What Are Nevada’s Biggest Solar Myths?
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Solar Energy is riddled with many myths and Nevada is not immune to these misconceptions about solar. Together, we’d like to tackle some of these myths and expose the truth behind them. Here are 11 solar energy myths in Nevada that if conquered, will make you energy wiser. Let’s get to the myth-busting.
Nevada Solar Myth #1 Giant Solar Corporations Are the Only Solar Authority in Nevada
When Nevadans think of solar, quite often, large companies like Tesla’s Solar City probably come to mind. This might be largely due to Tesla’s international appeal and state-of-the-art technology. Tesla is a highly recognizable brand that is sought after for its superior quality.
But while Tesla does have high-quality products, it’s important for Nevadans to know that other local companies have competitive quality as well. Taking a look at more than one solar company will allow you the options to compare quality products and best pricing. Knowing what to look for in a solar company is vital to picking the right one for your installation.
What Gives Nevada Solar Companies Authority?
For starters, industry validation and local reviews of a company are both good places to find out if they have authority. For Nevada, you can use Nevada solar reviews to help you see what companies have a great reputation in your area and which ones to steer clear from.
After you’ve assessed which companies service your area, it’s time to make sure they provide the quality necessary to move forward on a quote. Make sure that the companies you’re considering have all of the appropriate designations. If they don’t have these designations, this means that their quality of work is not held to the same high standard.
Nevada Solar Myth #2 NV Energy Is Anti-Solar
With the recent renewable energy struggle in Nevada, many may feel that NV Energy is against renewable energy altogether. Although it is true that NV Energy proposed rates in 2015 that hurt solar growth, they are not necessarily against renewable energy. The problem for NV Energy is not the source of the energy (renewable vs. non-renewable), but rather if they are the ones producing the energy or not.
NV Energy’s Stance On Renewable Energy
NV Energy is in fact very supportive of the renewable energy that they source themselves. In fact, they have 19 geothermal, 14 solar, and a dozen wind, biomass, hydro, and waste heat projects. These projects are helping make a difference to improve how Nevada is powered as an entire state.
In addition, now that new state regulations have been put into place, NV Energy is also playing fair with renewable energy competition. NV Energy’s net-metered customers received renewable energy incentives again in 2017, with the assurance that incentives won’t be taken away.
Nevada Solar Myth #3 Solar Is Good For Everyone In Nevada
As much as we would like solar to be assessable for everyone, currently for some people, direct purchase of a solar panel array isn’t a viable option. For Nevadans, there are two main reasons why solar may not work for you. Either you don’t qualify for the system or you live in an area with a utility that doesn’t allow net metering. Net metering is when you’re connected to the grid and have the availability to sell back your surplus energy to an energy company. Let’s dive a little deeper into these 2 reasons why solar might not be a great option for some people.
Qualifying For Solar
The federal solar tax credit decreases the price of solar panel installation and equipment by 30 percent. The keyword is “tax credit”. If you have taxable income to apply these credits toward, you can save thousands of dollars.
However, if you don’t have taxable income, the 30% credit you will miss out on can break the bank on your installation. It’s for this reason that solar companies tend to deter non-taxpayers from buying solar.
Some other considerations that hinder qualification are not having a high enough sun to space ratio, or if your roof isn’t structurally sound. This will tend to raise red flags for qualification. If you get your panels financed, you will also want to consider your credit score and how your debt-to-income ratio will affect your ability to qualify.
Check With Your Utility Provider about Net Metering
Although NV Energy powers most of Nevada, there are some other utility companies. One of these utility providers is a California utility called Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Co-Op. Since they have hit their energy goals they no longer allow new solar customers to get net metering.
You will want to make sure that your utility provider allows net metering before you decide to go forward with your solar energy solution. Making sure to consider this factor is extremely important if you’d like to offset some of your initial investment costs by selling back energy.
Nevada Solar Myth #4 I Should Wait Until Solar Technology Becomes More Efficient
One of the main concerns for many people is when they should invest in new solar energy technology. Although solar energy is constantly improving, it is always a good time to start now and reap the benefits of the technology that exists today.
