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Where does it make the most financial sense for Mountain West homeowners to go solar?

Solar panel technician with drill installing solar panels on house roof on a sunny day.
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Homeowners who have solar systems installed between 2022 and 2032 can claim a federal tax credit of 30% of the installation cost.

Many Americans are trying to lower their energy bill – and carbon footprint– by turning to rooftop solar panels. A new report shows where in the U.S. it makes the most financial sense to go solar.

Nevada ranks as the second-best state for homeowners to adopt solar energy, according to ConsumerAffairs, which analyzed states’ energy prices, solar policies, panel installation costs, and other factors. Hawaii tops the group’s list for homeowners to turn to rooftop solar systems.

The report found Nevada has some of the highest solar energy potential at 5.18 kilowatt-hours per square meter per day, and lowest installation costs at $2.57 per watt. The state also has pro-solar regulations like net metering, which allows homeowners to collect hefty credits for any excess electricity they produce from their solar system.

Other Mountain West states that crack the top 20 are New Mexico (16th) and Utah (20th). Falling in the middle of the rankings are Colorado (24th) and Wyoming (27th). Meanwhile, ranking near the bottom is Idaho (43rd).

ConsumerAffairs’ Justin Martino said homeowners in the Mountain West and beyond want certainty that going solar will lower their bills and meet their energy needs.

“The states that you can see that are being very proactive about it, they're setting up the regulation, they are looking 20-25 years in the future, trying to make sure that what they set up now will last that long,” Martino said. “You're seeing more people feel confident about going solar.”

Federal incentives can also help. Homeowners who have solar systems installed between 2022 and 2032 can claim a tax credit of 30% of the installation cost. The tax credit will decrease to 26% in 2033 and down to 22% in 2034 before it expires in 2035, unless Congress renews it.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, KUNC in Colorado and KANW in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Kaleb is an award-winning journalist and KUNR’s Mountain West News Bureau reporter. His reporting covers issues related to the environment, wildlife and water in Nevada and the region.

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