Understanding Laws in Reno Area
What you can do with your Nevada solar panels is dependent on laws and regulations within your state. Solar regulations can either make or break your solar plans.
Going Off-grid in Nevada
Often when people think of solar they assume this means they can be completely free of the grid. Although solar does free customers of an electric bill, most choose to stay connected to the grid.
Complications of Off-grid Solar
Turning your home into a self-sustained power plant is a great idea. The execution, however, is limited. This is due to a couple of things. first, it is cheaper to continue using the grid than it is to disconnect from it. Secondly, it is easier to stay connected even if you have solar batteries.
This is why most people, even those with backup, stay connected to the grid. Most have found that the off-grid lifestyle isn’t worth the price. There are, however, individuals that are willing to do whatever it takes.
Legal Off-grid Solar in Nevada
In order to make living off-grid legal, you need to jump through several hoops. These hoops are called permits. Unfortunately, permits are hard to get, expensive, and there are a lot of them.
It is, however, easier to get permits for off-grid solar if your home is further away from the city. For instance, if you have a cabin that is far away or hard to get power lines to it is easier to get off-grid solar. In fact, it may even be cheaper or at least comparative to the cost of extending the grid to your home.
The National Electric Code Vs. Nevada’s Current Electrical Code
Because solar generates and transports electricity it has to follow national electric code (NEC). The problem is that not every state uses the same electric code.
Although the national code was updating in 2017, it may not be applicable to the state you live in. In order to install solar for your Nevada home, you need to know the excepted electrical code.
The Current National Electric Code
Every three years the national electric code is updated. This allows for advances in technology and problems with past codes to be accounted for. These codes are quite extensive and apply to a wide range of things that are related to or use electricity.
Nevada and the NEC 2011
Although the NEC 2017 was put into effect on January 01, 2019, it didn’t affect every state. These codes are highly tested suggestions by professionals in the field. It isn’t until a state implements the code that it becomes law and is enforced.
Nevada hasn’t upgraded their code since the NEC 2011. And, according to the national fire protection association, they aren’t planning on updating.
Because Nevada still uses the NEC 2011, installers are only required to follow these codes. However, to avoid confusion, most Nevada solar installers stay up-to-date with the current NEC.
Solar Panel Rapid Shutdown in Nevada
The last major change made in the national electric code was the change to the automatic off switch in 2017. Before, it was required that the switch turn off the power at the inverter.
Use of Rapid Shutdown in Emergencies
This was to prevent solar power from harming linemen working on the grid during an outage. This, however, doesn’t take into account that solar is still being produced by the solar panels. Although normally not an issue, it could be if a first responder was only able to enter the home through the roof.
Rapid Shutdown and Firefighters
The NEC 2017 now accounts for this possible problem. It mandates that power is shut off at the panel when the automatic shut-off switch is applied. All conductors within a foot of the array are required to reduce to 80 volts or less within 30 seconds.
NV Energy Solar Program: Solar Generations
Along with Nevada’s net metering policy, NV Energy has a solar rebate. This rebate is divided into two categories. These include the Expected Performance Based Buy Down (EPBB) and the Production Based Incentive.
The NV Energy Expected Performance Based Buy Down
Up-front incentives are offered for solar panels that generate up to 25 kilowatts. This incentive pays utility customers $0.20 per watt.
At $0.20 a watt a 6,000 watt or 6-kilowatt system would earn $1,200 from this incentive. In exchange, NV Energy takes ownership of the energy credits associated with the array.
The Production Based Incentive
If you have a system that is over 25 kilowatts you are offered a production based incentive. This incentive pays customers $0.0250 per kilowatt hour over a maximum of five years.
If this was applied to a 6 kilowatt system like before is would earn $150 in the first year. By the end of the 5th year, your system would have earned $750.
This is drastically less than what would have been earned through the performance-based incentive, which is why it is only applied to larger systems.
Thankfully, most residential solar installations are under 10 kilowatts, meaning they qualify for the performance-based incentive.
CEC Approved Equipment List
To ensure the highest incentive amount, you need to purchase approved solar equipment. There is an approved California Energy Commission equipment list for modules and inverters. These lists change, so it is best to check them right before you purchase the system to ensure it is up to date.
Getting solar in Nevada is not only a good option it is a great one. The current solar policies not only support solar, but they promote it.