Beauty of a sunset in the Monongahela National Forest
West Virginia, home to the Appalachian Mountains, and some of the most beautiful hills in the country. You say you want to get out and enjoy cultural activities like traditional music and crafts. Perhaps you want to hobnob with the bigwigs over golf at the Greenbrier? Well, clean power will let you have that chance for generations to come. How about solar energy? Well, here’s what the legislature here has done so far…
West Virginia’s (lack of a) Renewables Portfolio Standard
A Renewables Portfolio Standard (“RPS”) is a law or other piece of regulation that mandates that a certain percentage of at state’s energy production comes from renewable resources by specified target dates. A strong RPS is important because it forces utility companies to promote conversion to renewable energy. That generally means free money for you in the form of solar power rebates and performance payments when you switch to solar.
West Virginia has not yet passed an RPS and sadly, the pattern we’ve seen elsewhere is repeated here: no RPS means no utility backed incentives for solar power here …
Solar Performance Payments and Rebates in West Virginia
That’s right, West Virginia got left in the Stone Age… I mean the Coal Age. There aren’t any performance payments or utility rebates for solar power here. It’s time to start calling your legislators to tell them to get on the ball when it comes to saving the atmosphere by promoting clean energy. We can guarantee that if a strong RPS were in place the utilities would be scrambling to offer you incentives to help them meet their RPS mandated goals. How do we know? Only because it works everywhere else!
West Virginia Solar Tax Credits
While they may not be pushing the utility’s to offer you cash incentives, lawmakers in Charleston have stepped up to the plate and passed a personal tax credit to help bring down the costs of switching to clean power. When you install your new solar power system, you’re entitled to a tax credit of 30% of costs, up to a maximum of $2,000.
West Virginia Solar Tax Exemptions
Unfortunately the tax credit is not buttressed by tax exemptions. Even without utility incentives, the legislature could do a great deal to incentivize solar power simply by adding these simple, straightforward laws. A sales tax exemption would save you 6% up front ($1,500 on the average 5kw residential system). A property tax exemption would do even more. When you add a solar power system your home goes up in value by about twenty times your annual electricity savings. A property tax exemption would save you from paying taxes on that increase in value, earning you extra cash year, after year, after year.
Legislators are missing an easy one here; we’ve seen tax exemptions help support solar power conversion elsewhere, even without large rebates or performance payments in place.
Utility Prices in West Virginia
West Virginia pays an average of 9.91 cents per kilowatt-hour (“kwh”) of electricity. That’s more than a a cent-and-a-half less than the national average of 11.43 cents/kwh. We know you like paying less now, but the long term costs of cheap electricity are through the roof. All that cheap electricity is produced by burning fossil fuels. Tons and tons of earth-killing fossil fuels. When the astronomical environmental costs start to mount, monthly electricity bills are inevitably going to rise as well. When that happens you’re going to feel pretty darn smart for making the early switch to producing your own clean, efficient solar power. Just remember to thank us …
West Virginia Net Metering and Interconnection
Net Metering requires your utility to monitor how much energy your solar power system produces and how much energy you actually consume, and to make sure you get credit for any surplus.
West Virginia requires all utilities to offer net metering. All monthly surplus energy production is applied to your next bill. Unused credits can be rolled ever perpetually, and unlike many other states, do not ever have to be surrendered back to the utility. That’s a really solid net metering program. The only thing we want to see changed is the elimination of liability insurance requirements for small residential systems.
Interconnection is solid here as well. All systems up to 2 MW are eligible to hook up to the grid. The connection process is split into two tiers depending on system size. Your residential system of less than 25kw qualifies for a reduced application fee of only $30 (maximum) and is exempt from requirements for an external disconnect switch.
5kW Example Return on Investment in West Virginia
Installing a typical 5kW solar system in West Virginia should start at about $25,000. Don’t worry – that’s going to come down a lot, just in the first year.
- Let’s start with that state tax credit. You’re going to get the max, so subtract $2,000 for a new price of $23,000.
- The federal solar tax credit is calculated based on actual out of pocket costs, so the state tax credit doesn’t apply, and you get 30% of the original $25,000 price tag. Subtract $7,500 for a new price of $15,500.
- After the federal solar tax credit we subtract your first year’s energy savings, which we estimate to be about $541. That brings your cost after the first year to $14,959.
- With a conservative estimate for the future rise of electricity prices, you can expect your new solar power system to pay for itself in about 18 years. Even with that somewhat slower payback time frame, you can still expect to get several years of profits out of your solar power system. We estimate those profits to be more than 10 grand through 2036.
- In addition to those direct wallet-fattening savings, you also increased your home value by $10,822!
- Don’t forget all that fossil fuel you’re not burning. Your solar power system is the carbon-saving equivalent of planting 97 trees a year, every year your solar power system is humming.
These numbers are estimates. Your home is unique and how much power you generate and how much money you save depends on that uniqueness. The best way to find out how much cash switching to solar can save you is to get one of our free quotes, and an expert installer in your area can draw up a home-specific estimate for you. Your quote is 100% free (yes, that’s right, 100% free) and you can get as many of them as that smart shopper in you desires!
West Virginia Solar Consensus
Hey mountaineers! Your legislature has failed! We hear so much about coal mine safety every year. Here’s a thought: retrain those miners to work in a safer industry – the solar power industry. Seriously! Coal mining may be part of the heritage of the state, but clean energy is the future of the planet. If you want to keep the state “Wild and Wonderful,” it’s time to start renewing the West Virginia political scene: vote yes on solar!