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Welcome to the Ultimate Guide to Solar Panels in Missouri

This page is a complete guide to the complicated and sometimes confusing process of installing solar panels on your Missouri home. Since there's a lot to consider, we've separated the page into sections to help you find what you are looking for. If you find this page useful, please share it with someone who might also find it interesting!

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** What's new for 2020 **

Some good news for homeowners in the state: The cost to install solar is lower than ever, and there are great solar rebates for 2020 to further bring down costs, for folks served by KCP&L, Columbia Water & Light, or Empire District. While some of the rebate tiers have gotten a little less juicy since 2018, there are very lucrative solar investment opportunities here, with some farm installations coupled with USDA grants creating immediate payback scenarios.

You can save thousands of dollars off the up-front cost of solar, combine that with another big cash windfall in the federal solar tax credit, and use electricity bill savings to quickly pay back your net costs. The average homeowner will save thousands over the 25-year operating life of their solar panels, and benefit from increased home value and environmental benefits, to boot!

Questions? There's a lot to lean about home solar on Missouri, and the best way is to speak to a local solar expert. Simply sign up for personalized assistance on our special solar deals page, and we'll have a solar expert reach out to assist you.

What you'll find on this page:

The Solar Strategy section is focused on the 3 ways of paying for solar in Missouri, so you can decide which is best for you. We've created a tool that asks you a few questions and recommends whether you should pursue a solar lease, loan, or outright purchase. Then, we provide detailed analysis of how each works.

The Policy Information section contains all our latest research on the rules set by lawmakers and the Public Utilities Commission, which determine how easy it is to go solar in Missouri. These policies and rules govern everything from renewable energy mandates to interconnection, and have a huge effect on the viability of solar.

Finally, the Solar Incentives section includes information about money-back rebates and grants, tax credits, and tax exemptions for going solar in Missouri.

Click any of the boxes below to go to that section of the page, or scroll down to read the page in order.

Generate an accurate online solar estimate for your home

Your Solar Strategy in Missouri

Figuring out the best way to go solar in Missouri can be a little daunting. From loans and leases to power-purchase agreements, there are a lot of options out there. To help you pick the one that might be best, we've created the handy decision tool below.

We'll ask you a few simple questions about you and your home. Once you're done, we'll recommend a good option. Further down this page, we provide cost estimates and example return-on-investment calculations for all the various options:

How should you pay for solar?

Use our decision tool to find out!

How to pay for solar panels in Missouri

The chart above shows the 25-year returns for an investment in solar whether you choose to purchase a system with cash or pay over time with a loan or Power-Purchase Agreement (PPA). As you can see, the purchase option leads to the highest dollar-amount returns over time, but look a little closer. Taking a solar loan or Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC—the orange bars) and paying for the system over time means you'll actually spend less of your own money over time, while reaping a big financial benefit in year 1.

That's because you take a loan for the system, but you still get a 26% federal tax credit based on the entire cost. You'll start out ahead, so your payments over 15 years will have less impact on you than plunking down a big pile of money up front. All you need is equity or great credit.

Lastly, take a look at the blue bars. They represent a solar Power-Purchase Agreement (PPA), which is also called third-party ownership. With a PPA, you put $0 down on a rooftop solar system and make monthly payments that are little bit less than what you had been paying the utility company or their dirty energy. You still accumulate savings, because the PPA cost will rise by less than the electric company's annual rate hikes. Third-party ownership is an excellent option if you don't have any equity or cash to put down, and it still saves you money!

Where we get our numbers

All these estimates are based on the average home in Missouri, which according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) needs just about 12,500 kilowatt-hours (kWh), and the homeowner (that's you!) has to pay approximately $1,417 for the pleasure of receiving that dirty energy from the utility company. To make enough electricity to offset that bill, the home would need a 10-kW solar system made up of thirty-one 325-watt panels, with an up-front cost of $27,000 after the state's rebates. Don't worry about that price, though—the rest of the available incentives and energy bill savings will take care of a big chunk of it after just 1 year!

Ready to learn more about paying for a home solar system in Missouri? Read on!

How much can solar panels on roof save you?

Option 1: Paying cash for solar

An outright purchase used to be the only way to get solar, and it's still the option that provides the "biggest" financial returns. The reason we put "biggest" in quotes here is because it's technically true, but based on percent return for the money, a loan is a better option.

If you've got cash and you prefer to pay up front, you'll have to plunk down $27,000, but tax breaks and energy savings will erase a bunch of that after just 1 year. Over 25 years, your system will have produced more than $25,000 in income, after your system cost is paid back. The reason this works is that solar offsets your electricity costs—enough to save you about $1,500 in year 1, and it just goes up from there. As the electric company raises rates, you save more and more, and more...

Here’s how the numbers work for a 10-kW rooftop solar system in Missouri:

  • Installing a typical 10-kW solar system should start at about $27,000 after the 2020 Missouri solar rebates. That's cheaper than solar has ever been, but it still might seem like a big investment. Don’t worry, because after tax breaks and energy savings, your first-year costs will be considerably less than that.
  • The Federal government offers a great tax credit worth 26% of system costs after the rebate. So take 26% of $27,000, and you've got $7,020 you won't be paying to Uncle Sam next year. That brings your first-year investment down to $19,980.
  • After the tax credit we subtract your first year’s energy savings, which we estimate to be $1,519. That reduces your cost after the first year to only $18,451.
  • Those electricity savings will quickly make your money back, and your system will pay for itself in 12 years. That means free electricity until at least the end of your panels' 25-year warranty. We're talking $25,700 in savings over 25 years! The internal rate of return for this investment is not too shabby at 9%, but it likely isn't as good as if you just put the money into a mutual fund.
  • And here's a nice bonus to consider: your home's value just increased by nearly $20,000, too (your expected cost after incentives).
  • In addition to all that cash (and home value), you’ve created some green for the earth as well by not using electricity from fossil fuels. It's like planting 459 trees a year, every year your solar power system is humming.
Keep in mind, the numbers above are based on an average home in Missouri. If you're ready for a custom quote for a solar panel system, our network of experts are on call to assist you. Simply sign up for personalized assistance on our special solar deals page.

