Your 2019 guide to getting solar panels for your home in Nevada
This page is a complete guide to the complicated and sometimes confusing process of installing solar panels on your Nevada 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!
** What's new for 2019 **
Oh Nevada, land of just a little bit of everything; skiing, deserts, mountains, lakes, the annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering, and oh yeah, Reno and Vegas. With all those lights keeping Vegas turned on, Nevada needs lots of electricity. That kind of demand calls for piles of nice, clean, renewable, solar power.
Good thing your citizens know how to fight for renewable energy!
With the recent reinstatement of something resembling an awesome net metering program, home solar in Nevada is back in business! You can purchase a solar system with cash or a loan, and see a good return on your investment over 25 years. Read on to find out how to make solar work for you in Nevada!
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 Nevada solar incentives you see below.
The Solar Strategy section is focused on the 3 ways of paying for solar in Nevada, 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 Nevada. 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 Nevada.
Click any of the boxes below to go to that section of the page, or scroll down to read the page in order.
|Your Nevada Solar Strategy|
|Comparing Solar Investment Options|
|Paying Cash for Solar in Nevada|
|Solar Loans in Nevada|
|Solar PPAs in Nevada|
|Solar Purchase Payback Time in Nevada|
|Nevada Solar Policy Information|
|Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS)|
|RPS Solar Carve-Out|
Your Solar Strategy in Nevada
Figuring out the best way to go solar in Nevada 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 to pay for solar panels in Nevada
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 of 2016, net metering is back in Nevada, and you'll get compensated at 95% of the retail rate for any excess energy your system produces.
In the chart above, we've examined three scenarios for going solar here, including paying with cash up front, getting a loan for a 5-kW syatem, and getting a loan for a 2-kW system. The returns on solar here are pretty great with net metering back in place. Read more below about each of the three options for solar in Nevada.
Option 1: Paying cash for solar
An outright purchase used to be the only way to get solar, but with new low-interest solar loans, it;s better to finance than to pay up front. Check out the return on a solar loan to get a good idea of why that's a better option.
If you have the cash and you really want to spend it now, buying solar here will result in a modest return on your investment. Panels generally come with a 25-year warranty and performance guarantees, and in Nevada, they'll save you enough in electricity costs over that period to result in nearly $19,000 in profit. That's quite a bit better than you might do by investing in stocks, because of NPV.
Here’s how the numbers work for a 5-kW rooftop solar system in Nevada:
- Installing a typical 5-kW solar system should start at about $16,762 after NV Energy's rebate.
- The Federal government offers a great income tax credit of 30% of system costs (after rebate). That's $5,029 you won't be paying to Uncle Sam this year, and it brings your first-year investment down to $11,733.
- After that tax credit, we subtract your first year’s energy savings, which we estimate to be $920. That reduces your cost after the first year to only $10,813—a savings of about 35% off the cost of your system. That's a huge cost reduction!
- Your electricity savings will slowly add up, and your system will pay for itself in year 11. But your panels carry 25-year warranties, and they'll likely keep on kicking out kilowatts for a few decades or more. You'll see a total net profit of $19,085 by the end of that warranty. The internal rate of return for this investment is 10.1%; better than putting your money in an index fund, which typically sees about 8% returns.
- In addition to that cash, you’ve created some green for the earth as well by not using electricity from fossil fuels. It's like planting 130 trees a year, every year your solar power system is humming.
Keep in mind, the numbers above are based on an average home in Nevada. 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
Well that's a nice chart, mostly becasue it starts with a big profit. You start out that windfall because you'll be paying over time for the panels but you get the 30% federal tax credit at the end of year 1.
A solar purchase like this makes better sense in Nevada than paying up front, because you can take advantage of the tax benefits now, and pay over time while your solar panels save you money! All told, getting a loan to pay for solar in Nevada is quite a bit better than investing in the stock market.
