Nebraska Energy Office’s Low-Interest Loans Available for Solar Installations

Who: Nebraskans are now able to secure low-interest bank financing for solar installations. These loans are backed by the Energy Office of the State of Nebraska and are available to legal residents of the state, a Nebraska taxpayer, a Nebraska partnership, a Nebraska-chartered corporation, a subdivision of Nebraska government, or a person who has maintained a permanent residence and lived in the state for more than six months.

Loan limits: For solar hot water installations, $14,000; for photovoltaic (solar electric) installations the limit is $14,000 for the first kilowatt (kW) of electric-generating capacity and $4,000 for each additional kW of capacity, on systems that are 10 kW or smaller in total capacity, a limit sufficient to cover all residential and many small business installations. So for a 4-kW residential installation, the loan limit would be $26,000 ($14,000 for the first kW + $12,000 for the next 3 kW). The loan limit in this example is way more than would be needed for a 4-kW installation in Nebraska currently; current costs would approximate $3.50 per installed watt or $14,000 total for a 4-kW installation (4000 watts x $3.50). This cost is before a 30% federal tax credit is applied. These credits expire December 31, 2016 and may or may not be renewed. At least one Nebraska public utility, Lincoln Electric Systems, has further financial incentives for photovoltaic installations.

How: You would need to get bids or quotes first, so that you would have them available for your lender, a Nebraska bank or credit union. Make sure the solar contractor/installer providing the bid or quote breaks down all costs as specified on the application you submit to the Nebraska Energy Office. These itemized costs must include all equipment, labor, and other costs necessary to install solar electric or solar hot water systems per the manufacturer’s instructions for optimum operability and output. All installations must meet local, state, and federal codes and regulations—cost may include obtaining a city permit and inspection, for example. Although you are only required to get one bid under the Energy Office program, it is generally a good idea to seek more than one quote in a making your purchasing decision.   It is also the case that the bank or credit union you approach may well require more than one bid or quote,so be sure to check with them.

For more information, contact the Nebraska Energy Office by mail, P.O. Box 95085, Lincoln, NE 68509-5085, by phone: (402) 471-2867, or by e-mail: energy@nebraska.gov .   An application may be downloaded at: http://www.neo.ne.gov/loan/pdf/form20.pdf   .