technician checking solar panels on factory roof

Why Idaho Is One of the Best States for Residential Solar Power

More and more Idaho residents are turning to solar power — and not just for environmental reasons but for financial ones, too. The state’s solar incentives are one of the most attractive in the nation. That’s why Idahoans, from Boise to Lewiston, are quick to see such a good investment.

More Efficient and Less Expensive

Modern solar panels are already more efficient, reliable, and durable. Most solar energy companies will guarantee their panels’ efficiency with warranties of 25 years or more, ensuring that efficiency rates don’t drop below 20%. With a lifespan of 30 to 40 years or even more, residential solar energy systems are bound to double their initial cost when it comes to overall savings.

Practically Free

The typical home in Idaho uses about 1,000 kWh worth of electricity per month, an amount that can be covered by an 8-kW solar energy system. A setup like this usually costs $18,000 to $20,000, but with the federal solar investment tax credits, prices go down to $13,000 to $14,000. Idaho’s state tax incentive for residential alternative energy devices further cuts down prices by a maximum of $5,000, leaving you with final costs of around $8,000 to $9,000.

In a 10-year financial plan with interests of 6 to 7%, your monthly payments should come at around $90 to $100. An average Idaho household pays around the same amount for electricity, so you’ll be financing your solar panels with the savings you get on your monthly electricity bills. After 10 years, your panels are paid for and you still have 20 to 30 years worth of free electricity — increasing your total savings by $20,000 to $30,000.

Maximizing Your Energy Use

Solar panel on a red roof

Net metering won’t land you a check at the end of the month for any excess electricity you send to the grid. However, it will give you credits that you can use when your solar panels’ electrical production goes down (usually during winter). What you can do is to make full use of the excess electricity your solar panels produce and one of the best ways to do that is with an electric vehicle.

Compared to standard vehicles, electric cars operate at a fraction of a cost, or even free if you’re charging one using the excess electricity your panels produce. The average American driver spends more than $3,000 on fuel every year, money that can be spent elsewhere when using an electric vehicle.

Hiccups Along the Way

Currently, parts of Idaho served by Idaho Power are locked in a net-metering feud. The power company’s proposal of lower net-metering rates was rejected by the Idaho Public Service Commission (PSC) and the power company has cut off the eligibility for the previous net-metering rates for residential solar customers last December 20. As the PSC and Idaho Power have yet to decide on the net-metering rates for new solar customers, newer installations will not be credited for any power sent to the grid. The situation should be settled soon as both parties have started negotiations.

There is no reason not to avail of solar power in Idaho. The combined federal and state incentives for solar installation are simply too generous to pass off. Both residents and the environment benefit from these green policies.

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