Category Archives: Incentives

USDA Seeks Applications for Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency Loans and Grants

Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett seeks applications for loan guarantees and grants for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvement projects.

The deadlines to apply for grants are Oct. 31, 2018, and April 1, 2019. Applications for loan guarantees are accepted year-round.

REAP helps agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce energy costs and consumption by purchasing and installing renewable energy systems and making energy efficiency improvements in their operations. Read the entire release here.

Who may apply?
Small businesses in eligible rural areas and agricultural producers, both rural and non-rural, who have at least 50% of their gross income coming from agricultural operations, may apply.

REAP grants provide up to 25% of the total project costs, and a grant and loan combination up to 75%. Eligible projects include renewable energy systems and the purchase, installation and construction of energy efficiency improvements.

See REAP Fact Sheet for a complete list of eligible projects.
Nebraska REAP Program

Contact: Jeff Carpenter, Nebraska Rural Development Energy Coordinator
Telephone: 402-437-5554
Email: 
Jeff.Carpenter@ne.usda.gov

INCENTIVES

Federal Investment Tax Credit for solar systems and small wind turbines: 30% through 2018 and 2019. Small wind: 100 kilowatts or less. Source: Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE)

Lincoln Electric System’s Solar Incentive
LES offers customers a one-time capacity payment of up to $1,000 per kilowatt of peak demand reduced. The total amount customers can receive is determined by the primary direction the system is facing, for example:

  • Southern facing fixed-photovoltaic solar – the unit’s nameplate DC capacity (kW) x $375.
  • Western facing or single or dualaxis tracking fixed-photovoltaic solar – the unit’s nameplate DC capacity (kW) x $475.
    Source: Customer-owned Renewable Generation

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Business Equipment Depreciation Resources

SMALL & COMMUNITY WIND INFORMATION
American Wind Energy Association / Distributed Wind Energy Association

What is Distributed Wind Energy?
Distributed wind energy systems offer reliable electricity generation in a wide variety of global settings, including households, schools, farms and ranches, businesses, towns, communities and remote locations. Projects range for example from a 1-kilowatt (kW) or smaller off-grid wind turbine at a remote cabin or cell phone tower – to a 10-kW wind turbine at a home, small business, or small agricultural load – to several multi-megawatt (MW) wind turbines at a university campus, manufacturing facility or any large energy user.

What is Small Wind Energy?
Small wind is defined as wind turbines with a capacity rating of less than or equal to 100 kW. Turbines in this category range in size from smaller than 1 kW for off-grid applications to 100-kW turbines that can provide village power. Fifty-four small turbine models are offered commercially in the United States for applications including homes, schools, commercial and industrial facilities, telecommunications, farms and ranches, and communities.

DWEA (Distributed Wind Energy Association

DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY RESOURCES

  • Small Wind Guidebook, WINDExchange, Department of Energy
  • Distributed Wind Case Studies
    The Distributed Wind Installers’ Collaborative, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, has produced a series of case studies showcasing the many facets and opportunities within the distributed wind industry. The first published case studies feature projects located on a dairy farm, at a net zero home, a recycling facility and a rural cooperative.

IRS Issues Favorable Tax Credit Guidance for New Solar Projects

By Julia Pyper, Greentech Media

The new guidance provides two methods for determining a “commence construction” date.

The Internal Revenue Service released a new guidance Friday that establishes when the construction of a solar facility starts to qualify for the solar Investment Tax Credit. The guidance, Notice 2018-59, provides two methods for determining the “commence-construction” date: 1) starting physical work of a significant nature or 2) meeting the “5 percent safe harbor test” by incurring 5 percent or more of the total cost of the facility in the year that construction begins. Both residential and commercial solar projects may qualify for the full 30 percent Investment Tax Credit (ITC) through 2019, as long as the project is placed into service before 2024. A prior ruling required completion in the same year. Continue reading here

RELATED READING

Viewpoint: Solar energy preserves farmlands and boosts economic growth

By Gary Haynes, Lansing State Journal

Gary Haynes is a fifth generation Michigan farmer with fields in three counties, including Eaton County, which is considering whether solar panels will be allowed on farmland.

My family has farmed for five generations in mid-Michigan. Today I grow corn, wheat and soybeans in Eaton, Ingham and Jackson Counties. Like anyone in agriculture, I believe farmland should be preserved for the future and that we should do all we can to protect our air, land and water for future generations. In addition, we should seek opportunities to bring new jobs and new investment to rural communities throughout Michigan. Solar energy is one way to fulfill all of those goals. Right now, Eaton County is considering whether solar panels will be allowed on farmland in the county, and for multiple reasons, this is simply the right thing to do. First, solar energy and farmland preservation go hand in hand. Click here to continue reading.

Photo by Rob Davis, Fresh Energy

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

More Than 5,000 US Schools Have Solar Power Installations

Final Version of Tax Bill Keeps ITC Intact, Allowing for Strong Solar Growth to Continue

Solar Energy Industries Association Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – [Friday], following aggressive advocacy efforts by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) to ensure the continued growth of the U.S. solar industry, Congress reached an agreement on comprehensive tax reform legislation. Following is a statement from Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA’s president and CEO:

“After weeks of negotiations, the final tax legislation released today maintains the solar Investment Tax Credits (ITC) for both commercial developers and for homeowners in its current form. This is a great victory for the solar industry and its 260,000 American workers and we commend our bipartisan solar champions in Congress for their diligent efforts to maintain solar’s critical role in America’s economy.

