Colorado Solar

Colorado Solar Information

This page has Colorado state information about solar tax rebates, credits, and incentives. Find more specific information for your area:

Moving to Colorado? Long-term resident? Looking to shave your power bills?

These days solar power is an increasingly popular option for homeowners. Besides the advantage of low power costs, there are all sorts of tax breaks and other payments available from the government, the state, and the power companies — if you know the system. Here’s our handy guide for CO zipcodes.

Solar Panel Payback Time in Colorado

Let’s start with the biggie. How long will it take to get your installation costs back? Based on a 5kW installation size, it will take roughly ten years to pay for itself. That’s taking into account all rebates, incentives, and tax credits (below). Keep in mind that home solar is one of a handful of home improvements that pays for itself.

Federal Solar Tax Credit

Did you know that you can claim back 30% of the cost of your solar installation against your tax bill? If not, you need our primer on the Federal Solar Tax Credit. But remember to come back to this page for the skinny on Colorado’s local tax breaks.

Colorado State Solar Rebates and Tax Credits

Putting solar panels on your roof? Colorado’s a pretty good place to do it — especially if you’re with one of the power companies providing rebates against your installation. Right now, those are Black Hills, Colorado Springs, La Plata Electric, San Miguel Power, United Power or Holy Cross. They’ll give you an upfront rebate based on the size of your installation, anything from a few hundred to a few thousand bucks. Xcel has a similar program, but it’s not open to installations bigger than 10kWh, so watch out! Poudre Valley‘s scheme is closed until 2013. There are some other small rebates available from Colorado localities — check RechargeColorado for initiatives in your area.

Colorado Solar Tax Exemptions

Solar panels will always increase the value of your home (see solar home value). The rule of thumb is to figure your annual power bill savings and multiply by 20 — quite a tidy sum! In Colorado, state legislation authorizes counties and municipalities to exclude renewables from any valuation for property tax purposes — if they’ve taken up the option, you’ll get the full benefit of installing those panels when you sell up. There’s also legislation giving your town or county the option of rebating any state sales or use taxes relating to those panels.

Colorado Net Metering

Planning on selling surplus solar power back to the grid? Colorado’s a pretty good place to do it — if you’re with Black Hills. They’ll credit you at their going rate against future bills.

But, even if your local Colorado power company doesn’t want to pay you directly, you can deal with them via Solar Renewable Energy Credits.

Don’t know what SRECs are? Read on.

Colorado SRECs

Colorado’s utility companies are mandated by the state legislature to get a chunk of their power requirements from renewable sources by 2020. It’s no surprise that the power companies are keen to buy solar power from homeowners — the alternative is a hefty fine!

Those power companies are big outfits and it’s hard for them to deal in the small quantities of power produced by the average home solar installation. The accepted workaround is to reckon in terms of Solar Renewable Energy Credits, or SRECs. Here’s how it works.

The state credits you one SREC for every 1,000 kWh of power your system produces. A typical home installation might generate five SRECs a year. Right now they’re worth $200 each, so you can expect to make about $1,000 income each year from your system.

But how will you collect the money? Well, for most people the best solution is to sell those SRECs to an outfit like SRECtrade, who will handle negotiations with the power company. Your solar company will likely take care of all the necessary paperwork — you just sit back and wait for the checks to roll in.

More information

Right now, Colorado’s ClimateSmart implementation of the PACE financing program is on hold. That’s a shame, because PACE is a great initiative. Keep watching that website…

Big installation? Look into the Direct Lending Revolving Loan Program. But the DLRLS is really for $100k+ systems — that’s beyond our scope.

Ask your local solar installer. The best way to get information about local tax credits may be to talk to a professional in your area. They have experience filing for various tax credits and incentives, and they’d be happy to put together a custom solar quote for your home that includes all of these factors. Get a free solar quote today.

If you’re moving to Denver or a href=””>Boulder, check our city guides.