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Solar Panels in Nebraska: Cost, Savings, and Rebates

Hi there! If you‘re a homeowner in Nebraska interested in going solar, you‘ve come to the right place. In this detailed guide, I‘ll walk you through everything you need to know about installing solar panels in the Cornhusker State. I‘ve got all the details on costs, savings, incentives, top installers, and more to help you make the best decision for your home. Let‘s get started!

Solar Energy Use in Nebraska

First, let‘s talk about where Nebraska stands today when it comes to adopting solar power. As of 2022, Nebraska ranked 44th among U.S. states for solar energy production, with just 83 megawatts of total installed solar capacity statewide. That‘s enough to power around 12,000 homes.

For comparison, neighboring Iowa produces over 1,200 MW of solar power – over 14 times more! And leading solar states like California and Arizona have nearly 20,000 MW of solar capacity. So Nebraska definitely lags behind much of the nation when it comes to utilizing this renewable resource.

But the good news is that solar is growing rapidly here! Between 2021 and 2022, Nebraska increased its solar generation by 32%, showing that interest in solar is on the rise. As costs continue to fall, solar becomes more accessible for Nebraska families who want to reduce their environmental impact and take control of their energy costs.

Average Cost of Installing Solar Panels in Nebraska

Let‘s look at what it costs to go solar in Nebraska…

According to the latest data, a typical 6 kilowatt (kW) solar panel system costs around $16,980 on average in Nebraska, before any incentives or tax credits. That comes out to about $2.83 per watt of solar capacity.

To give you a sense of how that compares to other places, the national average solar panel cost is currently $2.65/watt. So installing solar power in Nebraska comes at about a 6.4% premium compared to the U.S. average.

Solar panel costs also vary quite a bit depending on which part of Nebraska you live in:

Nebraska City Average Solar Panel Cost per Watt
Omaha $2.75
Lincoln $2.68
Grand Island $2.91
Kearney $2.83
North Platte $3.02
Scottsbluff $2.67

As you can see, solar panel costs tend to be lower in higher population areas like Omaha and Lincoln, where there is more competition among installers. But even between those two major cities, there‘s a 7 cent per watt difference in average solar panel system prices.

When getting quotes for your own home, make sure to compare multiple solar providers to find the best deal. I‘ll highlight a few of my top recommended installers in Nebraska a bit later on.

Factors That Influence Solar Panel Costs in Nebraska

There are many factors that affect the cost of going solar in Nebraska beyond just your location. Here are some of the main ones to be aware of:

  • Roof type – Solar installations on sloped shingle roofs are typically less expensive than installations on flat or metal roofs that require additional racking and mounting equipment.

  • Roof condition – Poor roof quality requiring repairs or replacement can add $2,000+ to your overall costs before going solar.

  • Solar panel efficiency – Standard efficiency panels are fine for Nebraska. High-efficiency panels cost more but require less roof space.

  • Equipment brands – You get what you pay for. Premium solar equipment from top brands like SunPower and LG will last longer but have higher upfront costs.

  • System size – Larger solar arrays cost more overall, but cost per watt often decreases with increased size due to bulk discounts.

  • Labor costs – Simple, ground-level installations are cheaper. Complex projects involving steep roofs or electrical upgrades cost more in labor.

  • Permits & fees – Most cities charge $200 to $500 for solar permitting and inspection fees. Your utility may also charge an interconnection fee.

  • Solar incentives – Local rebates and state/federal tax credits can shave thousands off your overall system cost.

I always recommend getting at least 3 quotes from reputable local solar installers to find both the best price and service. Comparing bids apples-to-apples is key.

How Much Solar Do You Need in Nebraska?

One factor that often surprises Nebraska homeowners is that you need a larger solar system here to produce the same amount of power as you would in sunnier states further south. That‘s because Nebraska averages 4-5 peak sunlight hours per day, compared to 6-8+ peak hours in places like Arizona and California.

Peak sunlight hours are a measure of the solar irradiance available. More peak hours equals more potential electricity generation. To find the right solar panel system size for your home, take your average daily energy use and divide it by your city‘s peak sun hours:

Your average daily energy use (kWh) / Peak sunlight hours = Optimal system size (kW)

For example, the typical Nebraska home uses around 33.8 kWh of electricity per day. For a city getting 5 peak hours of sun like Scottsbluff, the math is:

33.8 kWh / 5 hours = 6.76 kW solar panel system

If you live in an area with fewer peak sunlight hours, like 4.8 hours per day in Omaha, you‘d need a larger 7 kW system to meet the same energy needs.

Work with your solar installer to analyze your historical utility bills and determine the properly sized system for your home based on actual usage. This ensures your solar panels can offset as much of your electricity bill as possible.

Top Solar Panel Installers in Nebraska

Choosing the right solar company is just as important as choosing the right solar panel system size!

Here are a few of my most recommended solar installers in Nebraska, based on factors like experience, quality of service, equipment offered, and warranty protection:

Solar Energy World – One of the leading local installers in Nebraska with over 15 years of experience and over 1,500 installations across the state. They offer flexible financing, battery storage add-ons, and 25-year warranties on solar equipment.

StraightUp Solar – Locally-owned installer operating out of Omaha. They use premium equipment from top brands like LG, Silfab, and Mission Solar. StraightUp Solar provides detailed energy audits and handles all permitting paperwork.

Geo Solar Energy – Veteran-owned business serving homeowners across Nebraska. Geo Solar focuses on education and transparent pricing. Their installers are certified through the NABCEP program.