Option 2: Using a loan to pay for solar

You don't need $27,000 sitting around to pay for solar. As long as you have equity in your home, you can still own solar panels and reap all the benefits. Heck, even if you do have the cash, getting a loan to pay for solar is by far the best option when it comes to percentage return on investment.

That’s because, in Missouri, using a loan to pay for solar is like investing in a business that's sure to succeed, and also earns you a tax break. That's right: a HUGE tax break!. You'll come out thousands ahead this year, and you'll still see a handsome profit over the 25-year life of your system.

A solar purchase like this will make sense for you if the following is true about you and your current situation:

  • You can get a solar loan or home equity line of credit (HELOC) for $26,500, with a fixed rate of 4.5% or lower and a 15-year repayment period. Don't be put off if you're offered a higher rate. It just means a tiny bit less of the thousands of dollars you'll make with solar.
  • You love making money without much risk.

Here’s how the numbers pencil out for an Missouri homeowner who makes a solar purchase with a loan:

  • Installing a typical 10-kW solar system should start at about $27,000 after instant rebates. That's how big your loan will need to be to cover it.
  • The electricity you'll save in the first year of operation would have cost $1,519, but your annual loan payments will be $2,479, meaning you would spend $960 on solar this year, but...
  • You'll also see a huge tax break! The Feds give you 26% of the cost of your system back as an income tax credit, which in this case means $7,020. You'll be paying over time but getting the benefits up front!
  • All those incentives mean you'll come out $6,061 ahead after year 1. Your loan payments will be about $80/month more than your energy bill savings, but that difference will get smaller as the utility company raises rates every year.
  • By the time you've paid off your loan in 2034, you'll see yearly savings of over $2,000, and they'll keep getting larger as the utility raises rates. After 25 years, your total profit will be over $15,500!
  • On top of the green that will stay in your pocket, your system will mean green for the environment, too—459 trees-worth, every year!
Keep in mind, the numbers above are based on an average home in Missouri. If you're ready for a custom quote for a solar loan, our network of experts are on call to assist you. Simply sign up for personalized assistance on our special solar deals page.

Option 3: Buying the electricity, not the panels with a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA)

A PPA is a great way to go solar if you haven't got stacks of cash or oodles of equity in your home. With thrid-party solar like this, it's possible to get solar panels for $0-down and see big savings over 20 or 25 years!

As for PPAs in Missouri: the electricity costs here a little below the national average. That means a PPA doesn't save you much right away, but it will bank you about $318 this year, so you're able to save the planet and make a little cash doing it!

Now that might not sound like a huge amount of money right now, but as the utility company raises rates, you will start to see greater annual savings. Over 25 years, our estimate shows a total savings of about $11,624. The panels will be installed and maintained by professionals, and all you have to do is brag to the Joneses down the street about your green habits!

How a PPA saves you money

Unlike a loan or cash purchase, a PPA means you don't own the panels on your roof. Instead, the solar company fronts the money for the installation, claiming all the available government incentives for themselves. Then over a term of 20 years (plus a 5-year renewal, in our estimate), they sell you the electricity produced by the panels, starting out a little cheaper than the fossil-fuel energy you had been buying from the utility company. Of course you'll still be hooked in to the grid to ensure you have power both when the sun is shining and when it's not, but the excess energy produced by the panels offsets your whole electicity bill just like it would if you own the system.

If you can get a good initial rate and a low escalator clause (the amount the PPA price increases per year), a PPA can truly be a win-win-win; for you, the solar company, and the environment. Of course, if you have the cash, equity, or credit, a solar loan is the best option. But for those without those things, a Missouri solar PPA can be a great option.

Keep in mind, the numbers above are based on an average home in Missouri. If you're ready for a custom quote for a solar PPA, our network of experts are on call to assist you. Simply sign up for personalized assistance on our special solar deals page.

Calculate solar panel cost and savings for your specific home

Missouri Solar Policy Information

Ever wonder why solar seems to be everywhere in some states, but not in others? We did too.

State legislatures and public utilities commissions can enact rules to make solar power accessible for everyone. Favorable rules explain why some of the cloudiest states—New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, are doing so well with solar, and yet some of those with the most natural solar resources—like Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia—are doing so poorly.

Below is important information about the public policy, rules, and economic reasons that affect your ability to go solar here in Missouri:

Missouri's Renewable Portfolio Standard

15% by 2021

Grade: C

Missouri's Renewable Portfolio Standard grade

A Renewables Portfolio Standard (“RPS”) is a law that basically says a certain percentage of a state’s energy production must come from renewable sources by a target date. Many states have passed such standards, with goals as high as 30%, even 40% renewable production in the not-so-distant future.

Missouri has an adequate but not spectacular RPS, mandating 15% renewable energy by 2021. The renewable energy target will be phased in via intermediate goals slowly over time, until arriving at the 15% total by the end of 2021.

