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 West Virginia
West Virginia’s solar story is largely unwritten—the robust coal industry throughout the Mountain State has kept alternative energy dormant, at least for now. However, you shouldn’t mistake that to mean that solar energy has no place in the West Virginia hills. Indeed, like in most parts of the U.S., solar installations are set to grow by leaps and bounds in West Virginia, taking energy distribution throughout the nation by storm.
In fact, a surprising partnership with one of the internet’s largest selling communities may be responsible for the next chapter of West Virginia’s solar history, as a partnership with a solar company in the Martinsburg area may bring panels to sellers all across the nation, and grow the West Virginia solar industry along with it.
If you’re thinking about installing solar panels on your West Virginia home, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the area’s energy history and incentives, to make sure you’re getting the biggest bang for your buck. Here’s an insider’s guide to purchasing and installing solar energy systems in your area, to get help you bring forth a new era in your state’s energy history.
Solar Productivity in West Virginia
In 2006, The National Renewable Energy Laboratory calculated the solar potential for various states based on their sunlight intensity levels, and found that West Virginia had an average sun index of 0.79. To give you some context, Nevada, the highest U.S. state, surpasses that by 0.40 points, while Washington state, the lowest, comes in at 0.67. That puts the Mountain State at somewhere on the lower side of sun intensity among the states; however, don’t discount the potential of a few good hours of sunlight. Systems here still receive enough sun to produce an average 4 to 5 kilowatt hours of solar power daily, which can definitely shave some dollars off your energy bills, and slim your carbon footprint as well.
West Virginia’s Solar Popularity
In 2015, West Virginia households and businesses installed a mere 790 kilowatts of solar capacity, according to industry estimates, ranking this state 43rd in the nation that year for solar power growth. Meanwhile, with only 3.4 megawatts of solar installed, alternative power definitely occupies just a miniscule percentage of the state’s energy sector. However, don’t let those numbers fool you—solar power is set to grow enormously soon, here and all throughout the United States. Solar panel prices are falling fast, and as equipment becomes more affordable and efficient, a huge boom is predicted for the industry throughout the end of the decade. That means that in West Virginia, solar may well have a very bright future indeed.
Average West Virginia Residential Electricity Use and Cost
West Virginia’s far flung population, with many residents living in remote homes off main gas pipelines, means that many homeowners rely on alternative sources to heat and cool their homes—alternatives like electricity or propane. That positions this area perfectly for an investment in supplemental solar power, which can keep homeowners independent, while saving costs on heating fuels.
West Virginia also reaps the benefit of very affordable energy prices, paying an average of 9.34 cents per kilowatt hour on their electricity bills in 2014, according to the Energy Information Association. Those low costs bulk up homeowners’ energy consumption—with an average 1,100-some kilowatt hours per month, households here use far more energy than the national average. Despite those low energy costs, homes here still pay monthly bills on par with the rest of the U.S., so a little renewable energy could definitely help save residents here some money.
Installing Solar in West Virginia
There are just a handful of solar installers operating throughout West Virginia, so you’ll have only a few options to choose from when you have your panels and equipment installed on your home. Additionally, large national installers, like Sungevity and SolarCity, are not operating in this state yet, meaning that alternative purchasing options like solar leases may not be available for residents in your area.
West Virginia State Solar Support
Given West Virginia’s storied history with coal and natural gas, it’s not surprising that state support for alternative energy remains low. Unlike other areas that take a more positive stance on solar, the legislature here has not adopted a renewable energy portfolio standard—a set of goals for how much clean energy the state should purchase along a particular timeline. And without that kind of governmental support, price-reducing incentives from local municipalities and utilities have been harder to come by.
However, incremental progress is still being made towards enacting more aggressive energy policies throughout the West Virginia. Recently, a new natural gas plant planned for the Greensville area was given much stricter emissions requirements than previous plants, although it was not required to offset those emissions using renewable energy, as some had hoped. And although coal advocates here have stood staunchly against new energy requirements brought on by the federal Clean Power Plan, they have been quick to admit that a new era is dawning in the energy sector.
Meanwhile, in a more unusual twist, West Virginia solar marketing company Geostellar recently announced a very unlikely partner: Etsy, the online seller community. Etsy members who decide to go solar in their homes will receive a discount on their panels through Geostellar, meaning that the solar industry in West Virginia could soon make quite a splash, bringing new installers—and perhaps even healthier, more robust government incentives—along with it.
West Virginia State Solar Incentives
Unfortunately, as of now, West Virginia doesn’t exactly have the widest array of solar incentives to choose from, so if you’re looking for a loan or rebate from the state to help offset the costs of your initial investment on solar equipment, you’ll be on your own to secure an individual bank loan. That being said, what incentives are on offer can help cut back costs after installation, making solar power in your West Virginia home a solid choice. Here are the details of those programs:
Net Metering: Like many states throughout the U.S., West Virginia has enacted a statewide solar net metering policy, that requires utilities to meter grid-connected solar households’ energy generation against the energy that they consume. Generated energy must be credited at the utility’s retail rate, and credits can be rolled over on a customer’s utility bill indefinitely. However, homeowners must carry at least $100,000 in homeowner’s liability insurance in order to qualify.
West Virginia solar households are also eligible for an incentive from the federal government as well. The national Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit returns those homeowners up to 30 percent of their solar energy system costs, as long as that equipment can be used to generate at least half of a home’s energy demand. To see if you qualify for the incentive, fill out IRS form 5695 when you file your federal income taxes.
Local West Virginia Solar Incentives
Unfortunately, there are no incentives offered through local governments or individual utilities located in West Virginia. If you are looking for additional assistance purchasing solar equipment for your West Virginia home, your best bet is to ask your bank for a personal loan, or seek out a manufacturer that can provide financing when you buy your equipment.