If you’re looking to go solar in Colorado, there are many great, natural reasons you’ll get a Rocky Mountain high in Colorado.
Utility rebates have come down recently in Colorado due to overwhelming solar demand, but that same demand factor has also increased competition among installers.
In fact, if you’re looking for solar power installers in Boulder, Denver, Golden, Evergreen Lakewood, Littleton, or one of the cities served by the Xcel Energy utility, you’re probably in the best solar market in the entire United States as of this writing. Why? Because Colorado actually cares about the environment.
In 2004, Colorado clean energy advocates were the first in the country to ask voters to pass a ballot initiative creating a state-wide Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS). Recent Amendments now require Xcel Energy and the State’s other investor owned utilities to get at least 4% of their renewable energy mix from solar. Not only that, at least 2% of that power has to come from Xcel customers, not a huge solar farm somewhere far, far away, like, you know, Nevada.
More Colorado Solar Rebate info.
There are other great reasons for going solar in Colorado too. Let’s count the ways:
Net metering is where the utility “stores” any extra solar power your panels produce during the day. Then at night or on cloudy days, they credit that power back to you.
Colorado is also one of the few States that requires utilities to pay you for the net excess solar power that your panels produce over the course of a year. That means if you reduce your electric usage during the year and have solar, the utility has to cut you a check at the end of the year for any extra solar juice you’ve contributed to the grid. You also have the option to roll that extra credit to your subsequent bills.
PACE Financing for Solar
So you want to go solar but don’t want to get a second mortgage to finance it? Well, Colorado has already implemented municipal financing, otherwise known as Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing. This is where your upfront solar cost is paid for with a special property tax assessment. You slowly pay off the tax assessment over 20 years. If you move in 5 years, not a problem. The payments (and solar savings) get transferred to the new owner. It’s a huge win-win program. Unfortunately, these programs are sold out quickly, but check with a local installer if it’s available in your area.
Residential Solar Incentives
Your solar rebate in Colorado is going to vary by your utility, but if it’s a big one like Xcel, you’ll now receive $2/watt. We’ll give an example below of what that means for your actual cost.
In addition to the rebate, utilities must also pay you an upfront payment for your Solar Renewable Energy Credits (S-RECs or RECs or “Green Tags.”). The definition of a REC will confuse you, so don’t bother clicking that link. Now you’re going to do it. You’ve been warned. Anyway, just know that the utility is going to pay you extra cash for your solar energy potential. As of this writing, it’s an extra .85/watt. So, bottom line, your total upfront solar rebate is really $2.85/watt. It could get lower, so the sooner you lock in, the better.
Now. Let’s do an average 5kW (5000 watt) cost example, shall we? Cool:
Cost Example of a 5kW Solar Power Installed in Boulder/Denver, Colorado area.
In this cost example, we’re talking about a 5kW (5000 watt DC) system. That size takes care of 77% of a home’s electricity needs if you have an average $100/month electric bill ($1200/year total). As of this writing, you’re going to pay around $6.25/watt installed cost in Colorado. Could be even less. What does that mean for this example?
Cost Before Incentives: $31,250 ($6.25/watt x 5000 watts) (Don’t panic!)
State Rebate (including REC value): subtract $14,250 ($2.85/watt x 5000)
30% Federal tax credit: subtract $5100 (calculated after State rebate)
Payback: Roughly 12 years, depending on how fast utility rates rise. This is conservative. Could be less time if rates go up more than 5%. (See below trends.)
Estimated NET cost: $ 11,900
Oh, yeah. This helps too:
Greenhouse Gas (CO2) Saved: 9618lbs/year, or like not driving 11,500 miles a year.
New average monthly electric bill (first year): About $28.50/month.
As always, this quote is general and could be less…or more. Solar is not a one size fits all sort of deal. Your cost will depend on a lot of factors, including your utility, roof type, energy usage, and lots of other things. In fact, check out these 9 ways it could be more expensive.
Best way to find out exactly is to get one of our free customized quotes. Just saying.
Another Reason to Go Solar: Rising Utility Rates
Check out the chart below. If electricity were simply to increase at a rate of 5.5% for the next 20 years, we’ll be looking at a $0.39 kWh charge for electricity from the utility. Your power bill for 1200kWh of usage will now total an average $259 a month from what used to be $100/month. Don’t think it can happen? Think again. Utility rates in Colorado have been increasing at 9% per year over the past 10 years. It is happening already.