Missouri’s RPS is critical to strong renewable energy policy. Utility companies aren't really all that gung-ho about you producing your own power. After all, it costs them money when you use less of their electricity. They also don’t naturally want to give you big payments for energy you're feeding back into the grid. The main reason the utilities are aiding your transition to lower electric bills and offering you incentives to put solar on your roof is because the state forces them to. If they don't hit their RPS numbers, they have to pay large fees back to the state.

Learn more about Renewable Portfolio Standards

Missouri's Solar carve-out and SRECs

.3% by 2021

Grade: C

Missouri's Solar Carve-out grade

A solar carve out means that, of the total amount of energy that must come from renewable power, a certain percentage must come from solar panels. Missouri has a solar carve out, albeit a tiny one, of 2% of the RPS (which means only 0.3% of all electricity generated in the state. That’s not very high, and it doesn’t set the bar very high for electric utilities, giving them little incentive to help homeowners install solar panels. Considering the original RPS in Missouri was brought into being by the voters in 2008 through Proposition C, it may be time to push for a new ballot initiative, something that didn’t happen back in 2012.

Learn more about Solar Carve-outs

Missouri Electricity Prices

$0.11/kWh

Grade: D

Missouri's Electricity cost grade

Missourians pay an average of 11 cents per kilowatt-hour (“kWh”) of electricity; just under 3 cents cheaper than the national average. Cheap, but not as cheap is it used to be. Higher electricity prices mean you’re probably already feeling a little strain in your pocketbook. Just don’t forget why electricity is so cheap.

That’s right, fossil fuels. Lots and lots of fossil fuels. Whatever your opinion of the environmental impacts of fossil fuels, one thing is certain: the financial cost of using them is only going up, up, up for the future. When that happens you’re going to be really happy you switched early to all that efficient, clean solar power that will be in high demand.

In the meantime, solar power will still save you a chunk of change here. We’ll go over just how much in a minute.

Find out why electricity prices matter

Missouri Net Metering

Statewide

Grade: B

Missouri's Net Metering grade

Net Metering requires your utility to monitor how much energy your solar power system produces and how much energy you actually consume, and make sure you get credit for the surplus.

Missouri requires all utilities to offer net metering to customers with solar power systems up to 100kW. Net excess generation is credited to your next bill at a minimum of the utility’s avoided cost rate.

Now, "avoided cost rate" is short for "how much it would have cost us to burn more coal and make electricity at one of our plants," and as you may guess, it's pretty cheap. Like, you pay $.12/kWh for electricity from them, but they'll only pay you $.03/kWh for excess that yo send back to the grid. That's why it's imperative that you size your system so you don't produce more electricity than you use. Talk to an installer near you to determine the best system size for your home.

We’d like to see the law amended to ensure that you get credit for your net excess generation, even if you run a surplus every month. And right now, all credit not used after 12 months reverts back to the utility without compensation. We think the utility should cut you a check for all that surplus instead.

Learn more about net metering

Missouri Interconnection Rules

None

Grade: C

Missouri's Interconnection Standards grade

Interconnection in Missouri falls into the same solid but not spectacular range. You shouldn’t have any trouble getting on the grid due to circuit capacity limits – the most important first step. Also of note, all systems under 10kW (e.g., almost all residential systems) are exempt from any additional insurance requirements. Unfortunately you may still be required, at the utility’s discretion, to install a redundant external disconnect switch. We’d also like to see the 100kW system size limitation removed to allow commercial and industrial customers meet all on-site generation needs, but that doesn’t affect you and your residential system at all.

Learn more about solar interconnection rules

Missouri Solar Incentives

Next to high electricity prices and net metering, solar incentives have traditionally been the most important factor for whether home solar power makes financial sense in a state. In the past, some states with otherwise lousy policy had tremendous incentives that drove down the up-front cost of going solar so much that homeowners could save oodles of money even without net metering or a good RPS.

These days, the big incentive most people can get is the Federal Solar Tax Credit that earns you 26% of your total system costs back after just 1 year. State incentives play less of a role than in the past, but some really good ones are still out there, ready to help homeowners go solar and save money before you know it.

Let's see how Missouri measures up:

The availability of state solar incentives for residential solar systems was sourced from the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency, utility company websites, and the state public utility commission.

Missouri Solar Power Rebates

Many utilities offer

Grade: B

Missouri's Solar Rebates grade

Missouri has what basically amounts to a statewide rebate program for solar installations, because several of the state's largest electric utility companies offer rebates for their customers. Here's what's available for homeowners in Missouri:

UtilityAmountNotes
Ameren$250/kWMust be installed before 2023
Columbia Water & Light$500/kW, up to $5,000Must meet warranty and certification requirements.
Empire District Electric$250/kWMust meet warranty and siting requirements and be installed by 2023
Kansas City Power & Light$500/kWMust meet warranty and certification requirements; funds nearly exhausted
Learn more about solar rebates

Missouri Solar Tax Credits

None

Grade: F

Missouri's Solar Tax Credits grade

Missouri does not offer any tax credits for solar power. Overall the statewide picture is pretty weak so far as solar incentives go. A tax credit would be an easy way to make solar cheaper for you without actually removing any money from the state’s coffers.

However, you can still take advantage of the federal solar tax credit.

Learn more about state solar tax credits

Property Tax Exemption

100%

Grade: A

Missouri's Solar Property Tax Exemptions grade

A solar panel installation on your home adds value to it. We’re talking thousands of dollars of value, based on all that electricity you won’t be paying for in the next few decades. Luckily, Missouri realizes that a good way to encourage homeowners to go solar is to exempt all that additional value from property taxes. That’s right, you will not pay a dime in taxes on all that added value!

