Category Archives: Financing

Nebraska cities, state lawmakers express growing interest in PACE financing

Written by Karen Uhlenhuth, Midwest Energy News

An ordinance to create the infrastructure for a PACE district — which provides a long-term financing option for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects — is likely to be introduced in the state’s largest city by mid-April. “This seems like a great tool,” said Omaha City Council member Aimee Melton, who has been working for months on developing a PACE program for her hometown. “I believe the council will be supportive.” Several other
cities — including Lincoln, Grand Island and the Omaha suburbs of Papillion, Bellevue and La Vista — also have expressed interest in joining the PACE movement, according to Chris Peterson, a managing partner with PACE SAGE, a loan originator and PACE lender based in Kansas City. Read more here.

Photo by Pat Hawks / Creative Commons: The Omaha City Council is expected next month to consider establishing a Property Assessed Clean Energy financing district. 

MORE NEBRASKA NEWS STORIES BY KAREN UHLENHUTH

Energy storage is America’s industry to lose

By David Ferris, First in a series, E&E News

Julie Blunden is a former solar executive who now focuses her analytical ability on energy storage. When she sits down with an iced tea to run the numbers, they fill her with a sense of urgency. She sees a market that is strapping on its boots for a steep and inexorable climb. Blunden and a growing number of experts believe that energy storage will be worth tens of billions of dollars in revenue within a decade, regardless of what the Trump administration does to harm or help. Batteries will start showing up everywhere, sending shock waves through the auto industry, the electric grid, the petroleum industry and the broader power sector, adding tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs to the economy. Read more here.

Photos included in the article: In the next decade, the energy storage industry will go from the familiar, like the iPhone, into much bigger applications like electric cars and the power grid. Credit: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Pixabay, Dave Dugdale/Flickr (Tesla).

ADDITIONAL ENERGY STORAGE NEWS

FINANCING NEWS

MIDWEST CLEAN ENERGY NEWS

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

Looking at all angles of solar energy

By Emily Hemphill, Seward County Independent

F. John Hay of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln spoke to Seward-area farmers, ranchers and others interested in solar energy Feb. 17 in the Jones National Bank and Trust Co. lower level auditorium. Hay works as an Extension educator in bioengineering and has spent the past 10 years educating people about wind and solar energy on large and small scales. Hay installed a solar photovoltaic system at his home over the winter and spoke to attendees about the installation process and weighing the benefits of a solar energy system.
Read more here.

In her article, Emily Hemphill references: 

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Top Photo Courtesy of GC Resolve: Family Farm in Minden, Nebraska. The 21-kilowatt solar system provides most of the farm’s energy needs. The project was partly funded by a USDA Rural Energy for America (REAP) grant, which covered 25% of its cost. Additional financing was obtained through the Nebraska Energy Office’s low-interest loan program for solar installations.

Two initiatives could empower more households to go solar

By Dale White, Herald-Tribune

The League of Women Voters of Florida is partnering with Florida Solar United Neighborhoods to encourage residents to band together and form solar cooperatives. Members use their group buying power to get panels installed at a discounted price. They do not have to reside in the same neighborhood . . . Mike Antheil, executive director of the Florida Solar Energy Industries Association and the Florida Alliance for Renewable Energy, encourages residents in the Sarasota-Manatee area to tell their county commissioners to take advantage of what is called PACE (“property assessed clean energy”). Read more here. 

Photo: Mary Dipboye of Florida Solar United Neighborhoods explains Monday how Floridians can form cooperatives to reduce the cost of installing solar panels. Credit: Herald-Tribune / Dale White

GROUP BUYING RESOURCES

PACE RESOURCES

USDA Seeks Grant Applications for up to $500,000 for Sustainable Energy Projects

Photo Credit: Guy Parker

The USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) is accepting applications from agricultural producers and rural small businesses for renewable energy installations and energy efficiency upgrades until March 31, 2017. REAP grants cover 25% of a project’s cost. Congress created the REAP program in the 2002 Farm Bill and reauthorized it in the 2014 Farm Bill, with guaranteed funding of no less than $50 million annually for the duration of the five-year bill. Click here for additional details on guidelines, including all eligible applicants and projects.

To read about all Nebraska programs and incentives, link to: Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) – Nebraska

Report Release: Financing Community-Scale Solar

Authors: Kieran Coleman, Thomas Koch Blank, Curtis Probst, and Jeff Waller, Rocky Mountain Institute

Effective financing approaches have been fundamental to the solar industry’s exponential growth over the past 15 years. The first solar power purchase agreement (PPA) in the early 2000s enabled customers to spread their upfront costs for solar over time, just as home mortgages do. Starting in 2005, federal tax credits for renewables helped to reduce overall costs and encouraged new investors to enter the market. These and other innovations spurred the commercialization of residential and utility-scale solar photovoltaics (PV) in the U.S. by transforming a once-marginal energy asset into a product that households, companies, and local governments can more easily access. Read the entire news release.

Download Financing Community-Scale Solar here.

Model for Nebraska? Colorado School District First to Offset 100% Energy Use with Community Solar

Posted by Solar Novus Today
Despite being the largest geographical school district in Colorado, with preschools, elementary, middle, and high schools serving 9,650 students, plus three transportation centers and an administrative building, D70 was able to consolidate its commitment into one community solar subscription, through [Clean Energy Collective’s] Roofless Solar program, with no upfront payment or recurring operations and maintenance costs and no changes to existing facilities . . . Participants subscribe to a portion of a shared array, which is optimally sited and engineered for maximum power production, and then receive credit for the power production directly on their monthly utility bills. Continue reading.

INFORMATION LINKS
Clean Energy Collective (CEC)
CEC’s Community Solar Platform

CESA’s Sustainable Solar Education Project Releases New Guide on Solar Loan Programs

States and municipalities can play an important role in spurring local lending for residential rooftop PV installations. To help inform state and municipal officials about best practices and the various approaches to opening up the lending marketplace for residential solar, the Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA) has published a guide titled Publicly Supported Solar Loan Programs: A Guide for States and Municipalities. The guide, authored by Travis Lowder of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), describes general factors state and municipal governments should consider when assessing whether to launch a public solar loan program, explains various loan program design elements, and offers several case studies.

In a webinar on Thursday, January 12, from 12 to 1 p.m. CST,  Travis Lowder will provide an overview of the new program guide. There will be time to address questions from the audience. This webinar is free but registration is required. Register here.

With solar energy costs declining, more opportunity for farms and residences

By Kerry Hoffschneider, Correspondent, York News-Times

[F. John Hay, a University of Nebraska Extension educator in the realm of energy] spoke to approximately 80 Nebraska farmers, businesspeople and everyday citizens from all walks of life about the potential for solar energy production on the residential and farm/ranch level, especially the most common approach to harnessing the sun’s energy – a grid-tied solar photovoltaic system . . . So what’s the cost? That’s what most farmers and ranchers and nearly every consumer wants to better understand. That’s why Hay has compiled an in-depth report entitled: Solar Electric Investment Analysis, that begins to do just that.  Read more.

Download Solar Electric Investment Analysis (PDF), Nebraska Extension Publication 

F. John Hay’s contact information: 402-472-0408 or jhay2@unl.edu.