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Q: Dear Wiz:   

I want to build a new home with photovoltaic tiles on the roof to generate electricity. Can you provide information on how to connect to the grid, net metering and any financing options for solar tiles?

A: soalr roofing Dear Reader:

To connect to the grid, you will need to receive permits from the Power Review Board . The connection hardware and installation instructions should be included with your system. Contact Tim Trexel, Power Review Board, P.O. Box 94713, Lincoln, NE 68509, phone 402-471-2301. Nebraska utilities are not required to offer net metering. You will need to contact your local electric utility to find out what the utility will pay for electricity you generate and send to the grid. This amount may be the same as the utilities cost for generation, which is less than what net metering would provide.

Your utility also needs to know you are generating electricity for safety reasons. If they need to work on the power lines — thatís the grid — in your area, they may need to disconnect your system to prevent shock to the workers maintaining those lines.

An option you might want to consider is a battery backup system to go with your photovoltaic system. The battery backup system will allow you to store the energy you generate during those times when you are not using it. Addition of the battery backup system will make your system work in a similar manner as net metering. Instead of the utility subtracting the energy you generate from the amount you use — thatís net metering — the battery backup system will allow you to use a much greater amount of the energy you generate yourself, avoiding the use of energy from the utility in the first place.

There are two sources of financing that may help you finance the photovoltaic roof tiles:

  • The first comes in the form of tax credits, which will allow you 30 percent of your installed cost, up to a maximum of $2000 (see IRS Form 5695 for specific instructions on amounts you can claim).
  • The second is a renewable energy grant from the United States Department of Agricultureís Rural Development. There may also be some funds available from USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service as well. Contact information is as follows:
The Energy Wiz!
The Energy Wiz!

USDA Rural Development Contacts:
Beatrice-Jan Knobel 402-223-3125
Columbus-Dan Laska 402-564-0506
Ainsworth-Mary Gambill 402-387-2242
Scottsbluff-Tim Brooks 308-632-2195
North Platte-Beth Fries 308-534-2360
Kearney-Karissa Hagedorn 308-237-3118

USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service Contact:
Kenneth E. Noonan 402-437-4106

Sincerely,
The Energy Wiz

Editor's Note:
The staff at the Energy Office respond to many inquiries on a variety of topics from Nebraskans. From time to time, the Quarterly will share some questions — and the answers — with readers.
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