Category Archives: Incentives

10 agricultural improvements in new tax reform bill

By John Vogel, American Agriculturalist

Congress delivered the historic 560-plus-page Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and President Donald Trump signed it into law on the Friday before Christmas. The changes will affect 2018 taxes, not those for 2017. Here are a few details offered by American Farm Bureau Federation of what’s wrapped up inside it for agriculture: Click here to continue reading.

Photo by Vernon Rural Electric Cooperative in Wisconsin


The new tax reform bill:

  • (#5 in the article – Bonus Depreciation): Beginning for the 2018 tax year, businesses will be allowed to immediately and fully deduct the costs of equipment purchased after September 27, 2017 and before January 1, 2023. After that the percentage of costs that can be immediately deducted will be gradually phased down. Prior tax law required businesses to write off equipment costs over several years.
  • Preserves the production and investment tax credits for solar and wind energy.
  • Retains (up to) $7,500 electric vehicle tax credit.

Production Tax Credit for Wind & Solar
The production tax credit provides an incentive to wind and solar developers. The vast majority of wind turbines and solar farms are built in rural areas. Farmers and ranchers can earn extra income by leasing land to developers.
Source: Renewable Electricity Production Tax Credit, Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency

Renewable Energy Investment Tax Credits
The credits apply to residential and commercial projects. If you don’t have sufficient tax liability in the current year, you can “roll over” the credit to future years.

  • 30% to December 31, 2019
  • 26% to December 31, 2020
  • 22% to December 31, 2021
  • 10% commercial credit 2022 onwards

Source: Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency

Lincoln Electric System Offers Customers an Additional Incentive Called “Capacity Payments” for solar installations up to 100 kilowatts:

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

Source: Lincoln Electric System – Renewable Energy Rebate, Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency

FAQ: Does a storage battery qualify for the 30% Federal Investment Tax Credit?
: On their own, batteries don’t qualify for federal tax credits. But if a storage unit is charged at least 75 percent by solar, it can qualify for at least part of a U.S. subsidy enjoyed by those projects – the investment tax credit, according to David Burton, a New York-based partner at Mayer Brown LLP. Source: Battery Storage Still Needs Solar for Growth.

SEE ALSO: House Bill Would Extend the ITC to Standalone Energy Storage Systems
The bill, called the Energy Storage Tax Incentive and Deployment Act of 2017 (H.R. 4649) would extend the ITC to energy storage systems with a capacity of at least 5 kilowatt-hours.  The legislation is a companion to an identical bill introduced in the U.S. Senate earlier this year
(S. 1868). The Act is modeled on the existing ITC for solar energy, which enables the owner of a solar energy system to receive a tax credit equal to thirty percent (30%) of the cost of the system.

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.

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


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:
Nebraska USDA Rural Development Website:

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: Website:

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.


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
  • 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:
  • 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.


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

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.


Solar Energy Incentives

Hammond Farm.1

The Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) is the most comprehensive source of information on incentives and policies that support renewable energy and energy efficiency in the United States. Established in 1995, DSIRE is operated by the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center at North Carolina State University and is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

For Nebraska, DSIRE lists 45 policy, financial incentive and grant programs, including the following for solar energy and other renewables: 

Source: DSIRE – Nebraska

Photo: 25-kilowatt photovoltaic system powers the Hammond farm operation west of Benedict. The project estimate was $84,864; however, a USDA grant and federal tax credits reduced the cost to only $19,100, with a payback of just over 6 years, after which the farm will benefit from free energy. Solar panels typically last 25 or more years. Credit: Matt Ryerson / Lincoln Journal Star
News Story: Farms flexing solar power, by Nicholas Bergin, Lincoln Journal Star