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NV Energy seeing influx of residents install solar panels | News

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NV Energy seeing influx of residents install solar panels
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LAS VEGAS -- Experts say more Nevadans are adopting the use of solar power into their lifestyles to save both money and the environment.

According to NV Energy, in August of last year, the utility company said it received about 900 applications for the Solar-Generations rebate program, which offsets solar panel installation costs. Through March of 2015, NV Energy said that number has jumped to 1,100.

However, for a lot of customers, getting the solar panels isn't just about going green. Residents say they're trying to make a big investment now so that it can be a safety net in case they can't save down the road.

Ralph Preta, for instance, says he knows that being retired is synonymous with living on a budget. However, he admits to splurging once in a while.

His biggest splurge this year: the solar panels he had installed onto the roof of his Henderson home.

"It doesn't take a lot to say yes to this. If you do the math it's fantastic," Preta said.

Preta said since he had the panels installed his power bill has gone from around $2,000 a year to about $300. Preta said he saved $6,000 in installation fees with a federal tax credit.

He says he's also saving every month with net metering. With net metering, Preta gets a credit from NV Energy for unused power.

"In fact my friends tease me by saying, 'let's go to Ralphs house, we don't have to pay for air conditioning,'" Preta said.

In 2013 lawmakers capped net metering at 3 percent for users. Solar industry leaders argued to boost it to 10 percent so that more people can take advantage of the program.

Currently, the fear of losing credit is driving customers away and towards companies like Robco Electric.

"We have installed more in the last four months than we have in eight years," said Bruce Rogol, manager at Robco Electric.

Rogol said he understands why consumers want to make the investment now. He says they want to keep bills affordable in case power prices jump dramatically in the future.

Rogol said he too has solar panels on his own home, and he only pays about 15 bucks a month.

NV Energy says it's offering rebates to offset installation costs for the solar panels, but the incentive program won't last. The utility company said it's offering it until the money runs out.

Currently, NV Energy said its receiving up to 1,000 applications a month for the solar panel rebate.

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