We all know that Alaska and the sunshine don’t always get along so well. Especially when the nights draw-in, in winter.
Which makes the idea that solar power can slash the bills of Alaskan homeowners a bit of joke, right? Wrong.
Alaska may be no solar los angeles, but here in the Land of the Midnight Sun we actually get more sunshine than Germany.
And those savvy Germans have been saving sack-loads of Euros of late, thanks to their moving over to solar power in a big way.
In fact, German electricity rates have been falling for over 12 years now, in part thanks to their massive investment in rooftop solar.
And if you also want to save fistfuls of dollars on your bill, we can make it happen in a few clicks
Not only can turning to solar cut your utility bills. You can even say goodbye to them entirely.
Right-size your solar system, invest in the latest battery technology, and you can go independent of the power company altogether. And while the State government isn’t exactly falling over itself to help get solar PV on your roof, there are still plenty of incentives available.
In fact, if you play the solar game smartly, you can cut your initial outlay significantly. Or, if your bank balance isn’t up to it, there are several low-cost or zero-down options for homeowners.
Here at Solar Nation we’re happy to help you sort out the pros and cons of the deals available in Alaska.
We’ll show you everything you need to know to make the Alaskan sun your newest, best-est friend.
Alaska Solar Power
Check your Savings, Costs, Tax Breaks, Incentives and Rebates Return on Investment for Residential Solar Power in Alaska.
Solar power is changing the world. Power is coming back to the people. Heck, it’s even saving the world, as the sun replaces polluting fossil fuel plants.
But let’s forget those heart-warming and hug-able benefits for the moment. Because going solar is also as good for the savings-pot as for the soul.
A real money-spinner, even this close to the Arctic Circle.
The rates of return look good too, even next to the stock market. They pan out at nearly a 10% lifetime return for a typical PV system.
Let’s have a dig into those numbers:
5KW System – An Alaskan Case Study
Let’s keep things simple. Our case study will be for a home somewhere in the middle of the state, say around Anchorage.
Here you will be soaking up as many as 19 hours of daylight in the summer. For a mid-sized 5kW system, the outright cost is around $15,000 these days. A lot less than it was. And we can cut that shrinking outlay even more.
But first, lets see what will those panels be doing for you?
1. How about 14 kWh of free electricity for you daily. And up to 30 kWh daily during June’s endless summer days.
2. In a year, that’s over 5,260 kWh of electricity for you and your family to use—without having to pay the utility company a cent
Of course it’s not entirely free. But those costs are tumbling:
1. You’ll have to pay $15,000 for the panels first.
2. But throw in the Income Tax Credit (ITC) and we’re talking only $10,500 outlay for the average taxpayer.
That’s peanuts compared to the money you could save:
1. Over a lifetime you’re looking to save at least $23,000. That’s if electricity rates stay at the average $0.19/kWh Alaskans paid in 2014 (not likely given recent rate hikes).
2. Assume electric rates rise by a more likely 3% a year and your savings on your $10,500 investment would be nearly $33,000!
And don’t forget we haven’t even talked about other incentives—and the zero-down payment options—that are out there, yet.
If you really want to make the numbers behind solar add up for you, it couldn’t be simpler.
Alaska Solar Power Incentives, Tax Breaks and Rebates
As we’ve already said, the law makers in Juneau haven’t really gotten round to helping homeowners cut their energy bills with solar power.
But there are still a few incentives floating around to help you get your home solar-ready.
One is the feed-in tariff run by Golden Valley Electric Association (GVEA) in the Fairbank area.
They’ll actually pay you extra money for any excess electricity you send to the grid. But more on that below.
Another helpful program is the Home Energy Rebate Program. It shells out up to $10,000 to homeowners looking to improve their home’s energy efficiency.
Better still, there’s a tax break on your property when you install solar panels.
Properties go up massively in value when you switch to clean, green solar power. But the state has legislated that this extra value shouldn’t be countedfor your property tax.
