Residents of Nevada can bask in some 250 days of sunshine every year, but when it comes to installing solar panels, they’re mostly on their own.
That’s because, despite its sunny climate, the state of Nevada offers relatively few rebates that make it more affordable for homeowners to put solar panels on the roof or elsewhere on their property. The most generous financial programs available to Nevadans are offered at the federal level, with only a few small incentives from the Nevada government and utilities.
Here’s a guide to what’s available in Nevada, and how you can use it to make solar more feasible for you.
Comparing Nevada solar panel incentives
|Federal solar tax credit||This national perk lets you credit 30% of the cost of your solar panel system from your tax bill.||All Nevada residents.||About $7,200 for the national average cost of an 8kW solar system|
|Net metering||Nevada residents with grid-tied solar systems can sell electricity back to their utility at 75% of the retail rate.||New solar customers. Established customers may earn a higher rate.||75% of the electricity retail rate for the energy sent back to the grid. Varies by energy consumption and production.|
|Solar thermal heating incentive||Customers of NV Energy can qualify for up to 50% of a thermal space or water heating system.||For water heating systems: any NV Energy customer. For space heating system: NV Energy natural gas customers.||50% of a thermal solar heating system, up to $3,000|
Nevada state solar tax credits, exemptions and loan programs
Unfortunately, the state of Nevada doesn’t offer any special tax credits or loan programs for solar panels themselves. That being said, there’s at least one program offered by the state’s utility companies that can help build out a larger home energy system connected to solar.
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Solar thermal heating incentive
Nevada utility company NV Energy has a program designed to help residents install a solar thermal system, which collects the sun’s energy and uses it for a hot water or space heater in your home.
Residents can qualify for up to 50% off the cost of solar thermal, with a maximum rebate of $3,000.
Local solar panel incentives in Nevada
Residents in Nevada’s major cities won’t be receiving much extra help from their municipality.
While there are no extra financial incentives for solar at the local level, one city has made the process a bit easier. Reno has streamlined its permitting process — often a big hurdle in solar installations — to make it faster and less onerous for customers. The city also has a program incentivizing commercial property owners to install renewable energy.
Local rebates for solar appliances in Nevada
When it comes to solar appliances, solar water heaters might be the most affordable option for Nevada residents.
NV Energy, the utility company, offers a financial incentive to offset the cost of a solar thermal water heater. The program can cover up to 50% of the appliance cost, with a cap of $3,000.
That same solar thermal incentive can also apply to solar thermal space heaters, a system that collects the sun’s warmth and distributes it through a home using fans and pumps.
Federal solar tax credits and incentives for Nevada residents
Where Nevada may be lacking in solar tax credits, the federal government makes up for it in some ways. The biggest incentive you need to know about is the residential clean energy credit.
This federal program covers up to 30% of the cost of a new solar installation, made between now and 2033 (the credit can also apply to water heaters, wind turbines, geothermal heat pumps, fuel cells and battery storage technology).
This federal incentive, while generous, won’t come directly in the form of cash in your pocket. Instead, it reduces the amount of money you pay in federal taxes. For example, if you installed a $15,000 solar array, you’d qualify for a federal tax credit of $4,500. That means your tax bill in the following year would be lowered by $4,500.
Nevada net metering rules for solar energy
Net metering is the most significant financial incentive for solar in Nevada.
If you’re not familiar with the concept, net metering allows customers to get paid for the extra solar energy they don’t use by sending it back to the electric utility.
Net metering in Nevada applies to all rooftop solar arrays that are less than 25 kilowatts. The payback rates are divided into tiers, though all but one of them are closed off to new customers.
Here’s the breakdown of rates you’d get paid for the extra power your solar panels generate.
- Tier 1: 95% of the retail rate. This applied to solar customers who signed up after June, 2017, but before the tier reached its maximum number of customers in 2018. Customers who made it into this tier can hold onto the rate for 20 years.
- Tier 2: 88% of the retail rate. This next tranche of signups lasted from 2018 to 2019. Again, customers who made it into this tier can hold onto the rate for 20 years.
- Tier 3: 81% of the retail rate. After opening in 2019, this tier of net metering hit capacity and closed to new customers in 2020. Again, customers who made it into this tier can hold onto the rate for 20 years.
- Tier 4: 75% of the retail rate. This is the tier currently open to new solar customers. An unlimited number of residents can sign up (unless the net metering rules are changed by legislative action). Again, customers who make it into this tier can hold onto the rate for 20 years.
Community solar projects in Nevada
Not everyone owns a home on which they can install solar panels; that’s where community solar comes in.
Community solar allows customers to subscribe to a piece of a commercial solar farm. This means you pay a reduced rate for electricity, while at the same time supporting renewable energy projects.
In Nevada, the utility NV Energy has been working on community solar projects since 2019, and as of 2022, there were 2,000 customers signed up — mostly low-income households.
The program is likely to grow: State law requires NV Energy to build between six and 20 community solar facilities.
You can learn more about the Expanded Solar Access Program, as NV Energy calls it, and sign up on the utility’s website.