Solar Energy

Good News About Solar
Power Costs In Nebraska Today

Today Nebraska businesses and homeowners can make electricity with a solar electric or photovoltaic (PV) system they own for about the same amount as they would pay their local utility for that power.
Electricity made by “rooftop PV” at residences or commercial locations can commonly be expected to cost between 6.9 cents and 11 cents per kiloWatthour (kWh). Retail residential prices in Nebraska range from 5 cents to more than 10 cents per kWh depending on local utility rate structure and time of year. Larger systems, even when requiring ground-level mounting, can be expected to yield power for 5.5 cents per kWh.
These figures take into account the available tax credits as well as the newly inexpensive solar hardware.
How Are The Prices Calculated?
In short: very simply. Take the cost of a photovoltaic system and allocate it over the electricity produced over the 25-year productive life of a PV system. We use the term of the “power guarantee” that PV manufacturers offer. These guarantees usually cover 25 or 30 years and claim to represent the degree to which their equipment will perform over time. A typical guarantee will promise that a given PV panel will produce 85% of its rated 25 years post-installation.
Two conditions are required for end users of electricity to achieve this. First, the installation must be little or no more difficult than average, which is to say that a roof cannot be unusually steep or high, or require special construction. Special hardware such as used for an array at ground level or a mounting syste

NREL Solar Map

This map from the National Renewable Energy Labs shows Nebraska’a solar resource. The potential ranges from “good” in the eastern part of the state to “excellent” in the southwest. (Click to enlarge.)

m that tracks the sun across the sky can increase the cost significantly. Second, the person or company must be able to use the 30% federal tax credit and any local subsidies that are available. (Lincoln Electric System offers a one-time $275 per kiloWatt capacity payment to its customer-owners after systems are installed.)
Other assumptions are:
~ standard equipment such as PV panels and inverters with 25 year warranties are used.
~ The panels face generally south and are tilted at approximately 40 degrees from horizontal.
Solar Potential in Nebraska
Eastern Nebraska has a good solar resource. The National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) credits this part of the state with an average of 5 hours of sun per day. (Many practitioners consider that figure to be too conservative and use a factor of 5.5 hours to calculate output.) Western Nebraska is credited with 5.3 hours of sun per day.
Now Nebraskans can harvest the energy of our sun in a green fashion both financially & environmentally!

For more information, contact:

John Atkeison
Energy Policy Director
Nebraska Wildlife Federation
(and certified photovoltaic installer)
john@nebraskawildlife.org
(402) 915-3210