Saving Now While You Wait For Better Tech
When you buy a solar array you are making an investment on a product that already saves you thousands of dollars. If you decide to wait to get into the benefits of solar energy, you’re prolonging your returns and paying unnecessary additional money to your utility company that you could be using to invest in your own energy. Every year that you wait to invest in your own solar energy, you are handing someone else money for their energy.
Better tech is already here. Investing in your own solar array now will actually allow you to have the extra cash necessary to get your completely futuristic solar system array in 25 years or so when it’s actually available.
Nevada Solar Myth #5 Solar Energy Hurts Birds
Although it is true that birds have been hurt by large solar power plants, not all solar options are harmful to birds. Knowing which types of solar infrastructures are actually harmful to birds, and to what extent, will help you decide in which capacity solar is right for you.
Different Types Of Solar Energy Harnessing and Their Impact
The type of solar energy that has had the most impact on bird populations is thermal solar. Thermal solar is powered by a tower filled with liquid that is heated by solar rays that are reflected onto it. Ivanpah’s Mojave Desert thermal solar plant killed 6,000 birds by collisions or immolation in just one year.
This occurred because the tower is so hot that it can kill or harm anything that touches it. These birds were attracted to the tower because of the reflected light.
Although Photovoltaic panels also “heat up”, they don’t cause death. In fact, when they are installed on pre-existing structures, such as your home, they don’t hurt wildlife at all; especially not like non-renewable resources harm wildlife. However, it is true that if developers don’t take proper precautions, large solar farms can disrupt wildlife habitat, as with any construction. This is not an excuse to avoid solar energy; it’s simply a cautionary fact moving forward toward more considerate solar construction solutions.
Nevada Solar Myth #6: Renewable Energy Can’t Compete With Fossil Fuels
If all you’re looking at is the price to construct renewable energy then yes it is quite expensive compared to fossil fuels. The cost, however, of construction is decreasing and this calculation does not take into effect the other ways in which we pay for non-renewable energy with our health and clean water.
When considering the renewable costs vs. non-renewable costs it would be wise to consider all factors where we pay indirectly for non-renewable decisions. We have already seen a dramatic increase in solar installations in the last 10 years. As these trends continue to move forward so will the revolution of renewable energy.
The Drive Behind Renewable Energy
For the average person, investing in solar energy is not viable without government incentives. As investment in solar energy increases, prices for this renewable source of energy will decrease, making it more affordable and readily available. This is the drive behind government subsidies for solar energy.
Nevada Solar Myth #7 Solar Panels Require Too Much Maintenance
Because panels don’t have many moving parts they are actually able to last for a pretty long time and maintenance is, in fact, minimal throughout the duration of their life.
Solar Array Maintenance
Maintenance on your system is minimal and includes making sure that panels aren’t shaded in any way. Also, if bird droppings land on the panels or get dusty, you can simply rinse them off with a garden hose.
If you’re in the Reno area you can get between 10 and 51 inches of snow a year. If snowfall is light, then the rays from the sun will simply melt the snow. However, if you have more than a couple of inches of snow, you can use a snow rake to brush off the excess snow from your panels.
If ever your panels are not functioning properly your solar installer can help narrow down the issue and resolve it with you. The installer should assess any damage to take the best course of action.
It is important to note that not all panel damages are covered under the panel’s manufacturer warranty. Make sure you know if your panels are covered before you have them fixed. If the warranty doesn’t cover the repair, find out if your homeowner’s insurance policy will.
After 10 years most inverter warranties will expire and may need replacement. Inverters don’t last very long because they are used all day, every day. Setting aside some of the money you’re saving with solar will help you afford a new inverter when the time comes.
So, while solar panels have some maintenance, the upkeep is very minimal. But the savings over the course of their 25-year life is well worth the occasional service call for any panel issues.
Nevada Solar Myth #8 Solar Panels Depreciate The Value Of My Home
Solar panels may not recoup their full retail value in the sale of your home, but they can increase your home’s worth. The worth of your home, however, is not black and white.
Appraisers look at your square footage and the improvements needed. They then compare them to the asking price of similar homes in your area. You need to consider what your buyers value. If you live in an area that values clean energy then your home will be worth more. The age and quality of your panels is also a determining factor. People investing in your panels want to know how much longer the panels are going to work and how well.