Sales Tax Exemption

None

Grade: F

Missouri's Solar Sales Tax Exemption grade

Unfortunately, Missouri is not up to par on the other side of the tax-burden coin. One of the simplest ways for the Missouri state legislature to encourage small scale clean energy adoption is to declare solar panel equipment exempt from state sales taxes as many other progressive states have done. Sadly, there is no such declaration and will have to pay sales tax on the installation of solar panels for your home.

Learn more about tax exemptions for solar

Low-income Solar Programs

None

Grade: F

Missouri's Solar Sales Tax Exemption grade Learn more about low-income solar programs available in the U.S.

In 2019, Missourians can cash in on big utility-backed solar power rebates, saving thousands up-front and reducing payback time to just 11 years. The state still gets a “C” for policy, because we’d like to see a better RPS with solar carve-out, as well as a sales tax exemption.

Still, with solar prices lower than ever and the federal tax credit being reduced over the next few years, now is an excellent time for home solar in Missouri.

67 thoughts on “2020 Guide to Missouri Solar Panels | Incentives, Rebates, and Tax Credits

  1. Can I enter into a PPA with a solar developer In Missouri in 2020

  2. Avatar for James James says:

    Seems your misleading on the savings you haven’t saved until the system is paid for and your charts indicate that’s around yr 20 not 11

    1. Avatar for Ben Zientara Ben Zientara says:

      Hey James, thanks for writing. For a cash investment in solar the system cost is paid back when the green bars cross the $0 line. For our current estimates, a system purchased in 2019 would see a positive value in 2030, or 11 years from now, then continue to accrue profits through 2043. Of course 2019 is just about over, so we’d say it’d probably be from 2020 to 2031 now.

      The good news is with a loan, you can defray all those costs and pay the system off over time. You can take the tax credit in year 1 and start with a gain. Then, as your loan payments will exceed your savings initially, you’ll end up slowly paying off the panels instead of making a huge payment in year 1, but then the savings re-accrue quickly after the loan is paid off.

  3. Avatar for Toni Toni says:

    I just purchased raw land near Stover. In order to get electricity to it through CoMo it will will cost me $10,000 dollars. I’m only going to have a small cabin on the property. I will need some type of energy to operate the pump for a water well. Any advice for me regarding solar energy?

  4. Avatar for Russ Russ says:

    Look into Missouri HR Bill 340. If passed it will make owning solar panels a lot more expensive and increase the payback time. Probably lower the Missouri grade from D to F.

  5. Avatar for Patrick Khosravani Patrick Khosravani says:

    I would add that the life-expectancy of a solar system is well over 30-years, with your inverter(s) needing replacement at year 15, that’s usually $1,200 to $3,000 depending on the size. These days, all solar panel manufacturers set their performance warranties at 80% @ 25-years. So when year 25 comes, output should be at 80% of what it was when the solar panel was brand-new! I would also add that putting your money into solar system is the best form of passive income, it’s tax-free income, and once your pay-back is reached, all energy produced is 100% free – thank you Sun! Oh, and don’t forget that actually solar pays for itself on day 1 just in the value it adds to your home/property, tax-exempt value adder, so property taxes don’t increase! We at Sovereign Solar sell, design, and install home or commercial solar systems throughout the state of Missouri and Kansas. You can pay for your entire system upfront, or you can choose to finance it with a loan, we offer special solar loans. We usually end up elminating, or significantly reducing, our customers’ electric bill and replace it with a solar loan. That new solar loan plus your new electric bill – combined – is now lower than your old bill. We being saving folks money on from the moment they sign with us. Let’s not forget the 30% Federatl ITC. Next time you pay your annoying electric bill, think about us! We are Sovereign Solar, headquartered in Kansas City, MO (816) 920-0745. Website: http://www.sovereignsolarusa.com or check us out on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sovereignusa. Thanks for the shameless self-promotion, Solar Power Rocks!

  6. Avatar for Patrick Khosravani Patrick Khosravani says:

    Solar Power Rocks, an excellent article. The example 5 kW system priced at $20,000 used throughout this article to model the investment returns is on the higher side of the scale. 5 kW (or 5,000w) divided by $20k is $4.00 per watt. We’ve run into installers offering home solar systems at $3.50 per watt, even $3.25 per watt. My company, Sovereign Solar, offers systems below $3.00 per watt, and that’s using the best solar panels and equipment: LG, SolarWorld, Kyocera, SMA, SolarEdge, Fronius.

  7. Avatar for Chris Chris says:

    “Net excess generation is credited to your next bill at a minimum of the utility’s avoided cost rate. That’s pretty solid.” This is overstating it. For any excess generation, you are paid $0.0277 per kWh while anything one consumes is charged at the rate of $0.12-$0.13 per kWh. My understanding is that this “credit”, which it really isn’t, is one of the worst in the country. This should not be painted in a positive light. It is criminal.

    1. Avatar for Ben Zientara Ben Zientara says:

      Thanks, Chris.

      We agree that it isn’t “pretty solid,” as we stated above. We’ve amended the paragraph to reflect that. The best states recognize that renewables, including solar, have a value greater than the avoided cost or even wholesale electricity rates, and ensure generators get paid full retail rates for the electricity they don’t use. We’re hopeful that there will someday be a national standard for net metering that provides for a fair “value of solar” assessment and requires utilities to pay a rate for excess solar generation that is commensurate with the benefits distributed generation provides for the grid.

