Did you know that Texas and Oklahoma have three things in common? And one big difference? The things in common are easy: oil, cowboys, and lots of solar power potential. All things that we share with those neighboring Lone Star Staters.
And the big fat difference? Well, Texas has put the pedal-to-the-metal on its solar power program. Oklahoma has simply slammed the breaks on.
A sad story maybe, but it doesn’t have to be sad for you. Because, despite the state’s lack of support for clean, green, energy-independence-bringing solar power for Okie homeowners, that big ball of fiery gas in the sky is still very much on our side.
The sun pours down enough sunshine out of Oklahoma’s endless blue skies to make solar PV a fantastic idea — even if the state government is stubbornly getting in the way.
If you get those panels on your roof, you’ll power your home, save the planet and still make a little money for yourself.
And here at Solar Nation, we can show you how.
You check out their quotes, and choose from the best. Before long you’ll be fast-forwarding our solar future. Which is only right in the Sooner state.
Getting a bit of local advice is important for those planning to go solar in Oklahoma.
With the state government nowhere to be seen on regulating the local solar scene, what you can and can’t do varies from one utility to the next.
Some are supporting solar, at least in theory. Others are keener to get in the way.
It makes things a little bit more complex than in most other states — unless you’re in touch with those in the know.
What is simple about Oklahoma’s solar scene is the thing that makes it all possible—the sun.
Okies are up to their necks in the stuff.
In Tulsa there’s almost 1,900 kWh of free electricity available from the sun,for every square yard of roof.
Jump over to OKC and that flood of solar power is over 2,000 kWh. And way out west in the Panhandle you could be looking at 2,300 kWh per square meter of panel.
Those numbers are as good as any you’ll see in solar-happy places like California.
Time we grabbed a slice of all that free energy going to waste, we say.
Let’s take a look at what sort of return you can expect for your investment in planet-saving solar power.
Oklahoma Solar Power: Check your Savings, Costs, Tax Breaks, Incentives and Rebates
Return on Investment for Residential Solar Power in Oklahoma
The return on investment for solar power is an important number. That’s because putting a solar system on your roof isn’t just about cleaning our air, growing high-tech jobs, or boosting energy independence.
It’s also an investment that can make you some serious money.
By looking at the Internal Rate of Return (IRR) of solar and comparing it to stocks and shares, you get a feel for how good that investment will be.
But to calculate IRR, we need to decide a few things. How big, for how long, and where, for starters.
Well let’s assume you’re buying 5 kW solar panels in OKC and that they’ll be working that sunlight for 25 years.
Based on that, we reckon on an IRR of 5.4% throughout the lifetime of your panels.
That’s good, if not spectacular, but equal to many stocks. And the rate would be much higher, if the state got behind solar, and if Oklahoma’s electricity rates weren’t so artificially low.
“Artificially low? What do you mean?”
We’ll go into that later, but let’s just say that Oklahoma’s electricity isn’t the cleanest in the U.S. And someone, somewhere is paying the cost for all that pollution.
Now let’s take a look at some of the other numbers. Numbers that matter. Like the tens of thousands of dollars you’re going to be saving.
Buying a 5KW Solar System—an Oklahoma case study
Costs for installing solar PV panels have come down a lot over the last few years. Where once you might have been looking at a solar panel cost of $20,000 for a 5kW solar system, today it’s closer to $15,000.
1. Well, an average of 20 kWh of clean electricity per day,just for starters. 2. That adds up to 7,600 kWh of power generated by your home in the first year. 3. Given an average Okie uses 13,000 kWh, we’re talking about a 60% cut to your bill!
1. Well, an average of 20 kWh of clean electricity per day,just for starters.
2. That adds up to 7,600 kWh of power generated by your home in the first year.
3. Given an average Okie uses 13,000 kWh, we’re talking about a 60% cut to your bill!
Good news for your bank balance, for Oklahoma’s air quality, and most of all, for our planet.
But what about that $15,000 outlay? Well, we can actually cut that down a little.
2. Now,Oklahoma City has 8.4% sale tax in total. The price goes to $16,250. Boo!
3. But, here’s the feds coming to the rescue. As a taxpayer you’ll get a 30% Income Tax Credit (ITC)for your solar system.
4. That brings us down to a more manageable $11k first year cost.
5. But we’re forgetting something. Bill savings. That lops off another $670 from your bill.
6. So you’ll only have paid out a net $10,700 in those first 12 months.
But the savings will keep on rolling in, year after year:
1. Over our 25-year time frame, if your utility bill never rose once, you’d save $16,800.
2. But utility rates do rise. By at least 3% a year on average across the U.S.
3. Now your savings pile really swells—to just under $23,000!
4. That’s not the end. Your home will see a similar boost in its value, too.
So $23,000 saved from $10,000 invested.
Don’t know about you, but those are some pretty impressive numbers.
Oklahoma Solar Power Incentives, Tax Breaks and Rebates
That’s the good news. Now here’s where we have to get a little stern with Oklahoma’s state government.
Most other states have worked out that going solar is an all-round “good thing.”
