Utah is among the seven states in the U.S. that have been identified as having the greatest potential for solar power. The others are California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona and Texas.
As of 2016, about 1% of Utah’s total electricity came from photovoltaic (PV) solar panels installed on homes and businesses. Solar PV capacity in Utah has increased rapidly in recent years, growing by nearly 20-fold between 2010 and 2016.
Why go solar?
There are a number of reasons for Utah’s solar power boom.
- Solar is becoming increasingly cost-competitive with other forms of energy generation. The cost of PV solar panels has fallen by more than 70% since 2010, making them much more affordable for homeowners and businesses.
- Federal and state incentives make going solar more attractive. Homeowners and businesses that install solar PV systems can take advantage of the federal Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), which provides a tax credit equal to 30% of the system’s cost.
- Solar power is a clean source of energy that doesn’t produce harmful emissions. This is important to many people in Utah, who value the state’s beautiful natural environment.
- Solar power can help to reduce electric bills. Solar PV systems generate electricity that can be used to offset the home or business’s consumption from the grid. This can lead to significant savings on electric bills, especially in states with high electricity rates like Utah.
- Solar PV systems have a relatively small environmental footprint. The manufacturing of solar panels does require energy and materials, but the emissions associated with this process are dwarfed by the emissions reductions achieved over the lifetime of the system.
- Solar power is a reliable source of energy. PV solar panels will continue to generate electricity even when the grid goes down, which can be valuable during power outages.
- Solar PV systems add value to homes and businesses. A study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that homes with solar panels sell for an average of 4.1% more than comparable homes without solar.
- Solar power is a growing industry in Utah, providing jobs for local residents. The Solar Foundation’s Solar Census found that the solar industry employed nearly 3,000 people in Utah in 2016, a figure that is expected to grow in the years ahead.
- Solar power can help to achieve energy independence. Generating electricity from PV solar panels reduces the need for imported fossil fuels, which helps to keep energy dollars within the state.
How do I get started with solar?
Now that you know why solar panels are becoming popular in Utah, you may be wondering how to get started with solar. The first step is to find out if your home or business is a good candidate for PV solar panels. Factors that affect suitability include the building’s location, orientation, and shading; the amount of available roof or ground space; and the local climate.
The next step is to get an estimate of how much it would cost to install a PV solar system. This can be done using online tools like the Solar Energy Industries Association’s Solar Estimate calculator.
Once you have a general idea of the cost, you can start shopping around for solar contractors. It’s important to choose a reputable company that has experience installing PV solar systems in Utah.
You should also consider the financial incentives that are available to make going solar more affordable. In addition to the federal ITC, many utilities offer rebates or other programs that can reduce the cost of a PV solar system. For example, Rocky Mountain Power’s Solar photovoltaic program offers a rebate of $1.35 per watt for systems that are 10 kilowatts (kW) or less.
The final step is to have the PV solar system installed and start generating your own clean, renewable energy!