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Welcome to the Ultimate Guide to Home Solar Panels in Nebraska

For every dollar you invest in solar panels in Nebraska,
you get an average of $1.53 in savings.

Total savings
over 25 years

Power bill savings &
production incentives

0

Cost of solar
in Nebraska

Up-front cost after
1st-year incentives

0
=
$ $ $ $

0

return per
dollar invested

Learn More

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Your 2020 guide to getting solar panels for your home in Nebraska

This page is a complete guide to the complicated and sometimes confusing process of installing solar panels on your Nebraska 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 **

If you live in the Lincoln and Omaha areas, here’s some good news. Your utility company allows net metering to give you credits for sending your solar power back into the grid and make it pretty easy to interconnect. Lincoln Electric continues to offer some rebates. However, without stronger rules protecting that net billing arrangement, the current climate could shift and homeowners who want to install solar could be S.O.L.

Seriously, though, Nebraska is a beautiful state with lots of natural bounty to protect. But when even residents of one of the state’s most forward-thinking city have shown tepid interest in supporting solar, where is the legislature, which with a few simple laws can spark a solar revolution in Nebraska like we’ve seen in other states? Read on to learn what's needed for the home solar industry to really take off here.

Questions? Our network of solar experts are on call to assist you. Simply sign up for personalized assistance on our special solar deals page. You can get discounted on-grid pricing as low as $4,000/kW! This is paired with the Nebraska solar incentives you see below.

What you'll find on this page:

The Solar Strategy section is focused on the 3 ways of paying for solar in Nebraska, 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 Nebraska. 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 Nebraska.

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

Your Solar Strategy in Nebraska

Figuring out the best way to go solar in Nebraska 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 Nebraska

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. As you can see, Nebraska has the potential for some financial returns, but not a lot. The purchase option leads to the highest dollar-amount returns over time, but the solar loan option gets you the monetary benefits up front and stretches the costs over the long term.

Look, we're not going to lie to you here. The financial picture for solar in Nebraska is just not that great. If you're a committed environmentalist or a do-it-yourselfer who can cut the costs to install in half, you'll see some benefits. Otherwise, maybe advocate with your state reps to get some good solar policy on the docket for next legislative session.

Read more below about each of these two options for solar in Nebraska.

How much can you save with solar?

Find out

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. You'll see a net return of almost $10,500 in 25 years if you pay up front. But it requires a significant up-front investment.

If you have equity in your home or good credit, you can get a solar loan or HELOC with an interest rate of 4% or less. It's like being able to start a business that is sure to succeed, just by having a roof. Read about loans below.

If you've got cash and you prefer to pay up front, you'll have to plunk down $26,840. But by the end of year 1, incentives and energy savings will erase a bunch of it. Over 25 years, your system will have produced about $10,500 in income. Solar offsets enough of your energy bill to save you about $916 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 pencil out when you pay up front for a 8.8-kW rooftop solar system:

  • Installing a typical 8.8-kW solar system should start at about $26,840. 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 Feds calculate their incentive based on actual out of pocket costs, so take 26% of $26,840, for a tax credit of $6,978. Your total investment is now down to just $19,862.
  • After the tax credit we subtract your first year’s energy savings, which we estimate to be $916. That reduces your cost after the first year to only $18,939.
  • Your system will pay for itself in just 6 years, and over its 25-year life, you'll see a total net profit of $10,519. The internal rate of return for this investment is a stupendous 3.5%!
  • And don't forget... your home's value just increased by around $10,700, too (the next present value of your invesment in solar)!
  • 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 343 trees a year, every year your solar power system is humming.
Keep in mind, the numbers above are based on an average home in Nebraska. 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 the USA, using a loan to pay for solar earns you a big tax break. Your tax savings will be huge in the first year—more than enough to offset the small difference between the loan payments and electric bill savings. That means you'll be able to reap the savings now and pay over time whle your energy bill savings cover some of the cost of the loan.

