T

he history of solar in Utah dates back to the late 1970s when the state passed its first set of regulations on solar easements. This marked the beginning of a new era for renewable energy in the Beehive State, as it began to recognize the potential of photovoltaics and take steps to promote its use.

In the following years, however, Utah did not pass many additional policies related to solar power. It wasn't until the early 2000s that the state once again began to make significant strides in the development of its photovoltaic industry. This renewed focus on solar energy was driven by a number of factors, including the increasing accessibility and cost-effectiveness of PV technology, as well as growing concerns about climate change and the need to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

As a result of this renewed focus, the state went on to pass a number of policies that were designed to promote the use of solar power. In March 2008, it passed a law called The Energy Resource and Carbon Emission Reduction Initiative. This law has some similarities to other states' renewable portfolio standards (RPSs); however, its provisions indicate that it should be considered a renewable portfolio goal (RPG). This is because the law only requires utilities to pursue renewable energy if it is deemed "cost-effective."

In recent years, Utah solar power has seen increasing popularity. This is due to the state's favorable climate, which allows for high levels of solar energy generation, as well as the increasing availability of affordable PV panel technology. Over the past few years, several large-scale photovoltaic projects have been completed. One of the biggest currently planned is the Green River Energy Center in Emery County. The facility, which was announced in October 2022, will have a capacity of 400 MW and a 200 MW battery energy storage system.

How popular is solar in Utah today?

Solar energy is becoming increasingly popular in Utah. Recently, the state has seen a significant increase in the number of photovoltaic installations as more and more residents and businesses have begun to realize the benefits of using this clean and renewable source of energy.

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), Utah holds the 12th spot nationwide for installed solar capacity, with over 2,700 megawatts installed. This represents a significant increase from previous years and shows that harnessing the sun’s energy is gaining traction here.

One of the main reasons for the popularity of solar in Utah is the state's abundant sunshine. The state enjoys about 238 sunny days per year, which is above the US average, making it well-suited for solar energy production. Additionally, the state offers a number of incentives for residents and businesses to install PV panels, including tax credits and rebates.

Solar incentives available for Utah homeowners

As a Utah homeowner, you may want to explore the various solar incentives available to help you save money on your energy bills and reduce your carbon footprint. With the state's commitment to renewable energy and a growing emphasis on sustainability, there are several opportunities for you to take advantage of. So below, we provide an overview of the solar incentives available within the state.

The federal solar tax credit in Utah

The most crucial incentive is undoubtedly the federal solar tax credit, also known as the Investment Tax Credit (ITC). The program provides a tax credit to individuals and businesses who purchase solar energy systems. This tax credit is designed to incentivize the adoption of PV technology across the United States and encourage the growth of renewable energy.

The ITC was first introduced in 2006 as a temporary measure to help stimulate the industry’s growth. It has since been extended and expanded and currently allows for a credit of 30% of the cost of a solar system installed between 2022 and 2032. This means that if a homeowner installs a photovoltaic system for $10,000, they can claim a credit of $2,600 on their federal income tax return.

The credit will gradually decrease over the next few years before ending altogether for residential installations by 2035.

Utah solar tax credit (Utah Renewable Energy Systems Tax Credit)

Homeowners switching to solar in Utah can also benefit from the state solar tax credit, also called Renewable Energy Systems Tax Credit (RESTC). The credit is gradually decreasing and will be phased out by the end of 2023. For installations completed during 2022, the tax credit is 25 percent of the eligible system cost or $800, whichever is less. For installations completed during 2023, the maximum tax credit is $400. Therefore, if you want to take advantage of this incentive, it's best to install your photovoltaic system sooner rather than later, even though the credit is insignificant.

To qualify for the tax credit, PV panels must be installed on a property located in Utah and must be used primarily to generate electricity for the property. The householder must also obtain all necessary permits and approvals for the installation. Additionally, the solar panels must be certified by a third-party organization to meet certain performance and safety standards.

The state tax credit is designed to encourage the use of clean energy and help residents and businesses save money on their energy bills. By providing a financial incentive for installing PV panels, the authorities hope to increase the amount of renewable energy generated in the state, which can help reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

Utah net solar metering

Utahns can also benefit from net metering. It is a policy that allows individuals and businesses with photovoltaic panels installed on their property to receive credits on their electricity bills for the excess electricity they generate. This surplus power is typically fed back into the grid, where it is used by other local customers.

Net metering is an important incentive for individuals and businesses to go solar, as it helps offset the initial costs of installation and provides a financial benefit over time. The amount of credit a customer receives is determined by their utility provider and is typically equal to the retail price of electricity.

Utah solar easement

Another beneficial policy available for Uthans is a solar easement. It is a legal agreement between property owners that ensures their photovoltaic panels will have access to sunlight. This is especially important for homeowners with trees or buildings on their property that could potentially block the sun from hitting their panels.

Under the solar easement, property owners can enter into a contract with their neighbors to guarantee that their PV panels will have access to sunlight. This can be really helpful for homeowners who want to go solar but are worried about losing access to sunlight due to the placement of trees or buildings on their property.

A solar easement is a voluntary agreement, meaning property owners don't have to enter into an easement if they don't want to, and they can always negotiate the terms of the contract with their neighbors. This means that homeowners have a lot of flexibility when it comes to protecting their solar panels.

To establish a solar easement, you must submit a written agreement to the county recorder's office. The agreement must include specific information, such as the location and size of the PV panels, the duration of the easement, and any other relevant details.

