The best payback and return on investment for solar is to pay up front, out of pocket.
Another good option available to Colorado homeowners is the RENU loan program established by Colorado Energy Office. The RENU loan program is designed to provide low-interest financing for energy efficiency upgrades, including solar PV. Installation projects must be completed by an authorized RENU contractor. Visit the RENU website for a list of authorized contractors.
Some areas and installers offer solar leases and power purchase agreements (PPA) – through which a company pays for the cost of the system in exchange for the opportunity to take advantage of the tax benefits. The homeowner or business owner then makes monthly payments to the lease or PPA holder for the use of the solar equipment or the kilowatt-hours generated.
PV panel installations have increased in recent years as costs have come down and technology has improved.
Benefits to installing Solar:
- Save Money on Your Utility Bills. This is often the #1 reason people choose to go solar. Once connected, solar panels start producing electricity that you don’t need to buy from your utility.
- Tax Advantages. Through the current Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), 30% of the cost of the system can be redeemed as a tax credit. The ITC will step down to 26% in 2020, and to 22% in 2021, after which the residential tax credit is scheduled to be eliminated while the commercial tax credit drops to a fixed 10% of the cost.
- Clean Energy. Solar is a 100% clean, renewable energy source. Using solar power rather than conventional fossil fuel reduces the amount of carbon and other pollutants that are emitted into the environment, which translates into less pollution and cleaner air for everyone.
- Freedom and control. Retail residential electricity rates across the country have risen by about 15% over the last decade. Installing solar panels today reserves your cost of electricity for life of the installed panels (typically about 25 years.) Adding battery storage to your solar system can increase your freedom from the electric grid even further, as battery storage enables power to be supplied to your home at night and during power outages.
- Low maintenance. Occasional cleaning and snow removal is all the maintenance most solar panels need.
Elements to consider as you evaluate installing Solar:
- Efficiency. We always recommend efficiency first so you know how much solar power is needed to offset an already efficient home or business. Sign-up for an energy assessment to make sure your home or business is using energy wisely.
- Rebates Available. Solar costs have come down considerably, but continue to be a substantial investment. Weigh your options by obtaining multiple quotes, assessing your finances and identifying any local rebates available. Contact your local Energy Smart Partner, your electricity provider and/or review the national database to find additional rebate opportunities.
- Tax Credit. The Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) has been one of the most important incentives to drive solar adoption in the U.S. Solar customers currently receive a tax credit valued at 30% of the cost of the solar system installed. This tax credit begins stepping down in 2020.
- Utility Connection. Most solar installations are grid-tied, meaning you interconnect with your local electric provider. The grid essentially provides back up and allows solar customers to get credit for the solar energy generated through net metering. Reputable solar installers will generally handle the interconnection process with the local electric utility for you.
- Location. Solar panels can be installed on your roof or mounted on the ground. Ground-mounted systems are typically more expensive than roof mounted systems, but may be a good option if your roof isn’t positioned well or doesn’t have enough space. Community solar, or solar gardens, are offered to allow individuals and businesses opportunities to buy into a large solar array off-site. Participant utility bills are in turn credited for a portion of the power produced by the larger array. This can be a good option for tenants who may not be able to install solar at their own property. Contact your electricity provider to find out if investing in a solar garden is an option for you.
- Roof-mounted systems. If you plan to install panels on your roof, a qualified solar installer will help you evaluate your roof for solar. The installer will help you understand how much space you have available for solar, which way your roof faces, the angle of the roof, as well as what type of roofing material, and how old the roof may be.
- Shade. Solar panels use the sun’s light to create electricity. Any amount of shade on your array can negatively impact generation. Trees, other buildings and large chimneys can shade your system and should be considered during design.
- Size of System. By reviewing your past year of electricity usage, you can determine how many kilowatt hours you use on annual basis. Typically, your utility provider will allow you to install a system that produces up to 120% of your past year’s usage.