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

  • You can qualify for a solar loan or home-equity line of credit (HELOC) for $26,840, with a fixed rate of 4% 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 a Nebraska solar purchase with a loan:

  • Installing a typical 8.8-kW solar system should start at about $26,840. 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 $916, but your annual loan payments will be $2,464, meaning you would spend $1,547 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 a tax credit, which in this case is $6,978 You'll be paying over time but getting all the benefits up front!
  • The electricity savings will continue for 25 years, while your loan payments will last only 15. By the end of the 25-year life of your panels, you'll come out $401 ahead. Not a sterling investment, but it works out if your a staunch environmentalist.
  • On top of the green that will stay in your pocket, your system will mean green for the environment, too. 343 trees-worth, every year!
Keep in mind, the numbers above are based on an average home in Nebraska. 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)

Nebraska does not offer solar Power Purchase Agreements or leases. Perhaps it would be a good idea to contact a solar advocacy organization and ask them to fight for solar in your state!

How much can you save with solar?

Find out

Nebraska 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 Nebraska:

Nebraska's Renewable Portfolio Standard

None

Grade: F

Nebraska's Renewable Portfolio Standard grade

A Renewables Portfolio Standard (“RPS”) requires utilities in the state to eventually source at least a certain percentage of their electricity from clean, renewable sources like solar panels.

An RPS would be critical to strong renewable energy policy in Nebraska. 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 would aid your transition to lower electric bills and offer you incentives to put solar on your roof would be if the state forces them to. Without an RPS, utilities have little incentive to help homeowners go solar.

Learn more about Renewable Portfolio Standards

Nebraska's Solar carve-out and SRECs

None

Grade: F

Nebraska's Solar Carve-out grade

The best states for solar mandate that a certain percentage of the RPS comes directly from solar energy. Without a mandatory RPS in Nebraska, this is another area that falls short. If an RPS contains specific carve-outs for clean and efficient technologies like solar panels, or mandates for environmentally necessary increases in distributed generation, you see even stronger incentives for residential solar power.

Learn more about Solar Carve-outs

Nebraska Electricity Prices

$0.11/kWh

Grade: D

Nebraska's Electricity cost grade

Nebraska pays an average of a 11 cents per kilowatt-hour(kWh) for electricity. That’s quite a bit lower than the national average of 13.6 cents. We know you love paying low bills for electricity, but there’s a big reason why energy is so cheap. It’s because most of our electricity still comes from burning millions of tons of fossil fuels.

The cost of those fossil fuels in dollars and cents may be low (for now), but the environmental costs are astronomically high. New regulations on carbon emissions and dwindling supplies will likely drive the cost up over the next few decades. But while everyone else is paying through the nose for the fuels of the past, you’ll be rocking that sweet, shiny solar power system on your roof, and making money! Just remember to thank us.

Find out why electricity prices matter

Nebraska Net Metering

Statewide

Grade: D

Nebraska'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.

Nebraska requires all electric utilities to offer something called "net metering," but it doesn't meet the full definition of the term. All monthly surplus energy production (also called "net excess generation, or NEG") is applied as a credit to your next bill at whatever the utility decides is fair. Net metering is available for all solar power systems up to 25 kW in capacity on a first-come first-serve basis until net-metered systems reach a total of 1% of a utility’s peak electricity demand during the previous year.

Unfortunately, that leaves Nebraskans without a clear picture of how much they can save with solar. NEG varies from month to month, and is usally high in the summer and non-existant in the winter. In a state with full net metering, that ebb-and-flow allows you to size your solar system to meet your full annual usage and simply save credit for the excess until you need it. In Nebraska, you've got to size your system just right to be economical.

Luckliy, the experts at system sizing are the installers we know. If you're in Lincoln, Omaha, or anywhere else, connect with solar installers near you to see how much you could save with solar!

Learn more about net metering

Nebraska Interconnection Rules

None

Grade: C

Nebraska's Interconnection Standards grade

The Cornhusker state has interconnection standards, but they're... not amazing. Nebraska's Interconnection rules require system owners to pay for interconnection equipment (other than a net meter), and interconnection is guaranteed only for systems up to 25 kW.

On the plus side, according to the rules, utilities "may not require a customer-generator to... (p)urchase additional liability insurance if all safety and interconnection requirements are met." So you've got that going for you.

