Renewables are the largest source of electricity in Kansas, but that’s wind power, not the sun.
You can change it, at least for your own home. But installing solar panels may not be a breeze, depending on where you live in the Sunflower State.
If you’re in an area served by a major utility, you’re probably able to easily connect a solar system to the grid. According to Dorothy Barnett, executive director of the Climate + Energy Project, a Kansas clean energy advocacy group, it can be even more difficult if you’re served by a municipal power company or a rural electric cooperative. Those utilities are not covered by the state’s net metering law, which sets standards for how power companies connect small solar systems to the grid.
“If you live in a more rural part of the state, it’s likely that you won’t be able to net meter a system right now,” Barnett told CNET. “Or if you are allowed to net meter the system, you may be charged an additional grid access fee or a ridiculously high application fee to apply for interconnection.”
Kansas also lacks state-level incentives for residential solar systems, but there are plenty of reasons to consider solar panels for your home. This includes a major federal tax credit. Here’s what you need to know if you’re thinking about going solar in Kansas.
Kansas solar panel cost
Solar panels have become significantly less expensive in recent years. By 2020, solar panel installation costs per watt were slightly more than a third of what they were a decade earlier, according to research from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
Although the panels themselves have fallen in price the most in recent years, the total cost of a solar installation will depend on much more. Your system will also need an inverter and other equipment, and you may need a new electrical box or add a battery. And then there’s the cost of labor — installers and electricians — and permits.
Here’s a look at the typical cost of solar installations nationwide, with data from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory:
Solar panel costs nationwide
|System Size (kW)||Price per watt||Installed cost|
How to pay for solar panels in Kansas
As with any major purchase, you need to think about where the money for the panels will come from. Despite the federal tax credit, you’ll have to cover most of the cost of installation. And the tax credit money won’t be yours until you file your taxes for the year the panels are installed.
Here are some ways to pay for solar panels:
Cash: It’s a simple method, but it only works if you have thousands of dollars sitting in your bank account. If you don’t have that, but you want solar panels in the future, consider saving money in a high-yield savings account. Interest rates are high right now, and this can help you save faster.
Solar Loans: Your solar installer may have a relationship with a bank or other financial institution to offer loans designed for solar panels. This can be a great deal, but you’ll want to get multiple offers to make sure the rates and terms are the best.
Home Equity: You don’t have to use a loan from your solar company. Financial institutions offer Home equity loan and lines of credit (or HELOCs) that are typically used for home improvement projects. These loans can be used for basically any purpose, and they may be perfect for your solar project. Shop around and make sure you’re getting the best deal.
Personal Loan: You can also borrow money through one Personal loans. The main difference between a personal loan and a home equity loan is that a personal loan is usually unsecured. This means your home is not at risk. The downside is that they have shorter terms and higher interest rates than home equity products.
Kansas solar panel incentives and rebates
The biggest opportunity for Kansans to get help with solar panels is a federal program, the Residential Clean Energy Credit, which provides a tax credit of up to 30% of the cost of a solar system. The credit, which was recently extended and expanded in the Inflation Reduction Act passed in 2022, has no limit on how much you can claim. One potential hitch: You’ll have to wait until later File your taxes To get money next year.
Here’s a look at the incentives available to you:
Kansas Solar Incentive
Residential Clean Energy Credit
This federal tax credit covers up to 30% of the cost of your solar installation. The exact amount it covers depends on how much you pay in federal taxes that year.
Rural Energy for America program
This U.S. Department of Agriculture program provides guaranteed loans and grants to farmers and rural businesses interested in solar or other energy efficiency projects.
Property tax exemption
Kansas law provides a 10-year property tax exemption for property used to generate renewable energy.
Kansas solar panel companies
There are 19 installers and developers in the Sunflower State, according to figures from the Solar Energy Industry Association. How do you decide between them? The best way is to get bids from several companies and see which one offers the best price and service.
Keep an eye out for potentially misleading ads and scams. Barnett said some Kansas companies have said they are connected with state utilities, but none of the utilities have prioritized contractors. “That’s a red flag,” she said. She recommends buyers work with local Kansas companies and get at least two bids.
Here are some companies to consider based on our research and CNET’s list of the top solar companies nationwide:
Lawrence-based Cromwell Solar was founded in 1982 and employs only its own installers and master or journeyman electricians. The company installs solar energy on residential and commercial properties as well as farms. It also offers generator and battery backup systems, which you can get even if you don’t get a solar system.
Better energy solutions
Also based in Lawrence, Good Energy Solutions installs SunPower panels, known for their efficiency and strong warranty. The company, which has been around since 2007, also operates in Missouri. Good Energy Solutions says it does not use any subcontractors and that it also provides repair and maintenance of solar systems.
King Solar is based in Haven, outside of Wichita. It serves the southern and central parts of the state. The company receives favorable online reviews from customers, many of whom praise the customer service.
SunPower Solar offers the most efficient solar panels available on the market. This means you will be able to convert more solar energy into savings on your power bills. The company also has strong warranties on its equipment, with panels guaranteed to produce 92% or more of their original capacity after 25 years.
Installation factors to keep in mind
Solar panels can put a big dent in your power bill and help you make the difference in moving away from fossil fuels, but they’re not right for everyone. Going solar when it doesn’t make sense can turn that promise into a nightmare. Here are a few things to consider before taking the plunge.
- Location, location, location: If you live in a wide open area where your home gets sun all day, solar panels can be great. If your roof is surrounded by large trees, the panels may not get enough light to be worth it. Also consider the angle of your home – panels in the US perform best on south-facing slopes.
- Your roof: Solar panels are a long-term commitment for your roof. Make sure it’s ready for it. If you are replacing your teeth in the next few years, or if you have damage that needs to be repaired quickly, installing solar panels may take priority.
- HOA and Neighborhood Rules: Check with your homeowner’s association and local government to see if there are any requirements you must meet before you install the panels.
- Insurance Coverage: Your homeowner’s insurance will cover solar panels, but you should call ahead of time to check and make sure.
- If you rent: You can’t install solar panels on your home if you don’t own one. There are other options, including community solar, in which you pay for panels on a separate site and receive a share of the energy the facility produces. Community solar “hasn’t taken off yet” in Kansas because of regulations, Barnett said, but there are some options.
Should you pay extra on your utility bill if you have solar panels?
The Kansas Supreme Court in 2020 struck down a utility company’s surcharge on customers who generate their own energy. The court held that the practice was price discrimination, and that utilities could not charge their energy producers more than other customers.
Does Kansas have net metering?
It depends on your utility. The state’s net metering law requires the two largest investor-owned utilities — Evergy and Empire District — to offer net metering until the net metering systems equal 1% of their peak demand. Electric cooperatives and municipal electricity providers are not required to offer net metering, although many do.