Not only does it cut back on pollution (and all the ill-health caused by smoggy air), and save the planet (by cutting back on CO2 and other greenhouse gases). It also makes their citizens less dependent on utilities, and a little bit richer into the bargain, too.
In most state’s that’s a good news story they’re keen to encourage. That’s why so many offer incentives, tax breaks and rebates.
By putting panels on the roof, you’re actually helping out everyone else in the state.
The bad news is that Oklahoma has yet to see things like that.
Let’s run through all the things that other states do, but which are still on Oklahoma’s to-do list. And despite the negatives, keep in mind that solar will work well for you here—even without cheer leading from the government.
An RPS is really just a target for renewable energy, set by the state. But it has to be a target with teeth.
The idea is to goad utilities into greening their electricity supply by penalizing them if they don’t meet the target. So does Oklahoma have an RPS?
Nope. It has a Renewable Energy Goal.
That really is just a ‘wouldn’t-it-be-nice’ target, with no stick behind it. And the ‘goal’ is a distinctly unimpressive 15% of electricity to be renewable.
Unimpressive? Well that’s because it’s already been met.
And not by solar-powered homes, but by the growing swathes of wind farms stretching across the prairies. Which is kind of cool, and kind of not.
Cool because we love wind power, and the clean energy it generates.
Not so cool, because investing in all those huge turbines and mammoth wind farms does nothing to let the little guys in. That’s one of the most exciting things about solar—it’s the key to taking power away from the big utilities, and giving it back to their customers.
Customers who can become generators themselves.
Big wind is another way of putting us all back in the box. We want to keep the box open. We think big wind (and big solar) can work well alongside the little guys, generating solar power on their roofs.
What is an RPS really?
You’ll often hear the letters ‘RPS’ thrown about when talking about solar energy. But what exactly is a ‘Renewable Portfolio Standard’?
Basically, it’s a state law setting binding targets for clean energy. RPS have been really useful in getting the utilities to take renewable energy generation seriously.
When a state sets an RPS target, it’s saying that utilities must generate a certain amount of their electricity from renewable sources, usually by a certain date. If not, they’ll be fined.
After all, power companies need a push. Most still make money selling us more and more energy. They’re not best pleased that we’re starting to generate our own power.
The threat of fines makes the utilities extra keen to offer their customers incentives, rebates, and grants for their solar systems. Everyone wins.
They avoid the fine, and you get the low-cost solar power. Without an RPS, utilities are less likely to help with solar or wind power for their customers.
Oklahoma tax credit
State income tax credit (ITC) is another good idea for rewarding those helping to green the Sooner state. But good ideas are in short supply when it comes to sun power here.
So there’s no state-based ITC in Oklahoma.
Are there any Rebates for Solar Power in Oklahoma?
Another no. Both the state and the utilities steer clear of the sorts of rebates common in many solar-friendly states.
Does have any Oklahoma Tax Exemptions?
More no’s here, too. It’s not unusual for states to tax–exempt things that are good for the health of its citizens. Like solar power panels, for example. But the full whack of state and local sales taxes gets applied here in OK. Which isn’t OK.
That amounts to another 4.5% minimum added (and as much as 8.4% in Oklahoma City when city sales taxes are added). Ouch.
But at least the 30% fed ITC gives you some of that money back.
The other big no-no is to a property tax exemption.
In an ideal world, you wouldn’t be taxed extra for this rise in value.
Solar power is, in part, for the common good after all. But in Oklahoma you’ll face additional property tax after your panels are installed and those emissions slashed.
Oklahoma Electricity Rates
Electricity costs in Oklahoma have long been well below those of most other states.
In 2015 the state-wide average was 10.2 cents per kWh.Given that the average U.S. family pays out over 12.5 c/kWh to power their homes, Okies are sitting pretty when it comes to utility bills.
But hold on. Low rates might seem like a good idea. But what if those low prices come from making electricity with dirty fossil fuels?
Oklahoma’s electricity is one of the dirtiest in the U.S., pushing out 1.7 pounds of CO2 for every kWh produced.
That makes us the 14th most polluting in the nation, even with all the wind power that’s been added of late. Given that pollution passes costson to others—whether its respiratory problems or homes being drowned by rising seas—you could say rates are too low.
Is there Net Metering in Oklahoma?
An Okie version of this neat little trick for turning your home into a mini-power plant has been around here for a long time. Three decades actually, as the law was passed in 1988. Back when the legislature was still forward looking on clean energy.
With Net Metering, it’s like you have 2 meters for your household.
One to track the electricity you buy from the utility. And another to track the electricity you sell back to the same power company.
That second meter spins backwards when the amount of electricity you generate exceeds the electric you use.
That can happen a lot in Oklahoma’s sunshine-filled days of summer.
And yep, you heard us right. A meter that spins backwards and earns you money.
The bad news (there had to be some) is that you aren’t allowed to automatically roll over any of those credits on your monthly bill. So, if some months you make more than you use, the utility can get that extra electricity from you for free.
