Guide to Going Solar with Xcel Energy in Colorado
February 8, 2024
Colorado solar energy adoption has surged in recent years, with an impressive 82% growth since 2018. Denver, in particular, has experienced the most significant increase, with the city projected to almost double its production of solar energy by 2025.1 Bolstered by nearly 300 days of sun yearly and generous incentives from electricity companies like Xcel Energy, the state is poised for a renewable revolution.
Xcel Energy, the largest electric utility provider in Colorado, has been actively promoting solar energy through various incentives like their SolarRewards and Renewable Battery Connect programs.
In addition, for those who don’t have the space, Xcel’s SolarRewards Community, the nation’s largest community solar program, allows customers to subscribe to a nearby third-party community solar garden.
For those who are looking for an immediate return on their investment, Xcel Energy hosts a program for net metering in Colorado, allowing customers to get a credit back on their bill for excess energy returned to the grid. Xcel Energy is often an attractive choice for this last option alone, as not all electrical companies offer this solar incentive.
Let’s shine a light on Colorado’s solar incentives through Xcel Energy!
How Does Net Metering Work in Colorado?
While the principle of net metering largely stays the same, the intricacies of the rate you get paid may vary between states and different energy companies. Net meter programs, in general, operate like an electricity bank. When your solar panels generate more power than you use, the excess energy is fed back into the grid.
In Colorado, a universal net metering policy is applicable to all electricity providers serving fewer than 5,000 customers, excluding municipal utilities. All residential solar systems with a capacity of up to 10 kW are eligible for net metering. This program facilitates the transfer of surplus energy generated by your solar panels back to the power grid in return for credits on your utility bill. Importantly, in Colorado, these credits are equivalent to the retail cost of electricity, whereas, in some states, the rate is less than retail.
The state does not have a cap on excess energy credited, but the system’s total output must not be greater than 120% of the energy the customer uses. For most homeowners, this means that their solar panel systems are Tier 1 and generate 10 kilowatts (kW) or less.2
Xcel’s New Solar Rebates
Xcel Energy has two solar rebates that help reduce the overall solar installation costs – one of the main challenges for homeowners to make the leap to energy independence.
Xcel Energy SolarRewards
The Xcel Energy SolarRewards Program3 is the company’s bespoke net meter offering. To apply, a solar owner must install a system that generates up to 120 percent of their average annual power load. This makes them eligible for incentives between $0.005 and $0.0375 per kWh (depending on the size of the system) for a 20-year timespan in exchange for energy credits produced by their system.
Income Qualified / Disproportionally Impacted Community (IQ/DIC) Solar Incentive
Additionally, Xcel Energy customers who power their homes with on-site solar energy can receive money back if their solar system generates more electricity than they use and if their home is located in the Income Qualified / Disproportionately Impacted Community (IQ/DIC), which is shown in the cross-hatched area on the Xcel Energy EnviroScreen map4.
The IQ/DIC incentive to the customer is $1 per watt of installed solar, up to $7,000 (for 7 kilowatts kW)! The homeowners themselves do not have to be income-qualified.5
Xcel Energy Renewable Battery Connect Program
The Xcel Energy Renewable Battery Connect program allows eligible customers to participate in demand response events using their solar batteries. What does this mean?
Demand response events are a part of Xcel Energy’s energy management strategy that encourages consumers to reduce their electricity use during peak demand times or in response to price signals. These events typically occur when there is a high demand for electricity, often due to extreme weather conditions, and the grid’s capacity is strained.
Automatic Battery Discharge
During demand response events, Xcel Energy will automatically discharge customers’ batteries to help reduce strain on the grid. In return for participating in the program, the average customer will receive a $500 per kW incentive (up to 50% of the equipment cost) – which, in the case of something like the Tesla Powerwall battery, could result in $3,500 in savings!
Income Qualified Savings
Income-qualified customers can also receive up to $800 per kW of storage capacity (up to 75% of the equipment cost), which for a Tesla Powerwall could equal $5,600 in savings. Beyond this, all participants receive a $100 annual participation incentive! 6
How to Benefit From Solar Panels if You Have Xcel Energy
Before installing solar panels, consult with your local installer about incentive programs and rebates, and be sure that your system will meet requirements to ensure maximum savings!
To join Xcel Energy’s SolarRewards program, check their website for current eligibility requirements. The general steps are as follows:
- Sign up as an Xcel Energy customer: You must be an Xcel Energy residential or business electricity customer.
- Choose an installer and ideal PV system: You’ll want to work with an experienced, licensed solar installer who will help you design the perfect fit based on location, design, and scale.
- Submit an Interconnection Application: In most cases, the developer or installer will submit an application on your behalf and manage the details of your project directly with Xcel Energy, or you can manage the process on your own.
- Install your solar PV system: Xcel Energy highly recommends that construction of your system SHOULD NOT commence until your application receives full approval from the Xcel Energy engineering team and all final agreements are fully signed.
Choosing a Solar Panel Installer in Colorado
Solar panels have the potential to take you 25 years into the future, accompanied by years of savings. Find a knowledgeable, transparent solar installer who will walk you through the process and ensure your system meets the requirements to get you the best return on your investment.
Freedom Solar Power stands behind our quality craftsmanship. We offer a 25 year product, power, and workmanship warranty so that you can continue to enjoy an uninterrupted supply of electricity during unplanned outages and power bill savings for years to come!