Here’s how the numbers pencil out for a 5-kW solar purchase with a loan in Nevada:
- Installing a typical 5-kW solar system should start at about $16,762 after NV Energy's rebate. That's how big your loan will need to be to cover it.
- Between using some solar electricity and selling some back to NV Energy, you'll save $921 on your utility bill this year. But the loan payments on your system will be $1,539, meaning your net cost is $618, but then...
- You'll get the federal tax credit of 30% of system costs, for the whole price of the system after rebate. That's $5,029 back, meaning you'll come out $4,411 ahead after year 1.
- Each year after the first, your energy bill savings will offset some of you loan payments. Once the loan is paid off after year 15, you'll be saving over $1,200 for the rest of your system's 25-year warranty.
- According to our 25-year estimate, you'll end up with $12,765 in profit, which isn't so bad for an investment that requires no money down.
- The good news is your system will mean green for the environment—130 trees-worth, every year! That might be enough to make you happy, but there are far more cost-effective ways to save the planet.
Keep in mind, the numbers above are based on an average home in Nevada. 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)
Nevada 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!
Nevada 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 Nevada:
Nevada's Renewable Portfolio Standard
25% by 2025
Nevada should pat itself on the back. It already had one of the most aggressive renewable portfolio standards (RPS) in the country—and with a solar carve out to boot—but its citizens voted in 2018 to take the first big step toward doubling that requirement to 50% by 2032! Currently, the state is required to source at least 25% of its power from renewables by 2025, but given that vote and new pro-solar governor Steve Sisolak, we're pre-emptively awarding an A here in anticipation that the RPS increase that everyone seems to want will come to fruition.
Nevada's RPS solar carve out
1.5% by 2025
Additionally, 6% of that 25% (or 1.5% of total sales) needs to come from solar by 2025. If not, utilities get slapped with sizable fees. That’s a huge reason why there’s so much solar installed in the state.
However, much of the compliance has come from huge solar businesses who have secured land lease deals in the desert to build solar power plants so the utilities can hit their numbers.
Luckily, the RPS now contains a distributed generation requirement stipulating that half of the 25% renewable target must come from residential customer service locations. This means Nevada utility companies should be much more willing to offer solar power rebates to middle-class homeowners instead of millionaire land development moguls.
Nevada Electricity Prices
Electricity is relatively cheap in Nevada at $0.12/kWh. That’s a little too cheap for our liking, as there could be more done to roll in the actual costs to the environment to polluting energy sources such as coal and natural gas. Once those costs get accounted for, the average Nevada electric rate may increase to the point where solar panels on homes in the state pencil out at more parity with the electric grid.
Nevada Net Metering
The fight to ensure strong net metering rules for Nevada has been long and complex. Basically, the state used to have excellent net metering rules, but in late 2015, the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN) voted to amend net metering, allowing NV Energy to increase monthly service charges by 300% on solar homeowners while at the same time paying 82% less for the energy their panels generate.
The people of Nevada, joined by solar-loving groups from around the country, fought against the PUC ruling, and vowed to vote to remove any politician who stood in the way of net metering's return. In November, 2016, voters elected solar-friendly candidates to both the house and senate. Governor Sandoval (himself up for reelection in 2018) said he wanted to work together to bring back sensible solar policy. Finally, in mid-2017, the Nevada legislature passed AB 405, restoring net metering for all residential customers.
The new net metering law, while not perfect, guarantees solar bill credits at very-near retail rates for the next 20 years. All NV Energy customers who install solar are eligible to sign up for net metering at a set percentage of retail cost for 20 years. The percentages decline as more solar is added to the grid. They started at 95% of retail in 2017, and have declined twice since.
As of mid-2019, homeowners who install solar can sign up to receive 81% of the retail cost of purchasing electricity back for any extra power they send to the grid. The new net metering rules provide a compelling reason to go solar as soon as possible. The first two 80-MW tiers are fully subscribed, and the third is in full swing. By 2020, tier 4 will be in effect and the excess energy credit will drop to 75% of retail electricity cost.
