The sun shines bright on the Centennial State! With over 300 sunny days per year, Colorado has tremendous solar potential and was one of the first states in the U.S. to have a Renewable Energy Standard. As an alternative energy leader, Colorado is an ideal place to go solar for your home or business. And harnessing the power of the sun is the first step to a future of clean, sustainable energy, as well as drastically reduced electricity bills
The cost of going solar for your home or business will depend on the size of your system, your electricity costs, and the net metering policies in your area. But the good news is that solar power is more affordable than you think — and there are plenty of Colorado solar incentives and rebates to help make it easier than ever to install. Keep reading to discover the many solar programs available at the federal, state, and local levels for your Colorado home or business.
FEDERAL, STATE, AND LOCAL INCENTIVES
A big part of Colorado’s solar success is thanks to its Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard, the first program in the nation that requires electricity providers to obtain a minimum of 30 percent of their power from renewable energy sources. As a result of this sustainable focus, there are plenty of Colorado solar panel incentives for solar owners throughout the Centennial State.
Although there is not a state-sponsored Colorado solar tax credit, these rebates and solar programs are available through your electric utility or your city or county, as you’ll see listed below. Coloradans are also entitled to a property tax exemption for solar power, which makes investing in sustainable energy even more affordable (see this website for detailed information). Plus, utility companies in Colorado are required to offer net metering, which pays solar owners for the excess energy they contribute to the power grid. These utilities have an application process for each project, which your solar installer will manage for you.
NET METERING PROGRAMS
In 2004, Colorado voters passed the nation’s first renewable energy standard by public ballot, and the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has adopted standards for net metering and interconnection with the grid for the past 15 years. Today, Coloradans can “sell” their unused energy back to the grid in exchange for credits on their next utility billing cycle. The excess energy simply rolls over to the next month’s electric bill. And if the net production of energy remains above consumption for a calendar year, then the utility provider must reimburse solar owners who don’t choose to roll it over.
COLORADO SOLAR POWER INCENTIVES
Colorado solar rebates and incentives, as well as policies for the utility companies and cooperatives below, are subject to change at any time. We strive to update this page regularly with the latest information but recommend that you contact your utility directly to confirm their current program.
Black Hills, serving the Pueblo area, has a goal of 51% renewable energy by 2024, including 28% solar (up from 1% solar in 2019) and is expanding its community solar garden program. The utility offers behind-the-meter residential and commercial rooftop and ground-mount solar. It also offers customers the opportunity to apply for its highly competitive performance-based incentive (PBI) program. The PBI is a credit on every kWh of solar generation, regardless of annual true-up on net metering, valued at $0.03 per kWh for 10 years on tier 1 systems (<30 kW) in 2021. Residential applications are accepted quarterly; commercial applications once per year.
City of Aspen Residential and Commercial Energy-Efficient Rebate
The City of Aspen’s electric system is 100 percent renewable (46 percent hydroelectric, 53 percent wind power, 1 percent landfill gas). They offer a residential rebate of 50 percent of the total solar installation cost and up to $300 for energy-saving projects. Commercial solar owners are eligible for a rebate of 25 percent of the cost of the project, and up to $2,500 for energy-saving measures.
Colorado Springs Utilities Renewable Energy Rebate Program
Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) Owners of residential and commercial solar panel systems are eligible for a rebate of $0.20 per watt, which is confirmed to continue through 2021. Up to 40 percent of the total cost of the installation may be covered by rebates and tax credits.
New in 2021, systems up to 15 kW DC are eligible for the net metering program, which previously had a limit of 10 kW.
In 2020 CSU announced a three-year project to roll out smart meters across their entire service territory. The utility’s sustainable energy plan calls for an 80% carbon emissions reduction and retiring all coal-fired generation by 2030 and achieving 90% renewable energy by 2050—including through expansion of distributed solar PV and battery energy storage.
Elevations Energy Loans
This program offers low-interest loans on solar panel systems installed in Boulder County, or in the city or county of Denver.
Fort Collins Utilities has a reputation for progressive innovation, from the FortZED project, a zero-energy district powered by distributed solar PV and battery energy storage, default time-of-day electricity pricing for all of its residential customers, with different on- and off-peak hours and pricing for summer vs. non-summer seasons.
Residential and commercial customers with on-site solar PV systems can participate in the FCU ‘parallel generation’ option, which credits solar at a $/kWh time-of-day rate. FCU also offers residential customers a solar rebate (up to a max of $1,500 per system) above and beyond any federal and state incentives. Also in 2020, FCU is running a residential battery storage pilot program (also with an incentive up to $1,500 per battery system) to enable homeowners to store surplus solar generation and optimize against the time-of-day pricing. The Tesla Powerwall is one of three batteries pre-approved for participation in this program.
This program offers Colorado solar panel incentives to its members who install solar panel systems (in addition to hydro, biomass, geothermal, or wind energy). The rebate is $750 per kW for the first 6 kW of a system, $500 per kW for the next 6 kW, and $200 per kW for the next 13 kW of a system.
Intermountain Rural Electric Association
Intermountain Rural Electric Association (IREA) is a rural electric cooperative serving areas around Denver. IREA offers net metering to residential customers who solar power systems that are no more than 10 kilowatts (AC) and produce up to 120% of the customer’s 12-month usage. A customer with a system exceeding 10 kilowatts may still receive a monthly credit for excess energy at our avoided cost rate. IREA is supportive of solar power and had almost 3,000 customers with rooftop solar systems at the end of 2019, accounting for more than 17 megawatts of power.
Homeowners and business owners who install a solar panel system (or wind or hydroelectric technology) are eligible for a rebate. Solar panel systems 10kW or smaller can receive a one-time upfront payment of $16 per kW. For systems greater than 10kW, the rebate is valued at $1 per MWh and paid every six months.
Longmont Power & Communications (LPC) likewise offers a straightforward residential net metering program but not a solar rebate.
Loveland Water and Power (LWP) offers a rooftop solar self-generation program for customers but does not provide a solar rebate.
MPEI members are eligible for renewable energy rebates for their home or business solar installations. The residential maximum rebate is $1,000, and the commercial maximum rebate is $8,000.
Mountain View Electric cooperative serves portions of 8 counties east of Colorado Springs. MVEA offers net metering for residential systems up to 10 kilowatts (kW) and commercial systems up to 25 kW. The coop also offers a number of rebates related to energy efficiency and electric vehicle charging.
This cooperative serves northern Colorado, primarily in the less densely populated areas around Fort Collins, Greeley, Loveland, and Longmont. PVREA offers members the option to buy or lease panels for their homes (called “private solar”) as well as a community solar option. The coop offers net metering but no solar rebate.
San Isabel Electric is a rural cooperative serving southern Colorado. SIEA offers solar net metering as well as free energy efficiency assessments, electric vehicle rebates of $500 per qualified EV purchase, and additional rebates for charging equipment installation.
Both home and business owners may be eligible for rebates for installing solar panels. Rebates for residential systems are $0.25 per watt up to 3kW or $750. Rebates for commercial installations are $0.25 per watt up to 10kW or $2,500.
United Power is a cooperative in areas surrounding Denver. They offer energy efficiency rebates.
Solar owners who install solar panel systems up to 120 percent of their average annual power load may be 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.
* Tax credits subject to change. Consult your tax advisor regarding the solar tax credit and how it applies to your specific circumstances. Please visit the dsireusa.org website for detailed solar policy information. We do not provide legal or tax advice.
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