  8. Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

    Of course Missourians can lease. Residents, nonprofits, whomever. Also, there is still rebate money available as of today from KCPL. Contact Solar Rich Power and we’ll make it happen!!

  9. Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

    The Rebates in Ameren are all gone now. You may want to update this page.

  10. Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

    Eric Kjelshus Energy has been installing solar panels and converting homes and buildings to solar energy in Kansas City, MO for over 30 years. http://ericsenergy.com/solar-services/

  11. Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

    How about some info covering KCPL in Kansas City?

  12. Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

    we want a good deal on a standard roof. It is the end of December and if it is too late to ride in on rebates, what is the point?

    1. Avatar for dllorens dllorens says:

      Hey there – where do you live? December likely does not end rebates for you but would need to know your location

  13. Avatar for Shayla Shayla says:

    I read this piece of writing completely regarding the difference of most up-to-date and preceding technologies, it’s amazing article.

    my site: skincare products (Shayla)

  14. Avatar for G. Michael Murphy G. Michael Murphy says:

    Ameren Missouri now only paying $5 per SREC in 2013. They paid me $50/SREC in 2012.

  15. Avatar for Kauffler Solar Kauffler Solar says:

    Great stuff and great page! If anyone is interested in a free solar panel system for your home or business – see us at http://www.kauffler.com

  16. Avatar for Frank Frank says:

    I”m an Electrician in St. Louis City and County, Jefferson and St Charles County. As it is now, looking at the prices of solar panels and equipment we are under $4 a watt and in some cases under $3 a Watt for a complete. wright now we can setup a lease that would have the home owner in the payed back with in two years and getting xxxx amount per month off there Ameren bill depending the size system

    1. Avatar for Ernie Hillsman Ernie Hillsman says:

      A&E Solar Systems in the KCPL area can offer a complete system for $3.00 a watt. So your out of pocket is $25,000 – 30% tax credit = $17,500. Take a typical & $200 a month savings and now your payout is about 7 years.
      A&E Solar Systems 816 616 6931

    2. Avatar for Aliz Smith Aliz Smith says:

      Can you recommend a company in STL to contact to get the rate you mention above? I am doing research and so far I was not able to find a company that would do it for $3. I would like to have a system installed before the end of this year. Thanks!

  17. Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

    here is a company in STL doing just that. good luck.. i too have the same idea. shouldnt be long.. ;) http://microgrid-solar.com/

  18. Avatar for Debbie Debbie says:

    Better update that price from 9.27 cents per kilowatt-hour to more like 11.36!! And when Ameren gets the ok to raise rates again next month, it’ll go up even more. And they’ve already said they’re asking yet again when this increase gets approved. *sigh*

  19. Avatar for Bryan Hornsby Bryan Hornsby says:

    KCP&L now has $2/watt rebate for Kansas City customers…think this should be updated! http://www.sovdepot.com

  20. Avatar for Gerry Gerry says:

    Energy conservation with solar panels on the roof equal money in the bank.

    In 1984 my wife and I built a 1900 square foot home in surburban (Sappington) St.Louis. We had purchased the lot two years previous and had spent the intervening months planning. We had survived the energy crisis of the 70’s and planned a super-insulated house with solar potential. The house was built with a south facing front which we planned to utilize for solar power. Unfortunately in the 1980s the cost of solar electric panels for the house would have exceeded $50,000 with no incentives and questionable tax credits. Rather than that type of investment we learned how to minimize our energy use.

    The construction is of highly insulated SIP (structural insulated panels) which we learned about a the St Louis Builder’s and Home Show. The panels are of 4′ x 8′ x 6” which are made up of 3/8” wafer board sheets with 6” of foam insulation between. The wall insulation is rated at R-25 and we have R-38 attic insulation. The panels were advertised to save approximately 50% of heating and cooling costs. There was a slight premium to build using these panels but we looked at the energy savings to pay this back within 7 to 10 years. Since the construction was so efficient we enjoyed energy bills which were approximately one half of those of our neighbors. The house was so efficient that Union Electric (now Ameren) examined their meter during the first summer because our electric usage was so much lower than surrounding homes.

    We installed a instant natural gas water heater that made hot water on demand with no storage.
    The only noticeable “solar” treatment was the 18′ glassed front porch which provides passive heat during the winter to the house. With this feature we were able to take advantage of a $5,000.00 solar tax credit offered by the IRS.

    We have used flourescent tube lighting and CFL (compact fluorescent lights) bulbs throughout the house and worked hard to minimized our energy costs. The basement was finished with R-19 insulated walls and an old water heater tank was adapted as a preheater for the demand water heater. A preheater tank allows the cold water entering the house (approximately 45 to 50 degrees during the winter to reach 65 degrees before being heated for use). I am planning to add a solar water next year. Last year we took advantage of the Laclede Gas and IRS incentives and replaced our HVAC system with a 95% efficient furnace and a 14 SEER air conditioner. Our already low total energy costs dropped to $105.00 per month.

    During the past winter I began investigating the possibility of adding Photovoltaic panels to our home and discovered the following:
    St Louis receives 92% of the solar energy potential as Miami .
    Each 1 kWh produced from solar there is saving of burning approximately one pound of coal and it’s associated pollution.
    The life of a PV systems is at least 30 years with almost no maintenance.
    For every annual $1 savings of electricity that is offset with solar adds approximately $20 to you homes value.
    Ameren offers significant incentives for solar electric systems (almost 50%).
    The federal government offers (until 2016) a 30% tax credit that would also apply to this installation.

