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 South Dakota
With long winters, deep snows, and high winds most people think of South Dakota as a poor choice for a solar installation. However, with increased cell efficiency levels and more solar intensity than a considerable number of states, South Dakota has a lot more potential for photovoltaics than you’d think.
While interest in solar has been low here, the governor himself confessed his support for renewable energy throughout the state, saying that there was plenty of potential for South Dakota solar installations. That change in attitude reflects a shift that’s taking place all across the nation. With solar becoming more affordable, many homeowners are starting to realize the dream of powering their homes using power straight from the sun.
Although the absence of a net metering policy– a very popular incentive for residential solar households– has made solar not as lucrative in this state as in some of its neighbors, the government still offers tax credits that can offset the cost of solar equipment. This guide will provide you with the details of those measures, including illuminating data on the state’s solar productivity, information about area installers, and the details of rebates and incentives available for residents like you, who are interested in reducing their carbon footprint and investing in solar power.
Solar Productivity in South Dakota
South Dakota may not always be the warmest place, but don’t discount the potential for solar power in this state, particularly in the south western portion of the state. When the National Renewable Energy Laboratory investigated the solar productivity of all the states, it found that South Dakota ranked somewhere near the middle in terms of solar potential. With a UV index of 0.87, the average solar installation here can generate somewhere between 5 to 6 kilowatt hours of power a day, or perhaps even more in the very western reaches of the state. That amount is enough to put quite a dent in energy expenses, making electricity bills more affordable than ever.
Popularity of Solar in South Dakota
Due to the poor overall lack of incentives, and the misconception that solar installations in this area are not profitable, South Dakota ranks a dismal last in the nation for solar capacity. At the end of 2015, there was a mere 240 kilowatts of solar power installed in this area, only enough to power 30 homes. Still, of the 20 kilowatts installed in the last year, over 18 of them were from residential installations, and homeowner interest in the technology is growing. As in the rest of the U.S., solar power is set to grow enormously, a charge that’s being lead by renewed interest from area residents.
Average South Dakota Residential Electricity Use and Cost
South Dakotans benefit from very low average energy costs—compared to the rest of the U.S., this state spends several cents below the national average per kilowatt, according to the Energy Information Association. Although the average monthly bill was on par with the United States average, homeowners here still consume more than many states, using an average 1,046 kilowatt hours of power per month, while the U.S. as a whole used 911 kilowatt hours. Those high consumption numbers mean that residents in the Mount Rushmore State could use a little break in their energy use, especially since energy rates are expected to rise in the coming years, as nonrenewable resources become scarcer.
Installing Solar in South Dakota
Due to the low overall popularity of solar energy systems in the state, there are very few solar installers working in South Dakota—by some estimates, there may be only one company operating throughout the area. However, electricians in the area may be able to perform an installation for you as well, and as long as their work meets the state’s interconnection guidelines, it should be sufficient. Meanwhile, it goes without saying that large solar companies, like Sungevity and SolarCity, have not established operations in the state, so if you are looking for an alternative purchasing strategy, such as a solar lease, you will have to look elsewhere.
South Dakota State Solar Support
Many times, a good way to tell if a state is supportive of renewable energy is to examine whether or not it has enacted a renewable energy standards portfolio—a set of goals for the purchase of renewable energy in the near future. South Dakota did set such a standard for area utilities, challenging them to purchase at least 10 percent of their power from renewables by 2015. Unfortunately, the state did not make the standard involuntary, and it created little incentive for area residents to purchase solar energy in their homes, because it did not pass a net metering policy for its homeowners.
Still, the future of solar is still up in the air in this state. In 2016, the governor signed a bill that would enact changes to the tax structure for renewable systems to encourage the growth of solar power throughout the state, and penned a letter attesting his clear support for the expansion of solar in South Dakota. With that kind of enthusiastic support backing the South Dakota solar industry, there’s hope that new changes will be brought to bear in the area, which could make solar more affordable for the average homeowner. That’s a good thing, because solar power is on the rise throughout the U.S., due to falling equipment prices and renewed residential interest, so a boost to South Dakota’s solar capacity could keep this state competitive with the rest of the nation.
State South Dakota Solar Incentives
South Dakota is one of just four states in the U.S. that has not implemented a popular incentive known as net metering, which credits homeowners for the energy that they return to the grid. However, there are a few other incentives available to homeowners that purchase and install solar energy systems in this state. Here are the details of those programs:
Renewable Energy System Property Tax Exemption: Homeowners who purchase solar energy systems for their South Dakota homes are eligible for a partial exemption on property taxes. That’s good news, because solar energy systems tend to boost property values overall, meaning you’ll get all the benefit of a higher valuation without paying the price. The exemption is capped at 70 percent of the total property value or $50,000, whichever is greater.
Additionally, there is another way for households to save when they purchase and install a solar energy system in their South Dakota home. The federal government pays solar homeowners up to 30 percent of the cost of their equipment, through the national Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit. The system must be large enough to generate at least half of the home’s energy demand. To see if you qualify, fill out IRS form 5695 when you file your federal income taxes.
Local South Dakota Solar Incentives
Unfortunately, there are no local government or area utility incentives or loan programs listed for South Dakota residents in the U.S. Department of Energy Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency. Check with your local municipal government and utility to see if there are new programs available that might not be listed yet, and encourage your local lawmakers to enact these kinds of incentives for homeowners like you.