As you explore the installation of rooftop solar panels or another form of distributed generation, you’ll want to examine whether a system makes sense for you. One good resource for more information is the U.S. Department of Energy’s website, which provides information on rooftop solar, small wind electric systems and hydropower systems.
If you’ve selected your renewable energy system and are ready to interconnect it with Alliant Energy’s system, please select your state to find out more information.
Thinking about rooftop solar? Here are some things to consider.
Is rooftop solar right for me?
- How much is your electric bill?
- Do you own your home and have a shade-free roof?
Home-based solar panels are more likely to have satisfying payback periods if your electric bills are high and you have a roof configuration that can take maximum advantage of the sun. If rooftop solar is not right for you, we offer a voluntary program for customers who want to purchase additional green power; no special equipment is needed.
First things first—reduce your energy use.
By investing in energy efficiency upgrades, you can reduce the overall amount of energy you use. This will also reduce the size and cost of the solar system you need to install. We offer free energy assessments to help you identify and prioritize opportunities to save energy in your home, apartment or business.
If you are ready for solar, we recommend that you install a system that offsets a portion of your average monthly usage. The payback calculations on larger systems that generate more than what you use in a month, are speculative.
Saving money—what’s the bottom line?
Use the resources below to learn more about the assumptions that go into calculating payback periods. While you can choose the number and location of panels on your home and manage system maintenance, other variables are harder to predict, such as the actual production of energy by season, weather conditions, future changes to electricity prices or insurance rates, tax implications, future lifestyle and advances in technological uses of energy.
Contact us to better understand your current electric rate and what bill savings you might expect if you install a solar PV system. Alliant Energy customers can call the Renewable Energy Hotline at 1-800-972-5325, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Solar leases—what do I need to know?
The solar leasing model is a new financial model that is unlike leasing a home or car. It’s important to understand the details because when you lease a solar system, you get to use the system, but it may not be clear who will own it. Since the system is being attached to property that you own – your home – it’s a good idea to know who is ultimately going to own your system, especially since the lease duration is usually 20 years.
When leasing a rooftop solar system, incentives like tax credits and depreciation commonly go to the system owner, not the homeowner. As a homeowner, find out if you may have a lien placed on our property if the system is leased. That could complicate things if you decide to sell your property. Find out what will happen to the system at the end of our lease—will you buy it, have it removed, or extend the lease? What are the costs in each scenario?
Going solar—is that the same as “off the grid”?
Most rooftop solar systems continue to use the local electric system. Generally, solar systems do not produce all the energy a home needs on cloudy days or at night. An average home will need a reliable energy supply for the majority of its electric needs. You’ll also need to be connected to the grid to be compensated for putting any extra power you may generate, back on to the electric system. Extra power is usually produced during early afternoon hours.
The roof—is it ready for solar?
Know the condition of your roof before you commit to installing solar panels. Find out how many years are left on your existing roof before it needs to be replaced. Learn who is responsible for the cost of taking down and reinstalling solar panels if your roof needs to be repaired. In addition, it is common practice to assess the structural integrity of your roof for its ability to support the additional weight of the solar panel installation.
Solar installation and maintenance—what should I ask the installer?
- Ask how long your warranty lasts and who is responsible for maintenance.
- Ask if the installer assumes liability if your roof is damaged during installation.
- Find out if your leasing company is different from the installer. Leases are for 20-year terms and businesses can change in that time.
- Ask what happens if the installer were no longer in business in the future.
- Check that your solar system will meet your Homeowners Association guidelines and be sure to obtain a local building permit for the construction.
Selling a home—what do I need to know?
How likely are you to sell your home in the next 20 years? If you own your solar system, it may be considered an asset that will raise the value of your home. If the system is leased, the debt may count as a liability. Depending on your lease agreement, before you sell your home, you may have different options, such as paying off the remainder of the lease, leaving the system behind for the buyer to qualify for and assume, or paying someone to move the system with you.
Get advice—who should I talk to?
A solar system is a significant investment. Here are additional questions to ask professionals in other fields.
- Ask your tax professional which incentives you qualify for, if you must report any proceeds from selling excess power as income, and if a leased system will raise your property taxes.
- Ask your insurance agent if your homeowner’s insurance premium will go up and if your policy covers damage related to rooftop solar installation.
- Ask your real estate professional if a rooftop system will increase your home’s value or impact your ability to sell your home.
- Ask your local fire department if a system would impact how they would respond to a fire at your home.