    Wishing gave way to planning and that to installation. On July 18 of this year, during the 100 degree heat of the summer, we became electric producers. A 4.1 KW system was installed using 18 panels installed on the south facing slope to the roof. The installation was completed in only 3 days, 60 days after applying for permits and Ameren approval. The initial cost of the system was approximately $24,000.00 but within 60 days we received two checks from Ameren totaling $13,500.00 and after the solar tax credit is taken on our 2011 tax return the cost of my system with be less than $6,000.00.
    Since the installation, and not changing the thermostat setting, our electric bills have averaged $6.00 per month. I know that we will never achive a net 0 in energy costs but when considering that the average homeowner in St Louis spends over $2,000 a year for electricity our estimated annual cost will be under $150.00.

    We chose this type of investment for a variety of reasons, the first was the potential for huge cost saving for the next 30 years, along with the reduction of greenhouse gassses associated with the production of our electricity. We had prepared for the addition of solar power for our house by minimizing our electric use. By minimizing our energy demand we were able to reduce our photvoltalic system size. At the present Ameren rates, the system will pay for itself in less than 10 years and with any rate increases that time will shorten. Where else can you get a 7% rate of return on very safe investment. Not at the paltry rates paid by banks. Possibly better rates in the stock market, but is that safe? Not with a hybrid car that costs $25,000.00 with a small credit, depreciation, and will require eventual battery replacement.

    We took the economically and environmentally sensible approach. We went solar and love it.

    There are many solar companies operating in the St Louis area and a quick internet search will offer you many choices. Learn how to reduce you electric power use, (visit “www.energystar.gov”) get your estimates, check with the BBB and join the solar powered life.

  21. Avatar for Kenn Drescher Kenn Drescher says:

    Just finished the above mentioned Solar Energy Systems Training given by ONtility instructor: Tim Coats. 1 week, and 40 hours of intense, but not “tense” education in PV Solar residential, & commercial applications. At GrayBar, St Louis. Course included a 6 panel install on a ground placed shingled roof at = 102 F!
    Course titled: NABCEP Entry-Level Solar Electric Systems, might be a bit misleading. I started at the entry level, and now ave a much more sophisticated understanding of PV Systems than many commercial building maintaince managers whom thought they have it all figured out.
    Am available, and actively seeking employment in the St Louis Metro Solar Industry. Appreciate your consideration. PS: Mr. Coats was a very fine Instructor!

  22. Avatar for Sue Sue says:

    I see some have commented that they would like to get involved directly in the solar industry and don’t know where to start. I found solar training that is coming to Missouri next week (July 18-22, 2011). Information can be found here: http://preview.tinyurl.com/ONTILITYtrainingSTL

    I noticed there are also scholarships for displaced construction workers.

  23. Avatar for Kent Kent says:

    It is the cost that keeps me from installing. I could remodel my house for what installers want ($60k at this time) and have it more efficient as a matter of guess work, I could probably have my house 50% more efficient with $20 of investment. No need to go solar until the manufacturers and sellers get reasonable, 5 year 100% warranty parts and labor and a 5 year RIO is reasonable.

  24. Avatar for Gerard Nordskoven Gerard Nordskoven says:

    Jesus Christ help us! Dead leaves and wood composting on the ground (slow oxidation) produce the same amount of CO2 as a tree burning (fast oxidation) in the wood-burning stove. Harness it.

  25. Avatar for Pat Pat says:

    Very interested in building and installing a solar/wind grid tied battery back-up system. Is there any state or federal exp. DOE papers or guides. Sevral books solar or wind combining not so much. Also any local suppliers of inverters etc.

  26. Avatar for James R. Wattler James R. Wattler says:

    Hellow Everybody this is James Wattler of Eureka. Several individuals including myself are trying to turn our campus St. Louis Communtiy College into a green campus. We are working on several possibilities. If anyone has some ideas that I can bring up to the Disctrict Green Committee that would be greatly appreciated. Shoot me an e-mail at [email protected]
    *companies in the area that are cheap
    *grants we could get
    *tax information
    *price on panels
    *savings facts
    Thanks,
    James

  27. Avatar for Marie Marie says:

    Over time, *every* technology has become cheaper – except solar energy. Look at the prices of televisions, VCRs, DVD players, home computers, etc. In the beginning, only the “rich” could afford the new toys, but competition brought the price down fast.

    With gov’t subsidies, the companies have no incentive to bring the prices down. They can still get tens of thousands of dollars in profits in places where the gov’t is willing to foot the bill.

    If we kill *all* gov’t subsidies, companies will become more efficient and drop their prices in order to survive. Kill the subsidies, then wait about four or five years. Solar will be affordable for everyone.

  28. Avatar for Kenneth N. Amend Kenneth N. Amend says:

    I myself was raised in South Florida, though after the Navy decided to relocate as my parents did here in Jefferson City,Mo.I have worked in the roofing industry for roughly 12 years. Though solar has gotten my attention.Would LOVE to learn more…though given excess energy back to the power company is a slap in the FACE..especially after getting teased with such a small rebate. I don’t claim to be the smartest, wheres the incentive.

  29. Avatar for Andrew Andrew says:

    I would like to install solar on the trailer I’m currently in but the cost you mention is prohibitive.

  30. Avatar for Erika Erika says:

    If I buy a system that is too big, what happens to the “extra” power if I’m not attached to the grid? If I understand correctly from friends’ systems, “extra” power is simply lost if their batteries are full. Is there any benefit to turning the system “off”? Seems like staying attached to the grid is better (in an emergency, in February, whatever) but important to install a system that is about the right size or a little too small.