In plain English, you're probably fine here. Let your installer take care of the utility company paperwork and understand that a small fraction of your final cost for the system will be from fees incurred to perform the interconnection. We'd prefer a more robust standard here, but what Nebraska offers is enough to guarantee you'll be able to hook into the power grid with your solar system.

Learn more about solar interconnection rules

Nebraska 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 Nebraska 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.

Nebraska Solar Power Rebates

None

Grade: C

Nebraska's Solar Rebates grade

Like we said, no RPS almost always means no big cash incentives to support solar power. That’s generally the here, too. Lincoln Electric used to offer a small rebate program, but as of 2018, it appears to be over.

We hate to harp on a point, but let’s do it anyway. An RPS is the most efficient and effective way to kickstart strong utility-backed incentives! Utility-backed, i.e., paid for by the utilities. That’s a win-win so far as lawmakers in Lincoln and Nebraskan homeowners are concerned, right?

Learn more about solar rebates

Nebraska Solar Tax Credits

$0.0005/kWh for 10 years

Grade: D

Nebraska's Solar Tax Credits grade

We’ll give credit where credit is due. The state legislature’s hearts are in the right place by passing a tax credit to support renewable energy. Unfortunately effort is about all lawmakers get credit for here, because the credit is so small as to be nearly meaningless. From 2013 on, Nebraskans get .05 cents ($.0005) per kilowatt-hour of electricity they produce. How much does that come out to in a year? You can look forward to a state tax credit of about $3.41 a year. Thanks, we guess?

Learn more about state solar tax credits

Property Tax Exemption

Statewide, large systems only

Grade: A

Nebraska's Solar Property Tax Exemptions grade

Nebraska has a property tax exemption for solar facilities, but they must be greater than 100-kW in size, which eliminates pretty much all residential installations. Well, if you live in one of these mansions you might be able to cram 100 kW of panels up there.

Sales Tax Exemption

None

Grade: F

Nebraska's Solar Sales Tax Exemption grade

A sales tax exemption would save you 5.5% up-front ($1,100 on the sort of average 5kW residential system we use in our example below). We think both exemptions should be passed asap, of course, but the property tax exemption in particular is a sensible way to save you tons of cash without ever withdrawing a single penny from the state’s coffers. Oh but hey, you can get a sales tax refund if you spend $20,000,000 on a solar installation.

Learn more about tax exemptions for solar

Low-income Solar Programs

None

Grade: F

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

The consensus on Nebraska solar power rebates and incentives

It’s about time for Nebraska to get with the program on solar energy. One small utility offering tiny incentives is not enough. The state’s agricultural base needs clean power to survive. So does its wealth of cultural and natural history. Legislators have to step up to the plate or ride off into the sunset. Nebraska has beautiful wide-open spaces, so let’s fill the legislative open space with solar power incentives.

Again, if you are confused about how these numbers work and would like some personalized assistance or a quote of your own, simply connect with our network of solar experts. They’ll help sort out all the pricing, get you access to special deals, and they’re super friendly to boot!

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Dean
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Dean

Come on Ricketts get on board!!!

Mike
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Mike

Just looked over LB424 in regards to property tax exemption for PVs. It states that they are exempt with a “…nameplate capacity of one hundred kilowatts or more.” Does this mean normal residential PV systems with a capacity of 10kW or less will not be exempt?

Blake
Guest
Blake

Nebraska has actually granted property tax exemptions on several sources of renewable energy production, including photovoltaic cells, as per LB 424! Looks like this site hasn’t been updated since it was passed in 2015. Here’s the full text of the bill. The relevant section is underlined on page 3. http://nebraskalegislature.gov/FloorDocs/104/PDF/Slip/LB424.pdf

Joe Haack
Guest
Joe Haack

I’m very interested in solar panels for our home but it probably is a little pricey right now. I have to say that your site is wonderful, though. Whoever designed and wrote it does a great job of breaking things down in a clear manner with some nice humor sprinkled in. Here’s to solar becoming more popular and feasible!

Ben Zientara
Admin

Thanks, Joe! Here’s hoping Nebraska can get its act together soon. But even if they don’t prices are falling fast all around the country, and with the Federal tax credit in place for another few years, we’re thinking solar will be a good deal in Nebraska in just a couple years! Stay tune for more info around December of 2016.

