Category Archives: Installation

National guidebook maps the way toward ‘tipping points’ in solar adoption

By Heather Fitzgerald, Yale News

Backed by research out of Yale and Duke, a newly released guidebook details a range of best practices for boosting the adoption of rooftop solar power. Titled “Solarize Your Community,” the national guidebook makes the case for “contagious” rooftop solar. The findings are distilled from a three-year study of successful campaigns in Connecticut that tripled the number of rooftop installations, reduced the average cost of residential solar by 20% to 30%, and created local jobs in participating communities. Continue reading.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Download Solarize Your Community: An Evidence-Based Guide for Accelerating the Adoption of Residential Solar

  • Digital version click HERE
  • Printable version click HERE
  • Printable step-by-step timeline click HERE

Midwest states seek to cut time, costs for solar connections

Written by Karen Uhlenhuth, Midwest Energy News

States across the Midwest are updating their interconnection rules for solar customers, a process likely to cut the time and money required to establish a connection to the grid. In addition, the new standards will equip utilities to efficiently process solar applications as their numbers likely escalate in coming years, according to an attorney who worked on revisions recently approved by the Iowa Utilities Board. Updated and improved interconnection standards are “a critical part of moving distributed generation ahead.. And having clear, fair and efficient interconnection rules is critical to enabling a healthy distributed generation market,” said Sky Stanfield, an attorney who was involved in negotiating the new standards.
Continue reading.

Photo by plien / Creative Commons


In March Green Bellevue presented the workshop, “Solar Powering Your Home,” co-sponsored by the Green Omaha Coalition and Nebraskans for Solar. If you missed it, you can watch it on YouTube here.

Updated Information: Regarding the discussion toward the end of the video about interconnection, OPPD is offering solar installers and code inspectors training on this process. Undoubtedly, this will make it more streamlined and customer-friendly, and OPPD is to be commended for taking this step.

Co-Ops Bring Solar to Hundreds of Rural Communities

By Tina Casey, Triple Pundit: People, Planet, Profit

The U.S. Energy Department pushed out a raft of good news for renewable energy fans this past week. Of particular note is an update on the PV System Toolkit supported by the agency’s SunShot solar initiative. The toolkit focuses on helping rural communities partake in the surging solar market that cities and suburban communities now enjoy. The new PV System Toolkit demonstrates just how deeply the solar industry is now embedded in the civic infrastructure of the US. The effort is helmed by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), which won an Energy Department ‘Sunrise’ award designed to cut costs by developing templates for replicating solar innovations. Read more.


Green Bellevue’s March Program – Solar Powering Your Home: Learn how to install solar panels step-by-step

Presenters: David Holtzclaw and Don Preister

Solar energy is finally getting its day in the sun, and an increasing number of residents are installing solar panels at their homes as a way to lower energy bills and reduce carbon footprints. If you are considering a solar install – or just want to better understand the steps involved – come to Green Bellevue’s March program and hear how it’s done!

David Holtzclaw, Energy Consultant and Owner of Transduction Technologies, will outline the process of installing residential (and small business) solar generators, describing the steps and considerations involved.

Don Preister, Green Bellevue President and Councilman, will then walk through his own experience of installing a home solar system this past year.

The presentation will be followed by a Q&A. Members of Nebraskans for Solar will be in attendance to add to the conversation and serve as resources.

Refreshments will be provided. The public is invited, so please join us and bring a friend. We will meet in Conference Room A at Nebraska Medicine Bellevue, 2500 Bellevue Medical Center Drive. You can park in the visitor parking lot and enter through the main door. Go down the stairs, make a “u-turn” and Conference Room A is down the hall on your left. Share and join this event on Facebook!

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

Telesis going for net-zero energy use in Dairy House complex

Written by Nicholas Bergin, Lincoln Journal Star

Telesis, parent company of Lazlo’s restaurants and Empyrean Brewing Co., among other ventures, is acting now [on climate change]. The privately-owned family business is taking steps to make its Dairy House complex, the former Meadow Gold plant at Seventh and M streets, have a net energy footprint of zero by installing geothermal heating and cooling, efficient lighting and 940 solar panels. And the entire building can be managed from a smartphone. Read more here.

Photo by Gwyneth Roberts, Lincoln Journal Star: Solar panels fill the roof of a former Meadow Gold building at Seventh and M streets. Once the installation is complete, Telesis will produce 85 percent of the energy it uses at the building.

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)

Off Grid Solar

By Joseph P. O’Connor

Off Grid Solar is a pocket guide and quick reference for anyone looking to build a solar system with the free sunshine available to us all. “The limitations to widespread solar are not centered on the cost, the efficiency, or the need for advancements in technology. The limitations are solely due to the lack of widespread knowledge on the subject.”

About the Author

Joe O’Connor is a solar manufacturing entrepreneur as well as a consultant, speaker, and writer on solar energy. He has built off grid solar energy systems in the U.S., Haiti, Nepal, Portugal, Guatemala, and most recently in Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of the Congo. To learn more about his work in the Congo, click here to read SolarCity, Tesla, and Virunga: Building Solar Micro Grids for the guardians of Africa’s oldest and most biodiverse national park.

Seeking to amplify his impact after over a decade of traveling to remote places to install solar, Joe decided to share his knowledge and experience of off-grid solar energy systems by writing this book.

He is currently a Senior Applications Engineer for Energy Storage at Mercedes-Benz Energy. In his previous position at SolarCity, he supported the Micro Grid Team and the GivePower Foundation by designing solar photovoltaic and Tesla Powerwall systems. He also prototyped, designed, and patented a new solar racking system that enabled SolarCity to become one of the largest commercial installers in the U.S.

Prior to his work at SolarCity, Joe launched a cost-efficient solar racking product at solar manufacturing start-up, Sollega. He has also worked with Sustainable Energy Partners in San Francisco, completing dozens of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.

Joe earned his M.S. from NYU Polytechnic University in Manufacturing Engineering and was selected as a recipient of the Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellowship for Social Entrepreneurship. He earned his B.S. from Cal Poly University in Industrial Technology.

He first became passionate about renewable energy after volunteering with GRID
Alternatives—the Habitat for Humanities of the solar industry—when he teamed up with other volunteers to install solar electric systems on homes of low-income families in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Joe believes that advancements in the renewable energy industry will help our global society break its dependency on oil, coal, and natural gas. He is on a mission to make renewable energy the dominant energy source on our planet.

Source: Amazon

Google Announcement: 100% renewable is just the beginning

Today, we are the world’s largest corporate buyer of renewable power, with commitments reaching 2.6 gigawatts (2,600 megawatts) of wind and solar energy. That’s bigger than many large utilities and more than twice as much as the 1.21 gigawatts it took to send Marty McFly back in time. Read more here.

Click infographic to enlarge it. 


Tesla-SolarCity Merger ‘Overwhelmingly Approved’

By Eric Wesoff, Greentech Media

“The acquisition of SolarCity will create the world’s only integrated sustainable energy company, from energy generation to storage to transportation,” according to a Tesla blog post published ahead of the shareholder vote. By joining forces, the companies can offer a seamless home solar plus storage solution, featuring SolarCity and Tesla’s new “beautiful” solar roof technology and the Powerwall 2.0. Read more.


Image showing Tesla’s new solar roof materials. From left to right: Tuscan Glass Tile, Slate Glass Tile, Textured Glass Tile, and Smooth Glass Tile.

No One Saw Tesla’s Solar Roof Coming, Bloomberg News
Musk reveals how Tesla’s Roof will cost less than a traditional roof, Teslarati