  31. Avatar for Rebecca Rebecca says:

    I have a horse farm in Kansas City that sits on the top of the hill and gets more than six hours of direct sun light per day. We were thinking of installing solar panels on the roof. We aren’t a gigantic energy user — although we run fans on the horses in the summer — but our bills run several hundred dollars per month. We had thought we could sell the excess energy to the grid. From what I’ve seen that won’t work in MO. Can we take our property “off the grid” entirely if we produce enough energy?

  32. Avatar for Brett Brett says:

    The power company’s are scarred, as they see what happened to the landline telephones business over the past 10 years due to people adopting cell phones and VOIP, and shutting down their expensive land lines, AT&T and Verizon have laid off thousands of workers and more are in the works.

    The same will happen to power company’s once solar is adopted on a large scale give it another 10 years, someone will make the systems cheaper and better than by power companies

    1. Avatar for Tor a.k.a. "Solar Fred" Tor a.k.a. "Solar Fred" says:

      We’re already on our way, Brett. It’s a little complicated, but see this report from the NREL. Solar is already at grid parity in some states. Not Missouri yet, but sooner than you think.

      http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy10osti/46909.pdf

  33. Avatar for Tor a.k.a. "Solar Fred" Tor a.k.a. "Solar Fred" says:

    Thanks, Kevin! We try to keep track of all 50 states, so lots to keep up with. We appreciate your (and others’) updates.

  34. Avatar for Kevin Ward Kevin Ward says:

    Please update your site for the new $2 a watt Solar rebates available through KCPL and Amergen UE. We are awaiting approval to install the first system under the Amergen UE program right now. These rebates went into affect on January 1st.

  35. Avatar for sharkman sharkman says:

    Wait a minute did I read this correctly any excess energy that is generated and accumulated during the year does not get issued as a credit or a rebate check? It just gets picked up by the utility company and billed out? If this is correct that is insanity. I am located in a particularly winded area with consistent year around avg wind speed at local air port(1-/2 mile away) and I am over 1000 ft higher elevation I am prime for wind and solar. I was thinking about powering the workshop I am building utilizing the 2 but would never use all i would generate because would only use maybe 20 hours a week but would need all the panels to power 100% I was under the impression it was fedral law that the electric companies had to buy back all kwh that went unused at whatever the current rate was. I would rather dump my unused electric than give the even 1 watt

  36. Avatar for Kevin Ward Kevin Ward says:

    Rasgaitis, If you are around St Louis we help you with a Solar System lease but it needs to be commissioned after January 1st and your utility needs to be AmerenUE which quietly announced a $2 a watt rebate last week. We have numerous installs already under contract in the area and will commission several on that date.

  37. Avatar for T. Rasgaitis T. Rasgaitis says:

    I’m a medically retired veteran. Since I only collect disability I do not have to file taxes. Where is my incentive. What the state offers is nothing.

    1. Avatar for Tor a.k.a. "Solar Fred" Tor a.k.a. "Solar Fred" says:

      Hey, T. That’s something to ask your legislator, I’m afraid. Not us. If you can’t benefit from the Federal 30% tax credit, you’re not going to receive any incentives at this point. However, there may be some programs headed your way where you can finance the system through a special tax assessment on your property. Generally, these payments can be less than your current electric bill, but I don’t think any city in Mighty Mo land has adopted a PACE financing, sometimes known as “the Berkley program” or “municipal financing.”

      Bottom line, you’re not gonna get any incentives at this point, but that may change in the next few years. Also, please bug your local lawmakers to adopt PACE.

      Wish I could be more help.

  38. Avatar for Dan Hahn Dan Hahn says:

    Thanks Tammy,

    Noted above.

  39. Avatar for Tammy Tammy says:

    The information you have posted under legislation for Missouri’s wood energy tax credit is incorrect & misleading. You make is sound like a tax credit is given for cutting down trees. The credit is given for using Missouri forestry industry residue.
    “Residue that results from normal timber harvest or production from a location within Missouri. It includes slash, saw dust, shavings,edgings, slabs, leaves, bark and timberthinnings from timber stand improvements which are located within Missouri.”
    To make
    (C) Processed wood products,Wood pellets,
    cubes, charcoal, flour or any product
    that results from thermal, chemical or
    mechanical processes that sufficiently alterMissouri forestry industry residue into a product that can be used as an energy source.
    So it is not cutting down healthy trees-it is using “leftovers”

  40. Avatar for Shawn Evans Shawn Evans says:

    Yes there needs to be cheaper ways to go solar and wind. Mainstreaming will bring it down. But Missouri is behind the times to the smaller towns need to go with mandatory recycling and incentives to get off grid or grid tie to put in cheaper systems. I am building a work shop I would like to have solar and wind power for this put it would break me to install. If someone has a way I could do this cheaply let me know.

  41. Avatar for Mark Mark says:

    If and when the State and Federal governments agree to truly support and ‘subsidize’alternative enery with a meaningful tax credit (like 50% of the total system cost), people will start installing them and this new industry will flourish. Until then it’s just more political lipservice!

  42. Avatar for LeeAnn LeeAnn says:

    At the recent KCMO Home remodeling show I asked a representative of a solar panel manufacturer for a list of dealer/installers in the state. Not only did he refuse to pass along the information but he also told me that Missouri was interpreting the 35% tax rebate for solar systems installed “after January 1, 2009” to be anytime…and will not grant tax rebates until sometime in 2010. Is this information correct?

