Cost of Utah Solar Panel Installations in 2018
As the new year starts, Utah’s 2018 solar panel costs have changed in some respects. In order to find exact costs, you will want to get a couple of quotes and decide which option is best for you.
If you want to have a better idea of what solar is going to cost, you will want to take a look at three different aspects. These include, but are not limited to, considering what it means when an ad says panels are free, what incentives exist to fund solar, and how net metering and battery backup will affect your solar array.
Utah’s ‘Free’ Solar Panels
One of the biggest miscommunications is that solar panels are free. Unfortunately, there aren’t many things in the world worth having that are free. If you see an ad that advertises their panels as free, it’s a hoax. There’s a difference between something being free and being accessible for zero money down, the latter of these two being the accurate claim.
Here’s the real kicker, though: Solar panels are not free. They are better than free, because they save money over time, as any good investment would.
Home Depot Free Solar Panels
Why can’t these compete with the best solar companies in Utah? Well, because the offer doesn’t actually exist. If you have been told that Home Depot has free solar panels, you may want to take a deeper look. When it comes down to the granular details, you will find that these panels are actually being leased to you.
To know how this differs from buying, check out our post on residential solar buying vs leasing. Unlike buying solar panels for Utah homes, leasing the panels themselves is not a good investment, as it usually involves a power purchase agreement.
In this program, you are given a discounted rate on the energy that is used from a solar system that has been mounted on your home at no cost to you. You will, however, still be paying for the energy that you use from this system.
Free Solar Panels From the Government? Avoid It — It’s a Scheme
If you are thinking getting panels for free from the government is too good to be true, you are correct in that assumption. Although there are government programs in place that make solar an affordable option, it is not free.
This confusion emerges, again, because of a misunderstanding. The misunderstanding is that customers don’t have to make a down payment for their system, which doesn’t mean that its free. Sure, you can go solar for zero down, but it isn’t free. Knowing about these incentives and how they actually work will help you in your purchasing decision.
A good way to weed out the best solar companies in Utah from the worst ones is to examine the accuracy of their claims, and the lexicon on the free solar panels will help you understand whether a company has your best long-term interest at heart or is merely trying to get a quick exchange out of their prospects before they discover the truth hidden in the lie.
Solar Panels Utah Incentives
Although solar panels are not free, Utah does have some incentives to help the average homeowner purchases renewable energy, which only strengthens the monetary gain to be made from the investment at hand. Although net metering has changed, it provides an easier inlet for battery backup, which is still subject to the federal tax credit in the state of Utah.
Utah Investment Tax Credit
The Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for 2018 is a 30 percent federal tax credit that can be applied to the homeowners income tax. This is probably the most substantial government assistance available right now.
With this tax credit, solar array prices are cut by thousands of dollars. This dollar-for-dollar reduction replaces what the person or company would normally owe the federal government
This incentive will step down to 26 percent in 2020 and 22 percent in 2021. If you are planning on getting solar after 2021, this tax credit will no longer be available.
Utah Production Tax Credit
The Production Tax Credit is a state tax credit that is put toward Utah citizens’ renewable energy purchases. Residential customers of 2018 can get up to $1,600 in credits toward taxes otherwise owed. As of right now, this tax credit is scheduled to decrease by $400 each year until 2020.
After net metering changed, a Utah proposal emerged to extend the credit, but there is no word yet on whether this credit will be modified.
Utah Net Metering Changes
As of November 2017, Rocky Mountain Power pivoted in traditional energy production’s favor, which could have potentially hurt solar customers. Thankfully, the solar industry and Utah residents that have solar spoke up before proposed changes elevated it to an even higher level of impact.
As a result, Utah’s net metering program has been changed to a transitional program. This is a program that Rocky Mountain Power is imposing for the next three years while further data is gathered to assess the best step for Utah’s solar industry moving forward.
Rocky Mountain Power Solar Buyback
Before the transitional program was put into effect, solar customers would get a credit for the extra energy they produced. Often called a 1:1 to net metering agreement, the old 1:1 to credit provided incentive for Utah homeowners to go solar by offering an at-the-real-cost-of-power return for the investment on energy stored or sent back to the grid.
The reserved/unused power they sent to the energy grid would be paid back to them in dollars at the full rate they would have otherwise paid for it without their solar panels. These credits have been changed to a dollar amount that is credited to the customers bill at the end of each month.
Whereas before, the average Utah homeowner would get this credit toward the customer’s bill at 100% of the retail electricity rate, it is now 90 percent of the retail price for power for which Utah homeowners will be credited.
So, over the span of a lifetime, this is why keeping as much of the energy your solar panels produce as possible in your court is the most financially viable thing to do. That’s why battery backup matters more now than ever before.
Rocky Mountain Power Net Metering Changes
However, for individuals getting solar, receiving a 90 percent return instead of 100 percent return isn’t really that big of a difference. The big change is that Rocky Mountain Power is now looking at how much energy is being put onto, and taken off of, the grid every 15 minutes.
For most people who work, they aren’t home during the day, which is when solar panels reach their peak electricity production — at least for solar arrays. Being monitored every 15 minutes instead of at the end of each month means that energy production in the evening may cost you more.
The good news is that you still get 100 percent of the energy that comes from your panels. If you plan your high-energy activities like dishes and laundry in the middle of the day during a lunch break, then these net metering changes won’t have that big of an effect on your power bill at the end of the month.
Rocky Mountain Power Net Metering Application
The net metering program has been changed to a ‘feed and tariff’ system. Rocky Mountain Power is calling it their Customer Generation program. There are three different applications. Which application you will need to fill out depends on the size of system you are getting.
If you are getting a system that is up to 25 Kilowatts (KW), then you will need to file a level one application. Most homes don’t need systems that are larger than 25 KWs.
If you go through a full-service solar company such as Go Solar Group, they will take care of all the paperwork for you. Getting your system through a full-service solar company gives customers the security of knowing everything is completed correctly.
Average Cost of Solar Panels in Utah
The average price for a solar system ends up being around twenty thousand, but the investment pays for itself and ends up saving $15,000 to $30,000. However, the cost of the system will vary from vendor to vendor and hinge on the kind of work your yard and rooftop need.
For instance, if you’re okay with it, a tree may need to be cut down or a different kind of inverter may need to be applied to your home, which will slightly skew the costs of going solar as well.
Is Solar Power Worth It in Utah?
At first solar may look like a very expensive option, but you have to compare it to your other available options. If you choose to continue relying on coal power, you’re locking yourself into exorbitant rates that will only increase with inflation over time.
Energy is a lifelong bill. If you pay on average $100 a month and it never increases, you would end up paying $24,000 to your electric company. If you decided to get financed for solar through Go Solar Group, you are no longer making payments after 12 to 15 years. You also start to see savings within the first couple of years.