Colorado's electricity prices average $0.12/kWh, below the national average of $0.14/kWh.
From 2010 to 2019, the state's renewable power generation has doubled to about ¼ of net generation. In 2019 small-scale solar, including rooftop solar, accounted for more than ⅓ of total solar generation in the state. Colorado is a national leader in community solar projects or "solar gardens," with nearly 70 active installs generating over 50mW to-date.
The average cost of a 5kW (equivalent to saving over 100 trees a year) solar power system starts around $17,500 in Colorado. Before any incentives, in the first year you’d save about $900, compared to if you had been paying the normal rates for the energy you used. These savings can continue for well over 25 years, improving with inflation.
This depends on may factors such as your system size, power output, and financing. Here are the main ways you can finance your home solar power system, and the kinds of returns you may expect to see:
From our example above, the homeowner purchased a 5kW system to offset their energy bill. Overhead cost was $17,500, with a significant proportion returned in the first year through incentives, rebates, and savings, then paying itself in full over 11 years.
Most solar power systems have a warranty lifetime of 25 years. In that time, between incentives and paying lower rates you could make a profit of around $18,000 - equivalent to the up-front cost of the system!
Even with occasional maintenance or part replacement, that is a massive savings. Solar panel power output falls on average 0.8% per year, so with a little TLC and load management you can extend the life of your system well beyond the warranty’s expiration date, continuing to save indefinitely.
Whether or not you can afford the up-front cost of the install, you may want to consider a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC). With equity in your home, or good credit, you may qualify for a 15-year solar HELOC with fixed rate of 4% or lower.
Starting with that same 5kW system costing $17,500 but with zero up-front cost, accounting for incentives, credits, rebates, and annual energy savings starting around $900, you could see a revenue surplus of about $5,000 at the end of the first year.
Save that money though. Your loan payments will likely exceed your power savings by about $50/month for the 15-year term. Once the loan is paid off, you can expect to save about $1,200 a year. Over 25 years you could expect to make about $13,000.
With a Power-Purchase Agreement (PPA) the homeowner leases their roof to an outside party, usually a power company. Generally PPAs feature a fixed price per kWh, with either a fixed term or an annual escalator.
With a PPA, the cost of installation, repair, and maintenance to the homeowner is usually $0.00. For that 5kW system, with a PPA you could expect to save about $11/month on energy. Over a 20 years contract, you could see over $4,500 in revenue. That’s technically an infinite return!
PPA’s can be complicated, as you are effectively ceding at least some control of your home to the third party, but they are an excellent way to get into solar because they have no overhead.
Data from DSIRE. For more info visit: https://www.dsireusa.org/
|Name||Implementing Sector||Program Type||Administrator||DSIRE ID|
|Aspen Electric - Net Metering||Utility||Net Metering||90|
|Solar, Wind, and Energy Efficiency Easements and Rights Laws||State||Solar/Wind Access Policy||259|
|Mandatory Photovoltaic System Cost Estimate||State||Line Extension Analysis||260|
|Net Metering||State||Net Metering||271|
|Utility PV Rebate||State||Rebate Program||273|
|Denver - Green Power Purchasing||Local||Green Power Purchasing||305|
|Aspen - Grid-Tied Micro Hydro Grant||Local||Grant Program||Community Office for Resource Efficiency (CORE)||500|
|Fuel Mix Disclosure||State||Generation Disclosure||650|
|Colorado Electric Cooperatives - Interconnection Standards||Utility||Interconnection||1072|
|Xcel Energy - Interconnection Standards||Utility||Interconnection||1073|
|Denver - Solar Access||Local||Solar/Wind Access Policy||1097|
|Colorado Springs Utilities - Net Metering||Utility||Net Metering||1359|
|Grand Valley Rural Electric Association - Net Metering||Utility||Net Metering||1482|
|Mandatory Green Power Option for Large Municipal Utilities||State||Mandatory Utility Green Power Option||2480|
|Colorado Clean Energy Fund||State||Public Benefits Fund||2858|
|Clean Energy Fund||State||Public Benefits Fund||2859|
|Clean Energy Fund||State||Public Benefits Fund||2864|
|Property Tax Exemption for Third Party-Owned Residential Photovoltaics||State||Property Tax Incentive||4208|
|Property Tax Exemption for Residential Renewable Energy Equipment||State||Property Tax Incentive||Division of Property Taxation / Local Assessors||4210|
|Energy Efficiency Resource Standard||State||Energy Efficiency Resource Standard||4489|
|SourceGas - Residential Energy Efficiency Rebate Program||Utility||Rebate Program||5234|
|Xcel Energy - Solar*Rewards Community Program||Utility||Performance-Based Incentive||Xcel Energy||5295|
|Eagle, Garfield, Gunnison, Lake, and Pitkin Counties - Energy Smart Colorado Loan Program||Local||Loan Program||Energy Smart Colorado||5349|
|Eagle County - Energy Smart Colorado Energy Efficiency Rebate Program||Local||Rebate Program||Walking Mountains Science Center||5452|
|Income Tax Credit Carryover||State||Personal Tax Credit||5502|
|Adams County - Energy from Community Solar Gardens||Local||Energy Standards for Public Buildings||5531|
