For years solar energy has been touted as the most viable solution for getting countries off of fossil fuels. If we take a look back to 2008, the solar vision starts to blur. The cost of solar in 2008 was twice as expensive as it is today and only a small group of early adopters had begun to make the switch to solar. Reflect on last year though, and the solar vision starts to come into focus.
The solar industry saw huge growth in 2016 in the U.S., as well as in Utah. With over 16,000 registered net metering agreements signed in Utah in 2016, the local solar industry saw approximately 268% growth in installations from 2015.
2017 is lining up to be an equally impressive year for solar. Here are the top 5 reasons to make the switch to solar in Utah in 2017.
5. Diminishing State Tax Return
As of February 6th, 2017, House Bill 23 (HB23) has passed committee and is waiting to be voted on by the Utah Congress. The purpose of House Bill 23 is to phase out the 10% Utah state tax credit (up to $2000) by 2021. Lawmakers are claiming that the Utah solar tax credit is costing the state $60 million per year.
Solar advocacy groups like Utah Solar Energy Association(USEA) have given up the fight against HB23 in favor of compromise. Ryan Evans, The President of USEA, stated, “We would have preferred to see the tax credits live on...Realizing the political pressures and budgetary pressures this year, however, we aren’t contesting this.”
Rather than fighting against HB23, the focus shifted towards a small piece of the bill. HB23 in its original writing had proposed a gradual decline of the state solar tax credit until it was eliminated by 2021. The bill also put a cap on the amount of funds available each year, starting from $4 million and declining to $0.
A compromise was reached that would eliminate the cap on funds available. As it stands HB23 will be heard by congress 3 times before it is voted on. HB23 will reduce the state tax credit by $400 each year until 2021 when the state tax credit will be fully eliminated.
To save the most on your solar array, it is recommended to make the switch while the state tax credit is still available.
4. Net Metering Uncertainty
The Utah Public Service Commission suspended Rocky Mountain Power’s proposed net metering changes on December 9th, 2016(read more here). This was a small victory for Utah Solar companies and customers but it wasn’t the end of the discussion.
There is a public hearing scheduled for August 9th, 2017. A Final decision on whether or not Rocky Mountain Power’s request for rate increases won’t be made until late August, 2017.
Other states like Nevada have already experienced similar rate increases which have caused residential solar payback times to increase to the point that there was a 99% decrease in residential installations.
If you want to ensure that you maximize your total solar savings, get signed up under the current net metering terms. Solar arrays are paying back in just 8 years on average today. If the proposed net metering changes get passed, that number would increase to around 20 years.
3. Impressive New Technology
Solar technology has made incredible progress over the past 10 years. Better manufacturing practices, scientific discoveries, and economies of scale have made solar incredibly affordable in 2017.
We are seeing manufacturers consistently increasing their panels efficiency rating and panel lifespan. SolarWorld has recently released what is being considered the best solar panel on the market.
SolarWorld’s new line of bifacial solar panels are changing how solar arrays are designed. The new bifacial panels make it possible to collect direct sunlight as well as sunlight that is reflected from your roof. Both sides of the solar panel have photovoltaic semiconductors which make it possible to increase the efficiency of the panel by up to 25%.
New solar panel technologies are making it possible to put fewer panels on homes, cover more of a home's energy consumption, and increase your total savings.
2. Social Responsibility
We are living at a point in time where we are witnessing the effects of human activity on the planet; ice caps are melting at an alarming rate, draughts are becoming more extreme, storms are more severe, and land is being destroyed to produce more fossil fuels.
Park City has made the pledge to run on electricity produced by renewable sources by 2032. Making the switch will require action from all Park City residents. If we want to show the state and the world that we value the outdoors & sustainability, we will need to come together as a community to be the change that we want to see.
1. Solar Saves Money
One of the most enticing reasons to switch to solar, is the amount of money that is saved by making the switch. Many people still believe that making the switch to solar is very expensive, when in fact it has become very affordable. Solar arrays are paying back in just 8 years on average, but what exactly does that mean?
After approximately 8 years, the total cost of your solar panels will be paid back by the amount of energy that they produce. Most good solar panels have output warranties of 25 to 30 years. This means that at a minimum you’ll get approximately 17 years of free electricity generation, although panels have been known to last longer than they are warrantied.
It really is that simple, switch to solar and save money. Use our calculator below to get an idea of how much you could save.