How to Use the Solar Calculator
The best way to learn about local rebates, your home’s energy potential, and your eventual return on investment is to use our ModSun Solar Cost Calculator (see above). Enter your home address in the box, then click Check My Roof. You’ll get an instant picture of your roof’s productivity, your average energy expenses, and installation costs in your area—whether you decide to buy or loan. We’ll also provide system size recommendations and information about rebates and incentives you may be eligible for. Just select More Info under each purchasing strategy to learn more, and then connect with a solar pro.
Solar Power in North Dakota
As in most of the U.S., solar energy in North Dakota is just starting to emerge as an alternative to traditional coal, natural gas, and nuclear power. While the state has seen very low solar adoption rates overall, lawmaker’s interest in renewable power is definitely growing, starting with the introduction of state ordinances allowing for the construction of solar panels on area homes.
That means that while solar may not exactly be a massive industry yet in the Dakotas, it’s definitely poised to grow enormously, especially as the price of equipment continues to drop, as it’s expected to throughout the end of the decade. That’s in addition to panels growing more efficient and easier to manufacture, making solar a more affordable option for households all over the U.S. Meanwhile in North Dakota, incentive programs may not be bounteous but they are generous and include options like net metering, which offers residents real money for excess power they return to the grid. That, combined with plentiful sunshine, makes this state ripe for solar energy and means you stand to save a lot of money if you install photovoltaics on your home rooftop. To get you started, read the guide below to learn the basics of installing solar power in your state.
Solar Productivity in North Dakota
North Dakota may be known for its chilly winter temperatures, and no wonder—with January lows averaging just 0.1 degrees Fahrenheit, North Dakotans experience some of the coldest winter temperatures in the nation. However, the state still sees its fair share of intense summer rays. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory tested individual states for their solar potential, and found that North Dakota comes in with a rate of 0.84 on the U.V. index—the scale that ranks environments for their solar intensity. That puts North Dakota somewhere in the middle in terms of solar production, and with systems producing an average 4.5 to 5 kilowatt hours of solar power daily in the area, particularly in the southwestern part of the state, North Dakotans stand to profit immensely from installing solar panels on their homes.
North Dakota Solar Popularity
Adoption rates may be lagging in North Dakota—one industry publication ranked the state 51st in the nation for solar power potential—however, like most of the U.S., solar power is still in its infancy, and stands to grow enormously. For instance, recently two utilities in the area– Northern Plains Electric Cooperative and Dakota Valley Electric Cooperative– constructed experimental solar installations that when completed will generate an estimated 10,000 kilowatt hours of clean energy annually. The system was generated in part to show that solar power is a viable source of power in the state—in fact, you can even view generation data from the array in real time here. As projects like this one show, interest in solar power is growing across the Dakotas meaning that it should become an increasingly popular option for residents as the decade comes to a close.
Average North Dakota Residential Electricity Use and Cost
Cold winters and high heating costs keep electricity consumption in North Dakota on the rise—in fact, between 2013 and 2014, total electricity use in the state rose almost 1,000 million kilowatt hours. North Dakotans however pay some of the lowest energy prices in the nation at 8.1 cents on average per kilowatt, only Idaho has cheaper electricity costs. However, nothing is cheaper than free energy and homeowners here can still mitigate utility costs by installing solar power in their homes.
Installing Solar in North Dakota
Due to the overall low interest in solar power in this state in the past, solar installers are few and far between. However, there are a handful of companies operating in North Dakota, based mostly in Fargo and outside of Minot. Meanwhile, larger national organizations do not operate in North Dakota, meaning alternative purchasing strategies like solar leases may be harder to access in this state. Still, you can expect more installers to come on board as solar power becomes more plentiful and popular, meaning you should have a wider offering of contractors to choose from soon.
North Dakota State Solar Support
State support for solar in North Dakota has been somewhat lukewarm—while the state government did enact a goal for renewable energy adoption, which set an objective to obtain 10 percent of its energy from clean power by 2015, statewide incentives and programs to encourage area business and homeowners to implement solar power come in somewhere on the light side, at least in comparison to other states.
Meanwhile, residents here have been hampered by the absence of solar panels from the state building code, which most contractors generally interpret to mean an item is prohibited. However, that at least should be changing soon. An ordinance drafted in May of 2016 aims to address the installation and erection of solar panels on area businesses and homes. This demonstrates a slow but steady realization in Bismarck that solar power may play at least a part of the future of North Dakota’s energy distribution.
North Dakota State Solar Incentives
State incentives in North Dakota may not exactly be plentiful, but what the state does offer is generous, including a state property tax exemption and net metering, that can help offset costs and expenses associated with owning and installing solar power. Here are the details of those programs:
Renewable Energy Property Tax Exemption: Solar energy systems and solar-powered heating devices tend to raise property values on homes, which is great on your valuation, but can be difficult if you’re already struggling to pay heavy property taxes. In North Dakota, however, solar homeowners are exempt from paying any additional taxes generated by the installation of PV equipment for a full five years after its purchase, meaning you get all of the benefit on your valuation with none of the extra cost.
Net Metering: All residents serviced by North Dakota utilities are eligible for a popular incentive, known as net metering, that pays residents for energy they return to the grid. Utilities in The Peace Garden State must pay residents the utility’s avoided cost for each kilowatt of energy returned—in other words, the marginal cost that the utility would pay if they were to generate that power themselves. That means you stand to save quite a bit using this incentive in your solar-powered home.
North Dakota residents with solar power installed in their homes can receive another incentive as well, offered by the federal government. The Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit returns homeowners 30 percent of the cost of solar energy equipment, as long as that system can be used to generate over half a home’s total energy needs. To see if you are eligible, apply for the incentive using IRS form 5695 on your federal income taxes.
North Dakota Local Solar Incentives
Unfortunately, there are no local government or utility renewable energy incentives and programs in North Dakota currently listed in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Database of State Incentives. That means residents will have to look elsewhere, such as through bank loans or manufacturer discounts, to offset the costs of solar equipment.