Renewable Portfolio Standards (see below) have been great for kicking utilities into action. They help them to get on-board with turning their customers onto renewables like solar.
Sadly, Alaska hasn’t decided to adopt such a target for renewables—as yet.
What is RPS really?
You’ll hear lots of talk about ‘RPS’when looking into solar energy. These ‘Renewable Portfolio Standards’ are state laws to promote clean energy.
They have been really helpful in getting the utility companies on-side, when it comes to the big switch-over to renewables.
When a state sets an RPS, they’re telling the utilities that a certain amount of their electricity has to be produced from renewable sources—or else they’ll be fined.
So it’s a great big stick to get power companies to change their ways.
Alaska tax credit
Many states also offer a tax credit of their own for solar systems. But not Alaska. No surprise of course, as Alaska doesn’t even have its own income tax!
But if you’re a federal tax payer, you’ll still qualify for a 30% ITC (income tax credit).
Are there any Rebates for Solar Power in Alaska?
Sadly, not as yet. No RPS means that Alaskan utilities can afford to sit on their hands, when it comes to customers wanting to save money through solar power.
Alaska Tax Exemptions
Again, with no sales or income tax,Alaska doesn’t offer any tax exemptions for the money you’ve spent on your system.
Looking on the bright side, at least you know that the cost of your solar PV system will be exactly what it says on the price tag.
And of course your federal tax credit will be all the fatter, for not having deductions from state taxes.
It also makes the whole process that little bit simpler, with only 1 tax credit application to deal with.
Alaska Electricity Rates
Alaska electricity rates only seem to come in two bands—high and higher. It’s a little odd that the state with the highest energy production (per head) in the U.S.is also the state with the second highest utility rates in the nation!
Those rates, averaged out across the state, reached $0.195 per kWh in 2014. But away from the cities of the Railbelt, you can be talking about rates higher than $0.40/kWh in remoter places, like White Mountain.
The silver lining in those high bills for Alaskans is that every kWh of electricity you get from solar power is a whole sled-full of money you’re saving —and much more than in nearly every other state.
Is there Net Metering in Alaska?
Yes! And net metering is where Alaska really starts to shine for those wanting to save money (and the planet) by hooking up to the sun.
You’ll get the “going-rate” for all the excess electricity your system generates. So net metering makes the whole thing even more profitable.
In Alaska’s case, the utilities have to pay the retail rate for all the electricity you supply them, for any system that’s less than 25kW in size.
Which means just about all residential customers benefit when the meter starts turning backwards.
What’s net metering anyways?
Net metering is one of the most vital pieces of the jigsaw when it comes to renewables.
With the new clean energy systems, you’re not just saving your bills.
You’re playing your part in an energy revolution.
Power from the sun varies as the sun moves round the sky. And when the sun is high, in the summer months, you’ll actually be producing much more electricity than you use.
Which is when you become the power station for the grid. Rather than letting that extra energy go to waste, net metering lets your meter spin backwards. And as it spins, it earns you money.
The utility actually starts paying you for the energy you’re supplying to the grid.
Solar Payment Options
Are there 0 down payment financing Options in Alaska?
Yes. This is one of the biggest things to have changed in the solar market of late.
Because not everyone wants to invest a big pile of cash in a solar system, companies now offer a whole host zero-down options.
These could be leases of the system. They could be solar loans.
They could even be performance-guaranteed contracts, called PPAs (Power PurchaseAgreements).
Of course, you’ll find your rate of return will be a little lower with 0 down options.
But you’ll still be saving—both the planet and your bank balance.
Solar Lease in Alaska?
Solar leases are definitely available to Alaskan homeowners. They’re great way to get all of the benefits of solar, without having to own the system yourself.
Maintenance and upgrades are down to the owner, not you.
Watch out for performance-guarantee clauses, though. These are an essential part of today’s solar leases. With them, you’ll find your lessor to be super-keen to keep your system in top condition.
