Nationwide Home Solar Power Contractors and Information
Colorado is a major player in the U.S. solar industry. It is home to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and enjoys liberal portions of Rocky Mountain sunshine. Colorado has passed several state laws protecting and promoting solar power, including access laws, permitting standards, mandatory green power options and an aggressive renewable portfolio standard (RPS).
Colorado law mandates that all investor-owned utilities get 30% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020 -- one of the most stringent mandates in the country. In response, Colorado's renewable energy industry has skyrocketed, with a plethora of rebates and incentives popping up along the way to fuel that rise. And the fact that Colorado was the first state to enact an RPS through ballot initiative proves the people's yearn for clean, renewable energy in the Rocky Mountain state.
Colorado is chock-full of solar incentives, from larger state rebate programs to small local incentives, including solar permit offsets offered by the cities of Aurora and Lakewood. Below are descriptions of Colorado's state-level incentive programs, which apply to all residents as of June 2010. For information specific to your city, county or electricity provider, see the very comprehensive Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE), where information and links to all applicable programs may be found.
Local Option - PACE Financing
Colorado law allows cities and counties to adopt Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing programs through the development of Improvement Districts for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Improvements. These incentives allow homeowners to avoid up-front costs for home solar power by borrowing from the municipality for some or all of the costs and then paying the loan back with interest through an increase in property taxes. These type of loans are not tied to the individual but rather the property, so the original signee can move and the debt will not travel with them but remain with the property. Boulder County was the first to implement a program using the PACE financing scheme.
There are a few tax incentives available for renewable energy systems. There are Local Options (which let cities or counties decide) for property tax and local sales and use tax exemptions. Statewide, all equipment related to a solar electric or solar thermal system are exempt from 100 percent of state sales and use taxes. The state incentive is valid through July 1, 2017.
State Rebate Program
Recharge Colorado is a rebate program administered by the Governor's Energy Office offering rebates for photovoltaics (PV), solar water heat and wind power. Up to $1.50 per watt-installed is available to home systems dependent on whether local incentives are available. Up to $3,000 may be available to solar thermal systems, again depending on local options. This program was enacted on April 19, 2010, just in time for Earth Day. Customers of utilities Xcel Energy and Black Hills Energy do not qualify for the rebates. Those utilities already offer PV incentives. Equipment must be purchased on or after the start date and installation must be performed by a contractor listed in the vendor database on the Recharge Colorado website.
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