Once the easement is recorded, it becomes a legally binding agreement that cannot be modified or terminated without the consent of both parties. This makes sure the property owner with the solar panels can keep using them, and the property owner who grants the easement isn't bothered by them.

Utah WattSmart battery program

The electric utility Rocky Mountain Power offers a four-year program where participants can earn incentives by allowing the company to use the energy stored in the solar batteries installed on their property. The upfront incentive is $400 per kW of installed energy storage. So, if you installed a battery bank with a 5 kW power rating, you would receive an enrollment incentive of $2,000. (5 kW x $400 per kW = $2,000.)

For the next three years, you will receive a yearly bill credit called the participation incentive, which is worth $15 per kW of installed battery capacity. So, with the same 5 kW battery as previously mentioned, your annual participation incentive will be $75.

The Wattsmart program only allows Sonnen batteries, specifically the sonnenCore, the Eco, and the EcoLinx, to participate. This limits the options for batteries that can be installed if you want to join the program.

How much does it cost to go solar in Utah?

Going solar in the Beehive State can be a cost-effective way to save on energy costs and reduce your carbon footprint. The cost of a PV installation here can vary based on a number of factors, including the size of your solar panel system and your location.

Currently, the average cost of solar in Utah is $2.7 per watt. Therefore, if you install a 5 kW solar panel system, the gross price will be around $13,500. However, after taking into account the 30% federal solar tax credit and other state and local incentives, the net price you will pay for solar will be reduced by several thousand dollars.

If you pay upfront with cash, you can expect to save over $19,400 within 20 years by installing an average-sized solar system.

Best Utah solar companies

Utah has a growing number of solar companies providing high-quality services. Today, there are almost 50 solar installers to choose from, each offering a range of PV panel brands, warranty options, and levels of customer service at different prices.

Many of these companies have a strong track record of installing PV panels on homes and commercial buildings. Below, we discuss some of the top installers with many years of experience and deep knowledge of solar.

SunPower

SunPower is a leading US solar panel manufacturer and installer. SunPower has a strong presence in Utah and has helped many homeowners and businesses transition to renewable energy. SunPower is known for being one of the nation’s best installers, but their products and services tend to be more expensive than average.

The company installs various solar products, such as panels and batteries, as well as additional products, like EV chargers. They also offer solar monitoring to ensure the system is working correctly after installation and connection. SunPower exclusively installs Maxeon panels, known for their superior quality but also higher prices. The average cost per watt is $3.30, compared to the state’s average of $2.7.

The company provides attractive warranties, including 25-year coverage for equipment, PV panel efficiency, and installation. The company also offers roof leak coverage, though this may be less useful for Utah homeowners due to the state's low annual rainfall compared to the national average.

Blue Raven Solar

Blue Raven Solar is a leading installer offering a range of high-quality PV panel systems. The company has been providing clean and affordable energy solutions to Utahns for over a decade. It has gained a reputation for providing excellent customer service and top-of-the-line solar technology.

The pricing offered by Blue Raven is lower than the average. Yet the company may not be the best option for residents looking for additional products and services related to solar energy, as the company only installs photovoltaic panels. This means that those looking for batteries, monitoring, or customization options will be unable to find what they need.

Customers of Blue Raven can choose to pay for their solar system outright or opt for the BluePower Plus+ financing program. This program includes 18 months of free solar energy and covers the costs of design, permitting, and installation. Customers can expect a fixed monthly payment and interest rate, the option to pay off the loan at any time without penalty, a 25-year manufacturer warranty, and a two-year power production guarantee.

ES Solar

Based in Layton, UT, ES Solar is a highly regarded local installer that has been operating since 2009. The company offers a full range of solar installation services, including panels, batteries, and additional products and services. Over the years, ES Solar has earned a stellar reputation and consistently received positive reviews, leading to growth and expansion into nearby states.

While the pricing of ES Solar may be above average compared to other solar companies, it is comparable to SunPower and well worth the investment. The installer offers exceptional products and customer service that are worth the money.

Additionally, the company stands out in the industry with its unique lifetime warranty on workmanship and a 25-year manufacturer’s warranty on the equipment. Overall, ES Solar is an excellent choice for those looking for high-quality products and services.

Conclusion: is solar power worth it in Utah?

Switching to solar in Utah is worth it for several reasons. First, the state has plenty of sunshine, making it an ideal location for solar power. It ranks among the top ten states with the most peak sunlight hours per day, with an average of 5.26 hours. This means that solar panels in Utah can generate a significant amount of electricity, reducing the need for traditional energy sources like coal and natural gas.

Another reason to go solar is the cost savings. With the increasing cost of electricity from traditional sources, installing photovoltaic panels can help save money on monthly energy bills. Additionally, various incentives and rebates are available for those who switch to solar energy. For example, the state offers a tax credit of up to 25% of the total cost of a PV installation.

Furthermore, Utah has a growing solar industry, with many local companies offering high-quality products and services. This means homeowners can access a wide range of options when choosing a solar provider and feel confident in their investment.

Overall, going solar in Utah is a smart financial decision that can save homeowners money on their energy bills and support the state's renewable energy goals.

Sources:

https://programs.dsireusa.org/system/program/detail/2901#:~:text=Utah%20enacted%20The%20Energy%20Resource,certain%20other%20provisions%20in%20S.B

https://www.solarpowerworldonline.com/2022/10/rplus-energies-is-developing-utahs-largest-solar-storage-project/#:~:text=The%20Green%20River%20Energy%20Center,and%20CEO%20of%20rPlus%20Energies

https://www.seia.org/state-solar-policy/utah-solar

Posted 
Jul 6, 2023
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