At the end of your 20-year contract, you'll be able to sign up for whatever program NV Energy offers (though by then, home energy storage will likely be so inexpensive that it will be easier to install a battery and use all the energy yourself).
Nevada Interconnection Rules
Getting a solar system up on the grid in Nevada is not too difficult, given NV Energy's reasonably streamlined interconnection process. There are no large costs or extended wait times associated with interconnection here, and your installer should be able to take care of everything with regards to paperwork, inspection, etc.
Solar Incentives in Nevada
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 30% 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 Nevada 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.
Nevada Solar Power Rebates
Battery storage only (Solar rebates fully subscribed)
NV energy has had, shall we say, a spotty history of supporting home solar power. The latest is that as of June 5th, 2019, NV Energy has suspended its solar rebate program. Read about it here.
The utility is still offering battery storage incentives, at a rate of $.11 or $.22 per watt-hour of storage capacity. At that rate, the average 14-kWh Tesla Powerwall home battery installation would net you a rebate of $1,540 or $3,080, again based on your rate plan. Those dollar amounts represent about 10% or 20% of the total installed costs of the batteries, respectively.
Nevada Solar Tax Credits
No State Income Tax
Since Nevada doesn’t have any income tax, there aren’t any solar tax credits to redeem! However, you Nevadans still benefit from the 30% Federal Solar Tax Credit. There's no cap on the federal tax credit and the policy was recently granted an eight year extension. Sample calculations follow below -- keep scrolling!
Nevada Solar Performance Payments
Every solar installation in the state earns a special kind of financial benefit for its owner called Portfolio Energy Credits (PECs). Systems that were installed before December 31st, 2015, earned 2.4 PECs each time the system has generated 1 kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity. The PECs can be sold to utility company for cash. Sadly, systems installed in 2016 and beyond earn only 1 PEC per kWh.
PECs might seem complicated, but they are worth learning about, because it can mean hundreds of dollars in income every year for you. PECs have value because utility companies need to meet their renewable energy goals under Nevada's RPS law, and if they don't, they have to pay a big fine. In order to meet those goals, they purchase PECs as proof of renewable generation.
Each PEC sells for a couple pennies, which might not sound like a lot, but it adds up. A typical 5-kW system will earn you a little less than 7,800 PECs in a year, which translates to about $187 for you. And since the RPS goals are in place until 2025 (unless they're extended and increased!), you can count on some income until then.
That means your PECs could be worth over $1,600 to you over the next 10 years. Unfortunately, if you choose to keep and sell your PECs, you won't be eligible for NV Energy's RenewableGenerations rebate program. And although the PECs might be worth a little more over time, the rebate is cold hard cash right now.
Property Tax Exemption
100% for solar farms only
While Nevada is kind enough to grant property tax exemptions to commercial and industrial solar installations, homeowners are still expected to pony up the dough for the increased value of the home after solar installation.
Sales Tax Exemption
Same story here. Nevada grants sales tax incentives to large-scale (we’re talking 10MW big) solar installations, but none for you. We would like to see a sales tax exemption on residential systems in Nevada like many other states have enacted. We’ll wait and see on that.
The consensus on Nevada solar power rebates and incentives
Nevada is well on its way to building a solar power market. While the previous focus had entirely been on utility scale solar installations, there are now compelling reasons for all homeowners in the state to explore solar power as a worthy home investment.
Governor Brian Sandoval can urge the legislature to consider a state residential solar tax credit, implement a smaller scale solar distributed generation program as part of the state’s RPS, and add a solar sales tax exemption for homeowners.
Doing these things would create many more jobs in the state and go a long way toward turning the local economy around.
With all that sunshine in Nevada, it can be done. We’re waiting patiently to improve your grade even further.
In the meantime, we urge you to still get a personalized solar quote so you can see how the numbers pencil out for you.