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 Utah
Industry may be Utah’s official motto, but it might as well be “solar power.” Not only does the home of the Great Salt Lake boast some of the lowest energy consumption numbers in the west, it’s also making a name for itself as a progressive energy provider. Utah is championing as clean energy in its cities and businesses and growing its solar capacity enormously.
Although there are only a handful of residential incentives to choose from in this area, what is on offer is fairly generous, especially if your home is serviced by one of the state’s larger electricity providers. These programs will definitely help mitigate the costs of installing a solar energy system on your home’s rooftop. Meanwhile, huge solar productivity keeps installations here humming, giving Utah rooftops some of the highest solar potential in the nation. If you’re thinking about making the switch to solar in your Utah home, you can expect a bright future indeed. Here’s what you need to know to get started with your home’s installation.
Solar Productivity in Utah
Situated over sun-bleached deserts and winding canyonlands, Utah’s solar productivity is high, to say the least. In fact, when the National Renewable Energy Laboratory calculated the solar productivity for each of the 50 U.S. state they found that Utah had enormous solar potential. With a UV index of 0.95 (Nevada, by comparison, has an index level of 1.19, the highest solar intensity of all the states), Utah ties for 8th place as the most productive state. Parts of the state, such as those towns throughout the southern canyon lands may even experience enough regular sunlight to generate an average 6.5 kilowatt hours of power daily, which can definitely offset energy from traditional power sources.
Popularity of Solar in Utah
There is enough solar power installed in Utah right now to power 44,000 homes, according to industry estimates. In 2015, the state installed over 230 megawatts of solar power, and experts predict a number almost four times that for 2016. Solar power is booming business in the Beehive State, ranking Utah 7th in the nation last year for solar growth, a trajectory that’s not expected to lower any time soon. If you get in on the trend now, you stand to save enormously—incentives tend to be harder to come by as more homeowners adopt.
Average Utah Residential Electricity Use and Cost
Utahns are very efficient energy users, and that savings translates on their electricity bills. Residents here consume almost 200 kilowatt hours less than the average U.S. home—in 2014, they used an average 747 kilowatt hours per month, compared to the nation’s 911. Meanwhile, homeowners in the Beehive State also pay less per kilowatt hour than the U.S. as a whole—almost a full two cents per kilowatt hour less—and that can really add up over time. Utahans who have already taken the first steps to make their homes more efficient and energy forward can now benefit from installing solar on their rooftops, saving more electricity than ever.
Installing Solar in Utah
There are around 80 solar companies operating in Utah, and predictably, most of them are based in and around Salt Lake City and Provo. In fact, Utah’s Legend Solar recently was nationally recognized, earning the 2016 QuickBase Customer Award. That being said, however, large solar chains like Sungevity have not yet found their way to the Beehive State, so alternative purchasing strategies, like solar leases, may not be available in your area. Additionally, Utah does require solar installers to hold a state license so you’ll want to check into your contractor’s background before they begin your project.
Utah State Solar Support
Next year, officials in Utah hope to install over 850 megawatts of solar power, clearly demonstrating lawmaker’s preference for clean energy in the Beehive State. In fact, the Utah Bureau of Land Management even recently proposed a moratorium on coal power leases—an act influenced, at least in part, by the huge solar boom predicted for this area.
Meanwhile in Salt Lake City, Mayor Jackie Biskupski made a historic announcement this year as well: she wants the city to run on 100 percent clean energy by 2032. That effort is being helped by the installation of a new solar farm in Holden and over 4,000 solar panels installed on city buildings.
Overall, the state’s renewable portfolio standard requires the state to get at least 20 percent of its energy from clean power sources by 2025—a fairly aggressive goal that sets a clear precedent for area residents and businesses alike. In Utah, solar is becoming the path to the state’s future energy needs and homeowners can be a part of that transition.
Utah State Solar Incentives
There are just a handful of incentives offered at the state level for Utah residents who hope to install solar energy systems in their homes. However, what the state does provide for solar residences is fairly generous, all things considered. Here’s a look into those programs:
Personal Renewable Energy Systems Tax Credit: Utah homeowners who install solar energy systems and solar powered devices like solar hot water heater and space heaters on their properties are eligible for a state income tax credit, worth 25 percent of installed costs, up to $2,000.
Net Metering: Investor owned power companies and most electric coops allow solar customers in Utah to participate in a net metering program, an incentive that meters solar homeowners electricity usage against the energy they return to the grid. In Utah, that energy is capped at a rate equal to 20 percent of the utility’s 2007 peak load for Rocky Mountain Power, and 0.01 percent of the utility’s 2007 peak load for electric coops. Credits can be rolled over and applied to next month’s bill, for a period of 12 months, at which time the utility takes ownership, and turns them over to a low-income program. Several local utilities, including Washington City Power, Murray City Power, and the City of St. George Services Department, have implemented their own individual net metering programs, but they all follow the state’s guidelines for rates and credit ownership.
Utahans can also take advantage of a federal solar power incentive for residents who install solar energy equipment in their homes—the Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit. That program offers solar homeowners a rebate worth 30 percent of the cost of their system, as long as it is large enough to generate at least half of a home’s total energy. To apply, complete IRS form 5695 and return it along with your federal income taxes.
Local Utah Solar Incentives
There are also a few incentives for homeowners who install solar panels and solar devices, such as solar water heaters, to offset the cost of purchasing and installing this equipment. Here are those options:
Rocky Mountain Power Solar Incentive Program: Customers serviced by Utah’s largest utility are eligible to receive a production based incentive when they connect solar energy systems to the grid. The rate was set at $1.15 per watt for 2013, and there is a $4,600 maximum cap on the incentive. Systems can be sized no greater than 25 kilowatts.
Questar Gas Residential Energy Efficiency Rebate Programs: Residents serviced by Questar Gas are eligible for a one-time rebate on the purchase of energy-efficiency solar equipment, such as solar hot water heaters and solar pool heaters. The rebate is worth $750. For more details, visit the program website.