Thanks again,
Ben

Sw
Guest
Sw

What the infofrmation on this site does not clarify is that Nebraska operates public power utilities. The utilities are not owned by

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

Just checked with my utility company in Nebraska. They do not pay retail on their net metering. They pay wholesale. They explained the law was changed before final passage. Need to upgrade their score to reflect this. I have been waiting for a year to get them to let me net meter. They keep delaying. I did start getting anti wind and solar mailing after inquiring. I wonder who gave them my name???

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

SolarCon Renewables of Omaha will be hosting the screening of the documentary ‘The Future of Energy: Lateral Power to the People’ on Thursday, May 29th in conjunction with SunEdison. “The Future of Energy: Lateral Power to the People is a positive, fun film that focuses on energy solutions and the people behind the renewable energy revolution. It’s a love story about people re-imagining their relationship to the planet, and falling back in love with the Earth and each other. The film features several inspiring political leaders including the Mayor of Greensburg, KS, a town powered by 100% wind energy, and… Read more »

JohnL
Guest
JohnL

I note a couple of comments about corruption in the Unicameral but I don’t see any basis for the innuendos, unlike some such as Illinois where it’s a way of life. The state has public power districts which can’t initiate incentives without legislative approval and the state is very conservative fiscally, enough so that the general feeling seems to be that net metering is a good step but subsidies for environmental issues are a different matter. We have two nuclear plants in the state (one is still off-line as of Jan 2013) which is very good on a per capita… Read more »

Doug Rimington
Guest
Doug Rimington

Special Interests with fists of money corrupts our politicians to make poor choices. Iowa has strong incentives/tax credits for renewable energy, such as, ethanol, biodiesel, and wind energy. The Nebraska unicameral is very susceptible for corruption.

Charles
Guest
Charles

I love this site!
2011 and not much has changed, although Creighton has a solar program in downtown Omaha now. I am going to send this to our legislators to show them how behind Nebraska is. With Iowa and Nebraska being the top ethanol producing states, it is time to get on board with all alternative energies.

NSES
Guest
NSES

I am writing to let people know about the Nebraska Solar Tour coming up in NE on October 3rd. It is part of the National Solar Tour, and will be a chance for people to tour energy efficient buildings and see renewable energy generation equipment in operation and visit with the owners of the equipment about their experiences with it. The tour is being put together by the Nebraska Solar Energy Society, http://www.nebraskases.org, a non-profit education and research based group. The tour is free! Please come to the tour and show your support of solar in NE, as well as… Read more »

NSES
Guest
NSES

Ne got a net metering law passed this spring. Check the NE Energy Office for details
402-471-2867. http://www.neo.gov

http://www.nebraskases.org posted this

Murray
Guest
Murray

http://unicameralupdate.blogspot.com/2009/05/renewable-energy-metering-passes.html

Finally Nebraska has a Net Metering Law, our installers in Lincoln NE were very excited to see this, now if there were any real incentives from the NE Legislature.

Tim
Guest
Tim

This web page needs to be updated. NPPD finally passed a net metering rider in Sep 2008. http://www.dsireusa.org/library/includes/printincentive.cfm?incentive_code=NE06R

Basically from solar you get about $0.08/kWh in the summer and $0.035/kWh in the winter.

As far as I know though OPPD still does not offer net metering :(

Jennifer
Guest
Jennifer

Can anyone tell me where I can purchase a system for my home in Nebraska?

pagoda
Guest
pagoda

an average cost of 54,000 is that a joke, perhaps we made a poor choice in moving here from new-mexico where our enviorment is a concern

Sarah
Guest
Sarah

Nebraska is so behind the times. The legislators make our state residents look like a bunch of idiots unconcerned about the environment. Alternate energy is a booming market and they are missing the bus.

JohnZap
Guest
JohnZap

When will the Nebraska legislatures get their heads out of their butts??
Or, the real question is when will the graft and payola be exposed and get Nebraska back into the 21st century when it comes to energy. Oh, and you thought only in New York and New Jersey are there payoffs?

RL
Guest
RL

Sounds like Nebraska legislators are really plugged into those coal burning generators and not interested in the 21st century .Too bad it could be an industry for employment insted of a welfare state. Am I crazy ????

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