SolarTech Universal – This Lincoln-based company has nearly 15 years of solar experience under their belt. They handle everything from permits to grid connection and offer remote design assessments.

No matter which installer you choose, look for an established track record of positive customer reviews in Nebraska. And be sure to ask about warranties – quality solar companies will warranty their workmanship for 10-25 years and equipment for 20-25 years. This protects your investment.

Will Solar Panels Save You Money in Nebraska?

Now for the big question – how much can you actually save by going solar in Nebraska?

While payback periods are longer here than sunnier states, solar panels absolutely can save you money over time if you purchase your system. The key is that you need to own the panels long enough to recoup your initial investment through electricity bill savings.

The typical payback period for solar panels in Nebraska is around 11-12 years, according to most estimates. This means it takes 11-12 years before your accumulated energy bill savings cover the original cost of your solar installation.

For example, if you paid $16,000 for a solar panel system (after tax credits and incentives), and your annual utility savings from solar is $1,500, your payback period would be around 10.7 years ($16,000 / $1,500 per year = 10.7 years).

While longer payback periods may deter some homeowners, you need to look at the useful life of a solar energy system, which is typically 25 years or longer. If you own the panels long enough, solar becomes cash-positive and can yield 10+ years of electricity at little-to-no-cost.

Over the full 25-year lifespan, a solar panel system in Nebraska can save homeowners between $12,000 – $20,000 when you factor in avoided utility bills. And unlike monthly electric rates, your solar locked in your energy costs for decades. That protection against rising utility rates is an underrated long-term benefit.

Bottom line – if you plan to stay in your home for 10+ years, solar panels are a smart way to take control of your energy costs and go green at the same time.

Solar Panel Tax Credits and Incentives in Nebraska

To help offset the initial costs, it‘s wise to utilize any solar tax credits and rebates available to Nebraska homeowners and businesses.

Here are some of the top solar incentives in NE you can take advantage of:

  • Federal Solar Tax Credit – This provides a 26% tax credit for solar systems installed through 2023. For a $16,000 solar installation, that equates to $4,160 in tax credits. Drops to 22% in 2024.

  • Omaha Energy Efficiency Program – OPPD customers in Omaha can qualify for a $500 rebate on solar panels, plus additional storage rebates.

  • LES Renewable Generation Rider – Lincoln Electric System customers receive bill credits of $0.03 / kWh for solar generation up to 25 kW. Credits appear as line items on your electricity bills.

  • USDA REAP Grants – Up to 25% of installation costs covered for agricultural producers and rural small businesses. Max grant is $500,000.

  • PACE Financing – Allows 100% solar financing through property taxes in select areas, including Douglas County and Lincoln. Low interest rates.

Your installer can advise you on incentives and provide assistance applying for them. Make sure to utilize the 26% federal tax credit before it expires!

Solar Panel Financing Options in Nebraska

Coming up with cash to purchase a solar panel system is one of the biggest barriers for homeowners. Fortunately, you don‘t have to pay for everything upfront out of pocket!

Some popular solar financing options to consider in Nebraska include:

  • Solar Loans – Borrow needed funds from a lender or credit union at competitive interest rates as low as 3-6% for qualified applicants. This is an affordable way to finance panels long-term.

  • Solar Leases – No upfront cost option where a solar company installs a system on your roof for free in exchange for monthly lease payments over 15-25 years. You benefit from lower electric bills without purchasing the equipment.

  • PPAs – Solar Power Purchase Agreements work like leases but you pay for the system‘s actual electrical output monthly rather than a fixed lease payment amount.

  • PACE Loans – Financing secured through property taxes, allowing you to make low monthly payments and deduct interest. Requirement: your home must be located within a PACE-approved district.

Discuss the best solar financing options for your particular situation with installers to find the right model. Leases and PPAs allow you to go solar for $0 down in most cases.

The Environmental Benefits of Going Solar in Nebraska

Aside from the long-term utility savings, embracing solar power provides tremendous environmental benefits that we should all care about as stewards of our planet.

Here‘s a quick look at the positive environmental impact your solar panels in Nebraska will have over their 25+ year lifespan:

  • Reduce your home‘s carbon footprint by 25+ metric tons – equivalent to planting over 600 trees!

  • Avoid over 30 tons of harmful coal combustion waste from being produced.

  • Save nearly 500,000 gallons of water that would have been used for fossil fuel energy generation.

  • Prevent thousands of pounds of air pollutants like sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides from harming local air quality.

So by converting your home to solar power, you‘re doing your part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, protect natural resources like water, and improve the environment for future generations here in Nebraska. That‘s a big win for our state and our planet!

Let‘s Go Solar, Nebraska!

I hope this rather lengthy guide gave you all the details you need to make the right solar decision for your Nebraska home. While upfront costs are higher than some states, solar panels can still provide nice long-term savings if you utilize all available incentives and tax credits.

More importantly, you‘ll be generating clean, renewable power while reducing your environmental impact. And once your system is paid off, you‘ll enjoy years of virtually free electricity from the sun!

There are great financing options available as well, so you don‘t need to pay for the entire system upfront in cash. Leasing or financing over time can make solar very affordable.

Ready to go solar? Reach out to one of my recommended installers for a free site assessment and no obligation quotes. They‘ll properly size a system for your home and help you take advantage of every possible solar rebate and tax break.

The future is bright (and solar!) here in Nebraska. Let‘s show the country that the Cornhusker State is embracing renewable energy!