In 2021, the Cornhusker State announced that it had a renewable production goal of 100% by 2050, a positive step for solar energy. However, this mandate didn’t come from state legislation. In a surprising twist, homeowners might have to rely on their utility companies to save money on solar panels in Nebraska.
So how do you wrap your head around all this? In this article, we break down Nebraska’s solar incentives and where you should look to find them. Let’s get started.
How to Save Money on Solar Panels in Nebraska: Overview
Considering the cost of solar panels in Nebraska, homeowners might have a tough time getting past high equipment rates and already low electricity bills. And with a lack of state-level support, there are not many ways to drop that installation cost. Still, Nebraskans that are interested in reducing their carbon footprint have a few options to make solar work in the Cornhusker State.
Generally, homeowners have a variety of opportunities that come in the form of federal incentives, state financial benefits, and government regulations. However, Nebraska is a special state that sees more initiative from utility companies than state legislation. Let’s take a look at what incentives exist for Nebraskans.
Solar Panels in Nebraska: Federal Incentive
First and foremost, homeowners in the Cornhusker State can rely on the federal solar tax credit to help lower their installation costs. This program returns 30% of all solar purchases, which include equipment, labor, and even sales tax. Nebraskans that purchase a 6kW system can lower their installation cost by over $5,000.
However, not everyone can use this benefit. To receive your tax credit from the federal government, you have to own the system, either outright or via loan. Additionally, it’s essential that you live at the residence in which the panels are installed. This complicates things in a state that promotes community solar projects (more on this below).
Additionally, you should be aware of the timeframe in which this program lasts. Homeowners can take full advantage of the federal return until 2032 when it starts to taper off. It’ll drop down to 26% in 2033 and 22% in 2034. The federal program ends in 2035 unless it’s extended.
Nebraska’s State Credits and Rebates
In many states, residents have access to a variety of financial incentives that come in the form of state tax credits or municipal rebates. Unfortunately, Nebraska is not one of those states. However, utility companies such as the Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) are beginning to push for renewables without state support. This could lead to future equipment rebates so long as you connect to the power grid.
For now, you can apply for net metering, which requires utility companies to pay homeowners for excess solar energy. It’s not a great system in Nebraska; the companies get to dictate how much you’re paid each month, which could leave you high and dry in the winter. Still, a small win is a win in the end.
Solar Panels in Nebraska: Government Regulations
This is where things get weird in the Cornhusker State; the legislation in Nebraska offers virtually no support and has no standards for renewable energy. This lack of RPS leads us to believe that there are no future plans for solar investment.
Uniquely, however, utility companies are setting their own renewable standards. The NPPD, which is the largest power company in Nebraska, approved a goal to achieve 100% carbon-free power generation by 2050.
While this doesn’t necessarily focus on solar energy, the company is working on its strategy, which should be finalized by 2025. Therefore, you can expect to see glimpses of considerations, such as incentives, power purchase agreements, and better net metering rates in the next few years.
Should Nebraskans Lease Solar?
Some states in the country allow homeowners the option to lease a solar panel array. While it disqualifies the system from many incentives, including the federal solar tax credit, it makes for an affordable way to reduce your carbon footprint without breaking the bank.
Unfortunately, the Cornhusker State does not allow for solar leasing, preferring to keep arrays in the control of municipalities. But don’t fret; if you’re set on utilizing solar energy, Nebraska puts most of its weight on community-based renewables.
Those that invest in a community solar garden can still have access to net metering and power purchasing depending on the utility company. And while it disqualifies everyone from federal incentives, there are plenty of benefits to participating in one of these projects. Some of the motivations include sales tax on equipment as well as on property purchases.
Solar Panels in Nebraska: Incentive Summary
|Federal Tax Incentive||30% credit|
|State Tax Credits / Rebates||None / none|
|Renewable Portfolio Standard||100% carbon-free by 2050 (NPPD)|
|Property Tax Exemption||None|
|Sales Tax Exemption||None|
|Performance Payment Program||None|
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