nebraska farms and rural small businesses, provide an additional 25% of the cost of a solar electric system.

The costs of installing a PV system after the 30% federal Investment Tax Incentive and a REAP grant of 25% are subtracted:
3-kilowatt PV system: $4,725
4-kilowatt PV system: $6,300
5-kilowatt PV system: $7,875

For more information about REAP grants, contact Jeff Carpenter, State Energy Coordinator at the Nebraska USDA Rural Development State Office, Suite 308, Federal Building, 100 Centennial Mall North, Lincoln, Nebraska 68508.
Telephone: 402-437-5554 / Email: carpenter@ne.usda.gov
Nebraska USDA Rural Development Website: http://www.rd.usda.gov/ne

The Nebraska Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has established an energy-auditing program to assist agricultural producers and rural small businesses in evaluating the energy efficiency of their operations and the potential for incorporating renewable energy into them. An energy audit is required for the REAP grant application. MEP will pay 75% of its cost for qualified applicants. Contact: Matthew Jorgensen, Project Specialist, Nebraska Manufacturing Extension Partnership Telephone: 308-293-5884 or Email: mjorgensen@unl.edu. Website: http://nemep.unl.edu/

The Incentive to Conserve Energy
The average household uses about 1000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity each month. Check your electric bills over the past 12 months to find out how many kilowatt-hours your home or business is currently consuming. Conserving energy saves money and, of course, reduces the size solar system you will need.  Nebraskans for Solar board member Eric Williams’ 3-kilowatt system, shown above, produces about 50% of the electricity used by his energy-efficient home and electric car. The solar panels are warranted by the manufacturer to last for 25 years.

Additional Resources

Off Grid Solar, by Joseph P. O’Connor

This is an excellent guide written with do-it-yourselfers in mind. The author, Joseph O’Connor, is a solar manufacturing entrepreneur as well as a consultant, speaker, and prolific writer on solar energy.

Solar Electricity Handbook – 2017 Edition, by Michael Boxwell

Now in its eleventh edition, this book provides a step-by-step guide on how to successfully design and install a solar energy system from scratch. The website that accompanies the book includes online solar calculators and tools to simplify a solar installation. Michael Boxwell is a leading expert on solar energy, authoring more than twenty books in the field, which he first started working in twenty years ago.

COSTS FOR DO-IT-YOURSELFERS


How much is a solar electric system?

A solar electric or photovoltaic (PV) system typically costs $1 to $1.50 per watt, depending on the brand name. This includes solar panels, inverter and racking.


At $1 to $1.50 per watt, the costs of three sizes of PV systems, before incentives are subtracted, are:

3-kilowatt PV system: $3,000 to $4,500
4-kilowatt PV system $4,000 to $6,000
5-kilowatt PV system $5,000 to $7,500

The cost of each system after subtracting the Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) of 30%
3-kilowatt PV system: $2,100 to $3,150
4-kilowatt PV system:  $2,800 to $4,200
5-kilowatt PV system: $3,500 to $5,250

Additional incentive offered to Lincoln Electric System customers: Capacity Payments (See Above). The cost of each south- or west-facing system after these are subtracted:

South-facing, fixed-PV systems: $375 for each kilowatt of the system’s nameplate DC capacity.
3-kilowatt PV system: $975 to $2,025
4-kilowatt PV system:  $1,300 to $2,700
5-kilowatt PV system: $1,625 to $3,375

West-facing or single or dual-axis tracking PV system: $475 for each kilowatt of the system’s nameplate DC capacity.
3-kilowatt PV system: $675 to $1,725
4-kilowatt PV system:  $900 to $2,300
5-kilowatt PV system: $1,125 to $2,875

Where can you buy solar systems in Nebraska?
Van Meter, an employee-owned electrical supply company in Omaha at 10931 E Circle, sells solar energy equipment. Dixon Power Systems on 3250 N 20th Street in Lincoln and Solar Heat & Electric at 7342 Farnam Street in Omaha also sell everything a do-it-yourselfer needs to install a solar system at his or her home or business.

Two Additional Incentives for Installing a PV System

  • Accelerated Depreciation for Businesses
  • Self-Employment Tax Credit

Solar Permit
There is an additional cost of paying an electrician to obtain the permit to install a solar system on your home or business.

Solar Installation Workshops / Classes in Nebraska – These are announced in our electronic newsletters and posted on our calendar

  • Solar installation classes at local community colleges.
  • John Hay, Professor at UNL’s Biosystems Engineering Department with a focus on energy and Nebraska Extension Educator, teaches solar seminars and installation workshops at Extension Offices across Nebraska, which have been featured on our website and in our newsletters. Subscribe to our newsletter at nebraskansforsolar@gmail.com.
  • Van Meter sponsors solar installation training workshops in partnership with Julie Brazeau and Matt Parks from the Midwest Renewable Energy Association. MREA is the sponsor of the annual Solar Energy Fair in Custer, Wisconsin that’s in its 28th year. Van Meter’s next workshop will be held in Iowa City April 18 – 20. Check the company’s website for more workshops. Click here for details about the Iowa City workshop.
  • Solar do-it-yourselfers, including Eric Williams, Nebraskans for Solar board member, and Don Preister, President of Green Bellevue, are also happy to answer questions from anyone considering going solar. You’ll see them both at Earth Day Omaha and Sarpy County Earth Day events and at solar energy workshops and forums.

Nebraska Community Colleges
Central Community College
Metropolitan Community College
Mid-Plains Community College
Southeast Community College
Western Nebraska Community College