The placement of your panels can also be a key factor. Having panels at the back of your home will preserve the look of your house. This will attract buyers that want good curb appeal as well as energy savings. Berkeley Lab found that home buyers as of 2015 were willing to pay $4 per watt of energy the system could produce. For a 3.6 kW system, this is about $15,000.
Leasing vs Buying Solar Panels
The one instance in which solar panels might depreciate your home’s value is when they are leased. This is because leased panels are not a permanent structure and are not allowed to be considered in your home’s appraisal. Leases are also harder to sell because new owners need to agree to take on the existing solar lease.
With these factors in mind, it’s safe to say that a quality purchased system, in a good area, will actually increase your home’s value. If you have had the panels for a couple of years they will also have saved you money which you can reinvest back into other upgrades for your home, thus skyrocketing your home’s value. It’s all about making smart decisions with the best information to get the best return on your home investments.
Nevada Solar Myths #9 Solar Panels Are Inefficient
While solar panels don’t transfer 100 percent of the energy the sun puts out into electricity, solar panels are highly efficient energy resources. Saying that panels are inefficient though is hyperbole.
The Reality Of Panel Production
The best solar panels will produce about 20 percent of the sun’s energy into electricity, while average panels produce less than 14 percent. If we’re only comparing the conversion of energy from the sun, then yes solar is less efficient than other alternatives.
But this is false reasoning when considering the efficiency of harnessing non-renewable energies and the efforts wasted investing in long-term fossil fuel strategies vs. solar energy strategies, which will continue to produce into the long-term future. Solar panels aren’t as expensive to maintain either. This means that while the percentage of conversion may be technically lower, the production costs are also lower.
Nevada Solar Myth #10 Residential Solar Has Achieved Grid Parity In The US
While the price of solar has gone down significantly it has not quite reached parity with fossil fuels. Although people save money with solar this is currently because of government subsidies that encourage solar energy growth.
What is Grid Parity?
Grid parity is the point at which alternative energy costs less or equal to fossil fuels. When the cost of solar is the same price as fossil fuels without subsidies we will have what is called “grid parity”.
What It Will Take to Achieve Grid Parity
Because solar panels can’t produce power when the sun isn’t out, this makes it difficult to exercise the full benefit of a fair net-metered program that allows you to save money by having solar energy all the time. To combat this many have fought for fare net metering policies. Others are working on improving solar backup options so that solar can be completely off the grid.
As time goes on, long-term solar backup and solar arrays will become more economical. Once they reach the point where government backing isn’t a need, grid parity will be reached. In fact, a Lloyd’s Register 2018 expert opinion survey stated that the US expects to reach grid parity by 2025.
Nevada Solar Myth #11 Net Metering Makes It Easy for Households to Go Off-Grid
The ease of going off-grid is not determined by whether or not you have net metering. In fact, most people that go off-grid do so because they live too far away from the grid. These homes never had power from a utility provider, to begin with.
What It Takes To Go Off-Grid
Ideally, everyone wants to be self-sustaining with solar backup. This, however, has become a dream rather than a reality for most.
To go off-grid, you currently need to purchase batteries that can support the energy needs of your entire home. These batteries are close to the same price as your solar array.
Staying connected to the grid, however, only costs about $10 a month. When you get connected to the grid you are paid for the excess energy that you produce. This offsets the electricity you use when the sun isn’t out.
Until solar backup makes more financial sense, most people will prefer to stay connected via net metering. However, when making the leap toward off-grid solutions it’s important to make sure you have a system that is compatible with battery backup.
The Takeaway for Nevada Solar
While there are some legitimate considerations to make before deciding to invest in solar power for your home or commercial building, it’s important to address the facts relevant to solar energy in Nevada and not let myths hold you back from making the best energy decisions for your home or building.
If you would like to learn more about solar energy for your Nevada home, contact us. By setting up an in-person appointment, we can help you decern between fact and fiction for your specific solar situation. We help our customers make the best decisions, based purely on facts, numbers, and logic.