For solar panels to make financial sense, they need to save more money than they pay. Electric and solar installations, the amount of available sun, financial incentives, and personal energy consumption all have a vital component on the balance sheet. Although people adopt solar power technology for more reasons than saving money, it is also a huge one.
Homeowners in the mountain west have several reasons to make solar power a success. Plenty of sun and cheaper-than-average solar installation expenses make solar power an attractive option. Some may be holding back, but knowing if solar will pay off requires a little research.
Read CNETs for information about other regions of the sun, including New England, the East Coast, the Midlands, the South, and the West Coast.
The cost of electricity
Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming are some of the country''s most low electric prices, according to the EIA. Nearly all of the other Mountain West states are in the lower half of their average electricity prices: Colorado (12.27 cents per kWh), Colorado (12.36 cents per kWh), Montana (11.24 cents per kWh), New Mexico (12.94 cents per kWh), and Wyoming (10.11 cents per kWh).
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The average monthly income for these states, which takes into account electricity usage and costs, is from $80.24 in Utah to $136.70 in Arizona. The other states are Colorado, $87.88, Idaho, $95.04, Montana, $96.49, Nevada, $110.36, New Mexico, $86.66, and Wyoming, $96.59 in that regard. In general, monthly bills are less here than other states in the United States.
The cost of solar panels
Solar panel prices are most commonly measured in dollars per watt, a standard unit of measurement that may be used to compare solar prices in two ways.
Solar prices vary in part because labor and permitting costs do not. While solar panels and necessary hardware prices have dropped in recent years, labor and sales have not decreased as quickly.
According to Wood Mackenzie, the national average cost for a solar panel installation is $3.28 per watt. The Internet solar market is based on state-by-state average costs. Since both organizations receive their pricing statistics from different sources, their averages cannot be compared one-to-one.
According to EnergySage, Arizona''s average is $2.33 per watt (one of the lowest in the country), while next door in New Mexico the average is $3.21 per watt. The United States, Colorado ($3.13), Idaho ($2.55), Montana ($3.03, Nevada ($2.44), and Utah ($2.63) are among the cheapest six states for solar. Meanwhile, three of the most expensive are
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Another local disadvantage that affects solar panel prices is the incentive available. Every solar installation in the United States is eligible for a federal tax credit of 26% of the system''s costs. However, states, cities, and utilities often have additional incentives on the back.
While some states have absolutely nothing in terms of incentives, some states could save a substantial amount of effort. Many states have property tax exemptions (Arizona, Montana, and New Mexico) and sales tax exemptions (Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico) and others offer personal tax credits. In Idaho, you may deduct up to $20,000 of solar costs from your personal taxes. Rebates for solar systems from various governments and utilities range from 5 cents for each watt of solar capacity installed in Colorado.
Through the Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy and Efficiency, you may explore all incentives in your state.
The solar potential of the Mountain West
Solar potential is a term that can imply a few things, but irrespective of how you cut it, certain sections of the region have a lot of it.
Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah are among the top 11 countries to select solar installations per capita. Montana had the lowest ranking of the group at the 30th.
States like Colorado and Arizona enjoy a lot of sun, perfect for solar panels.
One way to measure solar potential is to determine how much electricity a horizontally mounted square meter of solar panels would generate on an average day. These states have the highest rating of any region in the United States. According to the National Renewable Energy Lab, the majority of this region would produce more than 5 kilowatt-hours per day (PDF), and the majority of it would produce more than seven kWh.
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The same NREL study claims that the average rooftop solar array may reduce 60% to 70% of the average utility bill in Montana, 70% to 80% percent in Arizona, Wyoming, 90% to 100% percent in Nevada, and more than 100% percent in Colorado and New Mexico. These states, on the whole, have a higher-than-average utility bill offset.
These are statewide averages and may not be what an individual homeowner might find. Their utility bill might be higher than average and the local cost of solar installation may be lower. However, this may be true if buying solar panels requires individual research. That includes getting multiple quotes from local installers and confirming the incentives available to you.
From this bird-eye perspective, the Mountain West has a great solar potential. In addition, average electricity costs are lower than normal, but solar costs also benefit. In these states, solar power is at least a worthy thing.