  43. Avatar for Dan Hahn Dan Hahn says:

    William,

    Panel estimates should be made based on energy usage, not the square footage of your space. Reason is, you could have an art gallery in all that space or you could be running heavy machinery in that space. The answer is to take a look at your power bill over the past year. Then, take an average of the kwh used over all those months. With that number in hand, you can get a sense of how many panels you’d need to eliminate your bill. Each panel might account for roughly 25-35kwh, depending on access to sunlight.

    Hope this helps,

    – Dan

  44. Avatar for William Brueggen William Brueggen says:

    We have 30,000 sq ft of office space & 40,000 sq ft of warehouse. How do I calculate how many solar panels I will need to provide electricity for my whole operation? Is there a formula?

  45. Avatar for Chris Chris says:

    We are in the proccess of building a solar furnace using recycled aluminum cans. Depending on your building and salvaging skills these can be built for under $100 and produce 5000 btu’s of heat. Lots of construction videos for free on youtube.

    1. Avatar for scot scot says:

      I would like to know more please

  46. Avatar for Gene Gene says:

    Back in the 1970’s my parents were given for free a solar box that was installed on the outside of their home, this heated the whole house, where can I get the same thing for my house. You don’t see anything like this any more. I live in North Kansas city , mo.

  47. Avatar for Mike Rakestraw Mike Rakestraw says:

    Just a note, as of now you can recive solar paneling for as little as a dollar a watt, figuring the average house uses 1000 watts a day, for a 1000 dollars you can run your homes electronics for free!

  48. Avatar for Dan Hahn Dan Hahn says:

    Hi Dave,

    We’re disappointed as well that the federal tax credit for going solar is a measley $2,000. However, we’re even more disappointed that congress failed to even renew that incentive, so it expires December 31st. On the table is a $4,000 maximum credit for solar that will probably be passed next year. Still though, you’re correct this is a drop in the bucket. Much of the incentive for solar adoption will be left to the states. Hopefully Missouri gets on board requiring their utilities to derive a significant portion of energy from renewables in the near term. That way, utilities will be forced to provide significant rebates or agree to purchase clean power from solar adopters at a higher rate. We urge all Missouri residents to contact their congressmen to make this happen.

  49. Avatar for Dave Dave says:

    I’m disappointed to read that the the federal tax credit for going solar is a measley 2 thousand dollars. That is hardly a drop in the bucket when paying 54 grand for a system. What about Missouri? No tax credits for this??

  50. Avatar for Oneal Oneal says:

    This entire program is ridiculous! Why would anybody pay $54,000 plus interest to save $900 a year for 27 years. It another government mortgage trap. I guess whoever thought of this consider people who would like to save as simply…fools. Take your panels and ram it.

  51. Avatar for Brad Brad says:

    I will probably be going solar soon but not net metering as long as there is a chance I will be donating to the power companies. That is wrong if I generate it I should be paid for it the same as we have to pay the electric company. They will shut you off if you don’t pay. Why should they get anything for free?

  52. Avatar for Diana Diana says:

    I disagree with the statement that wood burning is not green. The technology today allows for efficient burning of wood and for those of us in heavily wooded areas, this is a very manageable and renewable resource.

    Missouri needs to get on the ball and do net metering correctly, not to benefit the electric company. If they keep going like this, when my house goes up this year, I’ll go off the grid. Wind is very plentiful here in the Ozarks and possibly garners a better bang for the buck.

  53. Avatar for Dana Connell Dana Connell says:

    Hi, My husband is in construction, but he would like to get into something else. He was interested in becoming an installer of solar/wind mills. Since gas prices have soard we thought people could save money by going solar. We live in Missouri and know nothing about solar and need some assistance. Is this a profitable business? Thanks

  54. Avatar for Andy Andy says:

    I don’t see any power companies donating their power.

  55. Avatar for ray ray says:

    When will there be a tax break to be able to make a diffrence in the green ?

  56. Avatar for Daniel Poett Daniel Poett says:

    Hello:

    We are G2Power Technologies, llc and we are a St. Louis based solar company offering solar products to the Missouri region. Please visit our page and learn more about how you can install solar products to your home and start reducing your addiction to utility companies.

    http://www.g2power.com
    [email protected]

  57. Avatar for Michael Monteith Michael Monteith says:

    They have plenty to go by. Like California offers $2.2/watt and Nevada is like $3/watt rebate for solar. That reduces the cost per watt of putting in solar tremendiously to make it somewhat feasible. But still people use too much total electricity in the first place and need to reduce that. For me installing and buying my own equipment and installing it will defray the costs somewhat. Looks like windmills are better from the cost per watt side of it. I’ll probably have a combination.

    Missouri needs to get aggressive and make up for lost time. Give incentives to reduce how much electricity you use. Incentives for using more efficient devices. Incentives converting to solar and wind. It should have already been in place.

    Michael

  58. Avatar for larry j roberts larry j roberts says:

    I would like to install a solar and wind system. I think the recent bill 54 will allow me to place the system in operation as a grid tied net metering. The bill should not have allowed donating it to the power company at any time – seems ridiculous.
    I hope that a sun tracker will allow me to get maximum operation out of the system. For $2,000 tax credit or $6,666 of equipment, the project will have a small incentive. should have been a bigger incentive.

  59. Avatar for Matt Matt says:

    I would love to install solar, but the return on investment is way too far out to make sense. Government is clearly not serious about promoting alternative energy sources or they would offer larger tax rebates. I would rather build the structure in a more energy-efficient manner (eg. ICF’s, foam insulation, earth berm) and use the coop for power. Maybe someday solar and wind will make sense ecomomically.

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