The Net Metering law does let you ask the utility for some payment for your excess solar power. But they’re under no obligation to say “yes.”
Most, predictably, say “no.”
What's Net Metering anyways?
Net metering is a vital part of making solar power work for homeowners. Done properly, it means little is wasted—even when the power you generate, and the power you use, aren’t exactly balanced.
That’s important because the electricity your system produces varies as the sun moves round the sky. When the sun is highest in summer you may actually produce more electricity than you use. Under net metering, that extra power gets sent to the grid.
And you become the power station for the utility.
Under a proper Net Metering scheme, the utility has to pay you for the energy you’re supplying to them. Most often this is at the retail electricity rate, the rate you normally pay them. And it allows for rollovers of credits from one month to the next—or even year to year.
Are there 0 down payment financing Options in Oklahoma?
Yes! And err.. no!
The complete range of pay-nothing-now options isn’t available in Oklahoma.
You can take out a solar loan with no down-payment, no problem. But solar leases and power purchase agreements (PPAs), where a third-party supplies your power, aren’t legal.
Tons of people have switched onto solar as a result.
Solar power for the cash-constrained, we call it.
But in Oklahoma, those who don’t have the cash upfront will have to rely on loans alone. They can work well, though. Especially if you can tap the equity in your home.
Let’s run through the zero-down solar schemes you can use—as well as those that are currently off the table.
Just fill out a few contact details on this form. Then you’ll be able to talk through the solar loan options with selected Oklahoma installers.
Solar Power Loan?
This zero-down option is a great way to be solar powered, without having to raid your cash savings. It also keeps you in-charge.
You’ll own your solar panels, and can choose whether to make a small initial payment, or no payment at all.
Solar loans aren’t just for the cash-poor. They can provide better rates of return than an outright purchase—especially if you can tap the low rates of a home-equity line of credit.
Solar Lease in Oklahoma?
Leasing would work wonders for those who can’t tap the equity in their home for a loan. Or those who can’t access the upfront cash for a purchase. A lease would let you put $0 down, get those panels on your roof, and then watch the savings roll in.
The savings wouldn’t be as impressive as using your own money. But you could still be saving from day one of your lease, if the sun resource is good enough. Which in Oklahoma’s case, it is.
But as we’ve said, the law in Oklahoma doesn’t let you take his option yet. Hopefully it will, Sooner or later…
PPA Option on Oklahoma?
This is the other approach for going solar with no (or little) upfront cost. PPAs are similar to leases, but rather than paying a fee to lease the panels from a third-party, you’re only paying for the power that they produce.
Except that, again,Oklahoma’s law stops you from using the services of a third-party energy supplier. It’s power the utility’s way, or no power at all.
What is PPA?
A Power Purchase Agreement, or PPA, is an agreement between you and your solar panel provider. You provide them with the roof for the panels.
They provide you with power at a guaranteed price.
Like a lease, you could benefit from solar power without worrying about details like planning, installation, equipment upgrades, maintenance, and cleaning.
Most PPAs also have an option for you to buy the system at the end of the contract, which can add real value to your home.
These escalators are a reasonable way for the solar panel company to take gradual performance and maintenance issues into account over its lifetime.
But you don’t need to worry about them, of course.
PPAs are still a no-no here.
Is there Feed In Tariff in Oklahoma?
Let us guess—no?
Correct. There’s nothing as exciting as a full-blown Feed In Tariif scheme here (they are admittedly, pretty rare in the U.S.). But there’s not even a performance payment incentive. Those extra little fillips of cash, to encourage the switch over to green electricity, are not unusual in many states.
But with no RPS, tax credit, rebate, tax exemption, or even PPAs available in Oklahoma, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that Feed In Tariffs and performance incentives can be added to that list.
Loans vs Purchase: What's best for Oklahoma Homeowners?
As with many things, the choice between a loan and a purchase depends on how you see risk and reward. And on how much skin you want in the solar game.
A loan works well for the risk adverse. For those who want to help clean up our energy, and cut pollution, but without taking on the hassles (and big initial outlay) of purchase.
Purchasing is good for those with the money to invest.
For those who also want to make the most of the benefits and incentives out there for switching onto the sun.
At the moment, in Oklahoma, rates of return are (no pun intended, honest) merely OK. So if you have the cash, purchasing will earn you good savings. But it’s no super star investment.
A solar loan will let you earn savings with little (or nothing) down, which effectively boosts the rate of return.
But remember that, because of the loan payments, your overall savings will be somewhat less.
What is the Solar Panel Installation Process in Oklahoma?
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 and recommend the best solar panels for you home. This will highlight potential tax rebates, breaks, and incentives that may be available to you.
They’ll 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.
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
4. Once your system is installed, just sit back, relax—and watch the savings roll in
The promise and potential of solar in the Sooner state is as big and wide as its skies. If every roof in Oklahoma had a solar panel, we’d be able to generate almost half of our electricity from the sun alone.
That’s why the time to act now. The solar revolution needs its pioneers. Its trail-blazers and frontier-crossers. Its Okies.
Let’s get that wagon rolling!