“As an industry, we are pleased that the final version of tax reform legislation protects the Investment Tax Credit, and we look forward to continuing to deliver on our promise of affordable, reliable American energy.”

Press Release.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
U.S. renewable energy industry relieved as Republicans keep tax credits, Reuters
The final tax bill retains the production and investment tax credits for wind and solar energy that have spurred investment in the fast-growth industries. It also eliminates the alternative minimum tax, which would have reduced the value of those credits.

Madison solar firms picked for group buy program

By Bill Novak, Wisconsin State Journal

A sample system shown on Midwest Solar Power’s website would cost $13,000, but that would be cut almost in half through federal tax credits, rebates and the group buy. The group purchase program is run by the non-profit RENEW Wisconsin Inc. on behalf of the city of Madison with support from Middleton. Read the entire article here.

Photo Credit: RENEW Wisconsin

RESOURCES FOR NEBRASKA COMMUNITIES CONSIDERING SOLAR GROUP BUYING

Listen Up: Getting Your Solar Investment Tax Credit

By The Energy Show on Renewable Energy World

It only takes a few minutes to fill out the IRS “Residential Energy Credits” Form 5695. For documentation, all you need are copies of all the invoices that apply to the installation of your home solar system. For more about getting your 2016 solar investment tax credit, Listen Up to the Energy Show on Renewable Energy World.

More Energy Shows on Renewable Energy World

How much does a solar electric system cost in Nebraska?

  • Residential Rooftop Systems – Size Range: 3-10 kilowatts (kW)
    Typical Cost = $3.00 – $3.50 / installed watt
  • Commercial rooftop systems: 10 kilowatts to 2 megawatts have a separate price range.
  • These estimates are for installations not using the “Plug & Play” ConnectDER, which saves labor and time.  

Cost estimates for 3-5 kilowatt systems. 

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. Check Van Meter’s website for information about their workshops: www.vanmeter.com
  • 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

Media Release: 100kW solar panel system in Lincoln complete

LINCOLN, Neb. – GRNE Solutions, a Midwest-based renewable energy provider, announced it has completed one of the largest privately owned commercial solar panel systems in the Lincoln, Nebraska area. GRNE and its partner, landowner JAX Properties, will sell electricity produced by the system back to the local electric company. Located at 1900 Saltillo Rd., the new system is the latest development in an advancing solar scene in the Lincoln area. The company has created a new division to administer its solar energy resources: GRNE Solar. In 2016, the company installed roughly 340kW of renewable energy across Lincoln and the Midwest. The systems varied in size from 5kW residential systems to the new 100kW commercial system. Read the entire release here.

About GRNE Solutions
GRNE Solutions provides renewable energy for homes, commercial buildings and utilities through the use of photovoltaics and other renewable sources, including passive methods. GRNE’s patented Energy Column is a renewable energy system for generating self-sustaining electricity.

 ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

LINCOLN’S CUSTOMER-OWNED GENERATION 
The latest GRNE Solar project stands out, in part, because although residential and community solar projects are significantly increasing in number throughout the state, especially in the last several months, there are only a few commercial solar projects developed, so far.

One contributing factor to the “advancing solar scene in the Lincoln area” in all sectors of the industry is Lincoln Electric System’s solar-friendly policy of providing installers and customers streamlined and time saving application processes and forms. There are two separate applications: one for projects up to 25 kilowatts and less and another for projects up to 100 kilowatts. Lincoln Electric System pays the full retail rate for excess power sent back to the grid. LES also offers the following incentives for solar photovoltaic installations to the commercial, industrial, residential, and federal government sectors:

Southern-facing fixed solar: $375/kW-DC of the solar system’s nameplate capacity
Western-facing fixed solar: $475/kW-DC of nameplate capacity
Single or dual tracking solar: $475/kW-DC of nameplate capacity

For example: Lincoln Electric System provided Dual Dynamics an incentive for the company’s south-facing system in the amount of $9,300 ($375 x 24.8kW) as a capacity payment, as soon as the project was commissioned. (See Solar Examples).

Resource listing all Nebraska programs and incentives
Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE)

Minnesota’s Commerce Department Launches Latest Round of Solar Incentives

Posted by Joseph Bebon, Solar Industry Magazine


“The Made in Minnesota program is helping drive growth in the state’s rooftop solar market,” says Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman in a press release. “The program is boosting Minnesota’s clean energy economy by making solar more affordable, creating more clean energy jobs and diversifying the state’s energy resources.” Continue reading.

More information about the ten-year program, which Minnesota’s legislature established in 2013 to expand the state’s solar industry, is available here.

Rural and rust belt America: wind power is ready to help

Written by Greg Alvarez, American Wind Energy Association Blog, Into the Wind

greg-alvarez
Wind farms increase local tax revenue, providing small-town America with resources to fix roads, build hospitals, and buy new emergency equipment. It’s been a huge boon for local schools . . . Wind power is now cost-competitive in many areas of the country with all other sources of electricity, saving consumers money on their electric bills and hedging against rising prices for fuel. All forms of energy have incentives, most of them permanent in the tax code.

 

 
The federal incentive for wind power is already being phased out starting on Jan. 1, having succeeded in creating a new low-cost solution for America’s power needs.

Read more here.