Wyoming simplicity and beauty
With the Grand Teton mountains, a corner of Yellowstone park, and lots of wide-open cowboy country, Wyoming has great natural resources that could use some protection. With millions of years of history fossilized in its mountains and prairies, and a phenomenal Native American culture, the state has to stop relying on coal. Making the switch to clean, renewable, solar energy would be the easy choice when it comes to safeguarding the West for future generations. Unfortunately the legislature has yet to do much to either create state-backed incentives for residential solar power, or push the utility companies to do so. Here at SPR, our first suggestion would be to start with a Renewables Portfolio Standard.
Wyomings’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.
As we alluded to just a paragraph ago, Wyoming has not yet passed an RPS. Even more unfortunately, the pattern we’ve seen elsewhere is repeated: no RPS meansno state and utility backed incentives for solar power here.
Solar Performance Payments and Rebates in Wyoming
Wyoming lacks any utility solar power rebates or performance payments. If an RPS were in place to establish minimum levels of renewable energy production, we can guarantee the utility companies would offer incentives to help you make the switch to solar. How do we know? It’s worked everywhere that a real RPS has been implemented!
Wyoming Solar Tax Credits
The legislature hasn’t been much help bringing down the cost of solar power either; there are no tax credits available for installing a solar power system here.
Wyoming Solar Tax Exemptions
Unfortunately Wyoming is behind the curve here as well, with neither a sales tax nor a property exemption in place. Tax exemptions are an excellent way to help homeowners save money on the switch to solar power without the state ever taking a penny out of its bank account. A sales tax exemption would save you 4% up front, and a property tax exemption on increase in home value you’ll get from installing a solar power system would save you bundles over the decades long life of that system. 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 Wyoming
Wyoming pays an average of 10.24 cents per kilowatt-hour (“kwh”) of electricity. That’s more than a full cent below 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 …
Wyoming 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. Wyoming requires investor-owned utilities and electric cooperatives to offer net metering. All monthly surplus energy production is applied to your next bill. Whether you get the full retail rate of the utility’s “avoided cost” (essentially the wholesale) rate varies by company. If you run a surplus for the entire year, the utility will purchase your remaining surplus annual at the avoided-cost rate.
That’s a really solid net metering program. Overall we gave Wyoming a “B” in this category only because of the 25kw system size limit. That limit should be raised to allow larger commercial and industrial customers to meet all of their on site generation needs. The limit shouldn’t cause any problems for residential systems, most of which come in around 5kw.
While Wyoming’s net metering law includes basic interconnection requirements, it does not establish any set any actual interconnection rules beyond those basic safety compliance requirements. Rocky Mountain Power (PacifiCorp) has established its own interconnection standards that, according to the Wyoming Public Services Commission, serves as the model for the the interconnection agreements of every other Wyoming electric provider.
5kW Example Return on Investment in Wyoming
Installing a typical 5kW solar system in Wyoming should start at about $25,000. Don’t worry – even without state incentives, you’re still going to save a lot, just in the first year.
- Since the feds calculate the federal solar tax credit based on actual out of pocket costs, no state solar power rebates or other incentives mean a bigger federal tax credit. Subtract $7,500 (30% of $25,000) for a new price of $17,500.
- After the federal solar tax credit we subtract your first year’s energy savings, which we estimate to be about $619. That brings your cost after the first year to $16,781.
- 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 16 years. Even with that somewhat slower payback time frame, you can still expect to get many years of profits out of your solar power system. We estimate those profits to be more than 17 grand through 2036.
- In addition to those direct wallet-fattening savings, you also increased your home value by $14,377!
- And last but not least, you’ve created some green for the earth as well as yourself by not using all that fossil-fuel backed electricity. In fact, the fossil-fuel energy you’re not using is the carbon-saving equivalent of planting 124 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!
Wyoming Solar Consensus
Lawmakers in Cheyenne have really dropped the ball on this one; the natural potential for solar power is actually quite high here, and virtually every Wyoming resident could save money while producing clean energy if the right incentives were in place. Unfortunately, we lack any of those incentives or the RPS to spur them. Until that situation changes, the start-up costs and payback time frame on a solar power system continues to lag behind here.