Federal and state incentives can help West Virginia residents lower the upfront cost of purchasing solar panels.
Solar energy generation is modest in West Virginia, but if you live in the Mountain State, it could help you offset rising electric bills.
While the state ranks 48th for installed solar capacity and gets a small fraction of its power from solar, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, going solar could provide you with more affordable and stable electricity costs.
Electricity rates have steadily increased in West Virginia over the years. Mon Power, one of the largest utilities in the state, raised its rates by $5.50 a month for an average West Virginia residential user last fall with a second hike slated for 2024.
As utility companies in the Mountain State increase electricity costs, your savings from solar panels can be significant. The average electricity rate in West Virginia is $136.02. You can dramatically lower or eliminate your electricity bills with solar. Here's what you should know if you are considering going solar in West Virginia.
West Virginia is far behind other states in solar generation, making it difficult to find state-level cost data. Here's a look at national average pricing based on the Tracking the Sun report from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory so West Virginians can get an idea of what to expect.
|System size (kW)||Price per watt||Installed cost|
There are various ways to finance solar panels in West Virginia. You can purchase solar panels outright or finance them with a solar loan. You can also enter a solar lease or a power purchase agreement if you can't afford to buy the panels. However, owning a solar system can be more cost-saving over the long term. The average solar payback period, the time it takes to recoup your initial investment costs, is six to 10 years if you buy a solar system.
Federal and state incentive programs can help you lower the cost of solar by providing you tax credits, rebates and other cost-saving measures.
The table below shows a couple of solar incentives available to West Virginia residents.
|Net metering||West Virginia's net metering policy allows solar owners to send excess generation back to the grid and get credits on their electricity bills. Net metering customers receive credits at a full retail value of electricity rates.|
|Solar rights laws||West Virginia's solar rights laws allow you to install solar panels on your property free from bans by homeowners' associations. Homeowners' associations can still restrict the size and placement of solar arrays.|
|Federal tax credit||The most significant incentive available for West Virginians interested in solar power is the federal residential clean energy credit, which was expanded and extended under the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act. You can claim 30% of the cost of a solar system from your federal income tax. The clean energy credit is valid through 2032. It drops to 26% in 2033 and 22% in 2034 and ends in 2035.|
The Solar Energy Industries Association (PDF) counts 20 solar companies in West Virginia, including eight installers. Here are five solar companies worth considering, based on our research and our rankings of the top national solar companies.
This Pennsylvania-based company also serves West Virginia. As a full-service solar installer, Elysium Solar Energy provides solar panels and batteries for residential and commercial clients. Elysium Solar offers a 25-year product and quality of work warranty.
Mountain View Solar installs solar panels and battery solutions for residential, commercial and nonprofit customers in West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania. Mountain View Solar installs panels from SMA, Silfab and and inverters from SolarEdge Technologies. The company helps customers find solar financing if they can't afford to pay cash. Unlike most competitors offering longer warranties, Mountain View Solar provides only a one-year quality of work warranty. However, its customers get a 25-year performance warranty for solar panels and a 12-year warranty for inverters. The company doesn't offer solar leases or power purchase agreements.
Based in West Virginia, Solar Holler provides solar panels, batteries and energy monitoring services for residential and commercial customers. Solar Holler provides its clients with a 25-year product warranty, 10-year quality of work warranty and a five-year roof penetration warranty. The company offers low-interest financing at no upfront cost for customers who can't afford to buy a solar system with cash. As of this writing, Solar Holler doesn't provide solar leases or power purchase agreements.
SunPower installs solar panels through a network of SunPower-certified installers. SunPower was named our top choice for national solar companies due to its highest efficiency ratings of nearly 22.8%, strong batteries and workmanship warranties. SunPower boasts some of the best warranties with a 25-year guarantee for product, performance and quality of work. If you can't afford to pay for solar with cash, the company offers solar financing, leases and power purchase agreements.
Covering eight states, including West Virginia, Ohio-based YellowLite provides solar installation, repair, maintenance, repairs and energy monitoring services. While YellowLite offers a 10-year quality of work warranty, it doesn't specify product and performance warranties on its solar systems and components.
Solar is an appealing alternative to fluctuating utility rates, but it might not be for everyone. Here are some factors to consider before you invest in solar panels.
Roof: Your roof's pitch can affect the total cost of solar. The US Department of Energy estimates that an angle between 15 and 40 degrees is ideal for solar panel efficiency. When shopping around for solar providers, make sure to choose an experienced installer to help you determine if your roof is suitable for panels.
Money vs. time: It's essential to determine how long you'll be in your home before committing to solar, whether it's a loan, power purchase agreement or lease. The typical payback period for solar is between six to nine years, and leases and power purchase agreements often have even longer terms. If you're not in the house long enough to see the financial benefits, investing in solar may not make sense if you plan to move after a couple of years.
Insurance: Many insurance companies cover solar systems. Confirm coverage with your insurance agent and remember to include your system in your homeowner's insurance policy after you install solar panels.
Renting or owning your home: Installing solar panels on your rooftop is difficult if you rent your home because you need permission from your landlord. It may not make sense to buy or finance solar panels on a rented property if you have to move in a few years. The best way for renters to go solar is to join a community solar program, if West Virginia's state legislators pass a law currently under consideration that would allow it.
A solar system can reduce, or even eliminate, your electric bill and protect you from rising utility rates. The federal tax credit can significantly lower the high upfront cost of installing solar panels. In addition, West Virginia's net metering policy reduces energy costs by giving credit on your electric bill when you send excess generation back to the grid.
No, in most cases. The majority of solar systems are tied to the power grid, allowing homeowners to use energy from the grid in the evenings or when it's cloudy. Grid-tied solar panels will automatically stop generating energy when the power goes out to allow utility workers to operate without electricity from solar panels harming them. However, some companies offer inverters with backup batteries that operate independently from the grid during an outage and continue supplying electricity from your solar system.
Most solar systems don't have standalone batteries. But energy storage systems are increasingly attractive to solar owners wanting to use them during a blackout or peak demand hours, when electricity on the grid is more expensive. Some utilities in West Virginia, like Dominion Energy, offer time-of-use energy rates, which are based on the time of day when you use electricity. A battery stores any surplus solar generation from your panels during the day. The speed at which a battery will charge will depend on the amount of excess energy generated.