Below you’ll find the top solar companies in West Virginia as ranked by us and reviewed by verified solar customers. To learn more about what goes into our “Best Rank” score for each company, visit our How We Rank page. For our full West Virginia Solar Overview, keep reading:
As one of the nation’s leading coal producers, West Virginia’s dearth of solar incentives and solar-friendly policies should come as little surprise. That said, the Mountain State does provide interested homeowners with some tools to help alleviate the cost of going solar, however small.
Read on to learn more about the ins and outs of going solar in West Virginia.
Here's an at-a-glance description of the current benefits and drawbacks of switching to solar in West Virginia:
Solar costs in West Virginia can be calculated in two different ways: one way is examining the dollars-and-cents cost of a physical solar system. In West Virginia, an average 5 kilowatt solar PV system costs about $20,000, slightly higher than most states, but on pace with several other southern states. If a system is purchased or financed through a loan, that figure will be reduced by 30 percent through the federal tax credit.
The other way to calculate the cost of solar in West Virginia is through levelized cost, which divides the total upfront costs by the lifetime energy output. For traditional electricity, the levelized cost equates to roughly 21 cents per kWh, and 5 cents per kWh for solar energy.
Considering these two figures in tandem indicates that while solar power in West Virginia can represent a major out-of-pocket expense, the long-term costs over 25 years are less than a third of what they would pay to the utility company.
Only two financing options are available in West Virginia: direct purchase and solar loan. Both options allow homeowners to qualify for the federal solar tax credit, but each carries its own distinct advantages and disadvantages. For example, while cash purchase yields the highest return on investment, it also requires the most money upfront; meanwhile, a solar loan requires no money upfront, but will also yield relatively low returns.
As mentioned above, a 5 kW solar panel system in West Virginia costs approximately $20,000 — or somewhere closer to $14,000 after the federal tax credit has been applied. Because utility prices in the state are so low (about 11 cents per kWh compared to the national average of 13 cents), annual savings will take a long time, upwards of 17 years, to offset those costs.
Fortunately, once the system is paid off, homeowners will have another seven to eight years for the system to turn a profit, which accrues to a little more than $10,000 after 25 years of operation. Home value will meanwhile, increase by about $12,000 in that same time.
The other path to solar panel financing is through a third-party loan or home-equity line of credit (HELOC). Borrowers will need at least $20,000 in financing to fund their 5 kW system, but the great news is that they won’t need to pay any money down to qualify. Combining this with the federal tax credit puts customers ahead by more than $5,000 after the first year.
Unfortunately, savings will diminish each year as loan payments remain more expensive than utility payments, and savings will disappear altogether after only the first five years of operation. By year 15, the final year of the loan, customers will be paying more than $10,000 net in loan payments.
Once the loan is paid off, savings will resume. Over the next ten years, customers will have saved a little less than $5,000.
West Virginia has practically no solar incentives to entice customers to make the switch to clean, renewable energy: no rebates from the power companies or tax credits from the state; no tax exempt status for solar energy systems, or solar programs for low-income communities or individuals.
The state’s solar policies aren’t much better; however, two policies regarding solar panel use are in place:
West Virginia requires all utility providers to provide net metering to solar customers. Net metering is a policy that credits solar users for the surplus electricity their systems produce and contribute to the utility grid. Unused credits (usually disbursed monthly) can be rolled over indefinitely, with no fear of surrendering them back to the utility.
Interconnection rules refer to the standards set by either the state or the utility provider for solar panel systems prior to connecting to the grid. All solar energy systems up to 2 megawatts in West Virginia qualify for interconnection, and residential systems under 25 kW qualify for a reduced application fee and are not required to install a costly external disconnect switch.
Because coal is so prominent in the state, West Virginia has invested relatively little in solar power, amounting to about $33 million total (about a tenth of the amount of leading states). Only about 10 MW of solar power have been installed in the state; but of that 10, more than 75 percent can be attributed to residential solar installation projects. More than 350 installations operate in the state, sending power to almost 1,000 West Virginia homes. The state hosts 18 solar companies employing nearly 350 people.
Interested in a solar quote? Check out the top-ranked solar companies in West Virginia and read reviews from verified solar customers.