|Gunnison County - Energy Smart Colorado Energy Efficiency Rebate Program||Local||Rebate Program||5557|
|City of Aspen and Pitkin County - Renewable Energy Mitigation Program Grants||Local||Grant Program||Community Office for Resource Efficiency||5558|
|Summit County - Energy Smart Colorado Energy Efficiency Rebate Program||Local||Rebate Program||High Country Conservation Center||5562|
|Summit County - Energy Smart Colorado Renewable Energy Rebate Program||Local||Rebate Program||High Country Conservation Center||5563|
|Lake County - Energy Smart Colorado Energy Efficiency Rebate Program||Local||Rebate Program||Cloud City Conservation Center||5564|
|Gunnison County - Energy Smart Colorado Energy Efficiency Rebate Program||Local||Rebate Program||Office for Resource Efficiency||5565|
|Gunnison County - Energy Smart Colorado Renewable Energy Rebate Program||Local||Rebate Program||Office for Resource Efficiency||5566|
|Lake County - Energy Smart Colorado Renewable Energy Rebate Program||Local||Rebate Program||Cloud City Conservation Center||5569|
|Xcel Energy - Residential Energy Efficiency Financing||Utility||Loan Program||5627|
|Xcel Energy - Commercial Energy Efficiency Financing||Utility||Loan Program||5628|
|Xcel Energy - Non-Solar REC Program||Utility||Performance-Based Incentive||5718|
|Efficiency Works - Commercial New Construction Incentive Program||Utility||Rebate Program||5797|
|Boulder County - EnergySmart Commercial Energy Efficiency Rebate Program||Local||Rebate Program||5876|
|C-PACE: Colorado Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy||State||PACE Financing||Sustainable Real Estate Solutions, Inc||5878|
|BOMA International - BEEP (BOMA Energy Efficiency Program)||Non-Profit||Training and Information||BOMA International||14470|
|Fort Collins Utilities - Integrated Design Assistance Program||Utility||Energy Analysis||Fort Collins Utilities||14482|
|Fort Morgan Light and Power - ENERGYsmart Commercial Lighting Program||Utility||Energy Analysis||Fort Morgan Light and Power||14485|
|Holy Cross Energy - Audits||Utility||Energy Analysis||Holy Cross Energy||14492|
|Xcel Energy - Energy Design Assistance||Utility||Energy Analysis||Xcel Energy||14520|
|Xcel Energy - Online Energy Assessment||Utility||Energy Analysis||Xcel Energy||14525|
|Lamar Light and Power - Commercial Energy Audit||Utility||Energy Analysis||Lamar Light and Power||16083|
|Southeast Colorado Power Association - Audits||Utility||Energy Analysis||Southeast Colorado Power Association||16092|
|Fort Collins Utilities Light & Power - ElectriConnect||Utility||Energy Analysis||Fort Collins Utilities Light & Power||16231|
|Xcel Energy - Recommissioning||Utility||Energy Analysis||Xcel Energy||16363|
|Atmos Energy - Energy Matters||Other||Training and Information||Atmos Energy||16506|
|Xcel Energy - Small Business Lighting||Utility||Energy Analysis||Xcel Energy||16804|
|Xcel Energy - Business Energy Advisor||Utility||Energy Analysis||Xcel Energy||16808|
|Colorado Springs Utilities - First Source Newsletter and Online Resources||Other||Energy Analysis||Colorado Springs Utilities||17513|
|U.S. Department of Energy - Industrial Assessment Center (IAC): Colorado State University||Federal||Energy Analysis||U.S. Department of Energy||17592|
|City of Boulder - EnergySmart||Local||Energy Analysis||EnergySmart||17983|
|Southeast Colorado Power Association - Kill A Watt Loan Program||Utility||Energy Analysis||Southeast Colorado Power Association||18468|
|Xcel Energy - Business Solutions||Utility||Energy Analysis||Xcel Energy||19014|
|Fort Morgan Light and Power - Audits||Utility||Energy Analysis||Fort Morgan Light and Power||19119|
|Sangre De Cristo Electric Association - Business Energy Advisor||Utility||Other||Sangre De Cristo Electric Association||19139|
|Southwest Energy Efficiency Project - Colorado Industrial Energy Challenge||Other||Energy Analysis||Southwest Energy Efficiency Project||19141|
|Fort Collins Utilities - Keep Current Program||Utility||Training and Information||Fort Collins Utilities Light & Power||19156|
|Estes Park Light and Power - Efficiency Works Program||Other||Energy Analysis||Estes Park Light and Power||19389|
|Xcel Energy - Business New Construction Program||Utility||Energy Analysis||Xcel Energy||19791|
|Xcel Energy - Commercial Standard Offer||Utility||Energy Analysis||Xcel Energy||19799|
|Xcel Energy - Energy At Risk Financial Analysis Tool||Utility||Energy Analysis||Xcel Energy||19808|
|Xcel Energy - Windsource for Business||Utility||Other||Xcel Energy||19809|
|Southeast Colorado Power Association - Green Power||Utility||Other||Southeast Colorado Power Association||20507|
|Fort Collins Utilities - Climate Wise||Utility||Energy Analysis||Fort Collins Utilities Light & Power||20709|
|Xcel Energy - Energy Management Systems||Utility||Energy Analysis||Xcel Energy||21197|
|Southwest Energy Efficiency Project - Colorado Energy Efficiency Guide||Other||Training and Information||Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP)||21563|
|Residential Energy Upgrade (RENU) Loan Program||State||Loan Program||Colorado Energy Office and Elevations Credit Union||22061|
|City of Aspen - Commercial Energy Efficiency Rebate Program||Utility||Rebate Program||City of Aspen||22081|
|Atmos Energy (Gas) - Commercial and Industrial Energy Efficiency Rebate Program||Utility||Rebate Program||22082|
|San Isabel Electric Association - Commercial Lighting Rebate Program||Utility||Rebate Program||San Isabel Electric Association||22083|
|La Plata Electric Association - Commercial Energy Efficiency Rebate Program||Utility||Rebate Program||La Plata Electric Association||22084|