Without them, you might find things like the cleaning of the panels fall down to you.
Solar Power Loan?
If you’d prefer to own your solar panels, but with only a small (or zero) outlay, then a solar loan could be right up your street.
This way you’ll be able to get on the solar bandwagon without tapping into your cash savings.
And you’ll benefit from the federal ITC, and any other incentives you can hoover up from the utility or state government.
With most solar loans readily funded from the 25-30-years of reliable, regular bill savings, interest rates can be low too.
PPA Option on Alaska?
The PPA market has also been an important part of the solar scene in Alaska.
What is PPA?
A Power Purchase Agreement, or PPA, is a partnership between you and a solar panel provider.
You provide them with the roof or grounds for the panels. They provide you with power at a guaranteed price.
Like a lease, you’ll be able to benefit from solar power without worrying about those annoying little details—like planning, installation, equipment upgrades, and maintenance.
One thing to look out for, though, is a price escalator. This is where the price rises on a fixed basis throughout your PPA contract.
These can be a reasonable way for solar panel providers to account for gradual performance and maintenance issues with the equipment, over its lifetime.
Just make sure the PPA escalator isn’t too steep.
Once you’ve provided us with some basic details about you and your home, we’ll connect you to respected local solar firms. They’ll quickly help turn your solar dream into reality.
Is there Feed in Tariff in Alaska?
There’s no state-wide feed-in tariff available in Alaska. This is a real shame, as it’s one of the best ways to boost the savings to be made from going solar.
However, one of the biggest utility providers in Fairbank—the Golden Valley Electric Association (GVEA)—do have an interesting scheme that works like a feed-in tariff.
Called the Sustainable Natural Alternative Power (or SNAP), the scheme pays their customers extra for producing their own energy.
Wonderful, you say might say. And it is. But the SNAP scheme gets its funds from the generosity of donors. And so the incentive can be as little as still a few cents per kWh.
That can still ratchet up to a couple of hundred dollars per year of extra savings though.
So if you’re a GEVA customer, SNAP is worth looking into.
Leasing vs Purchasing: What's best for Alaskan Homeowners?
As with many things, the choice between leasing and purchasing depends on your appetite for risk and reward. And how much cold hard cash you want to pony-up to take part in the solar dream.
Leasing works well for the risk adverse. For those who are keen to do their bit to knock down pollution, but who don’t want to make big payments up-front for the privilege.
Purchasing is ideal for those who have the money to buy outright. For those who also want to enjoy ALL the benefits—not just the green kudos—from switching onto the sun.
What is the Solar Panel Installation Process in Alaska?
The solar installation process starts with home visit by an energy assessment team. They’ll talk to you about your bills, how best to site your system, and the financial options available.
Once they’ve got the measure of your place, and found out exactly what your needs are, they’ll be provide you with a fully detailed PV quote.
It will also give you detailed breakdown of the savings you can expect to make.
Once you’ve agreed and signed your agreement, the solar installation team can schedule a date for transforming your house from energy sink into a solar-powered energy producer!
The installation process usually only takes three to four days.
It all takes a few simple steps:
- 1. Fill in our simple solar form
- 2. Receive quotes from the best local solar suppliers
- 3. Choose the best money-saving solar option for you
Once your system is installed, just sit back, relax—and watch the savings roll in.
Alaskans have always been proud of their independent, can-do frontier spirit. Now Alaska is the big, cold state where solar power is finally hotting-up.
You too can be part of the state’s newest frontier, one that’s changing the way energy works.
When it comes to making power in the 21st century, the utilities are out and homeowners are in.
For those leading the way, high-energy costs will soon be a thing of the past.
In Alaska the options to go solar—and build a brighter future—are already in-place.
We’ll then be able to connect you with tried-and-trusted Alaskan solar installers, finding a firm that’s the perfect fit for you.