A home solar electric system may seem a bit daunting for many homeowners due to its upfront cost, but the tax incentives and long-term power savings it offers more than offsets the investment after a fair amount of time. In the larger scheme of things, the decrease in a household’s carbon footprint becomes a significant contribution to help the planet’s problem with climate change.
An Ideal City for Solar Panels
Since the Las Vegas weather allows residents to enjoy sunlight at an average of 300 days per year, the solar panels’ photovoltaic (PV) cells, the special batteries that harness sunlight and transform it into energy, allow the system to work efficiently in most Las Vegas residential areas. To further support this, just this year, the City of Las Vegas celebrated the inauguration of 15,000 new solar panels to generate power for a waste management facility.
Investing in solar power is clearly a path currently undertaken by the city, as Mayor Carolyn Goodman declared the said facility’s solar project as just one of the many large-scale plans geared towards sustainability, renewable energy, recycling, and waste management efficiency in Las Vegas.
As a general guide, the house’s roof where the solar panels are installed works best when receiving direct sunlight during the time of day when sunlight is at its strongest. This peak time is usually between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
According to Forbes, the city’s insolation, which refers to the amount of solar radiation reaching the ground during a given period of time on a specific region, makes a solar-powered home in Las Vegas more efficient compared to other cities like that of Chicago.
Forbes adds that the price of solar panels has already dropped about 60 percent since 2011. To date, the national average upfront cost now amounts to about $17,000, inclusive of a number of federal and local tax credits, subsidies, rebates, and incentives provided to homeowners.
Both residential and commercial properties with solar-powered installations can enjoy 30 percent tax credit until the end of 2016 through the federal solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC).
The local tax incentives for solar systems vary by state. In the case of Las Vegas, those with installed solar panels in their homes can take advantage of the Property Tax Abatement found in Nevada Senate Bill 426.According to Solar Power Rocks Nevada, a renewable energy installation increases home value by about 20 times — and this is a tax-free increase. The property tax exemption states that any value added by a home solar system will not be included in the assessed value of the property. This means that the property tax will not increase.
In Nevada, the Portfolio Energy Credits (PEC’s) serves as a form of potential income generated by a local’s solar system. This provides credits issued by the Public Utility Commission of Nevada so that the homeowner can earn a certain amount for every kilowatt-hour of electricity made by the solar system.
Any customer of NV Energy with a solar-powered home is eligible to apply for the NV Energy Solar Generations Program, which allots a certain amount of money every year to give out as solar rebates for customers. After the acceptance of rebate applications, a lottery will determine those who will be awarded rebates, which can be anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Drawing out names will continue until all the rebate funds get used up for the year.
Buying or Leasing?
Deciding whether to buy or lease a home solar panel system primarily depends on a homeowner’s available funds and intended monthly and yearly savings.The benefits of the leasing option include defraying the high price tag of the system and the leasing company will also usually pay for the repairs and maintenance of the system. Meanwhile, the benefits of buying a permanent installation for the home include taking advantage of more tax credits and incentives and the added value of the home for resale.
Locals can also take into consideration the low-interest loans available for investing in the system. It is worth noting though, that going solar may possibly raise the homeowner’s insurance premium.