As a state with more than 300 days of sunshine a year, Colorado is a prime location for solar energy.
The state has landed in most top 10 lists regarding solar, from most solar installed per capita to greatest solar job growth.
Colorado has one of the nation’s strongest renewable portfolio standards (RPSs), which requires investor-owned utilities to source 30 percent of their energy from renewable energy by 2020. The RPS also requires IOU utilities, and to a lesser extent rural and municipal utilities to source a certain amount of their power from distributed generation sources like homes and small businesses.
A growing number of homeowners in the state are choosing to install systems on their homes with no up-front costs through power-purchase agreements or leases. Regardless of their choice there are plenty of qualified solar installers in the state that can explain options and costs prior to installing a system.
Colorado is home to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, several small, medium and growing solar manufacturing companies and solar training centers.
All this has culminates in a rich environment for solar thermal and photovoltaic installations throughout the state. As the price of photovoltaics has dropped and solar has become more popular, the incentive programs offered by utilities like Xcel Energy have decreased. But Colorado also is the hotbed for a new type of solar array, the community solar garden, through which residents can buy a part of a local solar array and use that to offset their electricity costs.
In addition to the utility incentive programs offered in Colorado, the state offers property- and sales-tax exemptions. Combined with federal incentive programs there are plenty of options to save on the cost of your solar equipment and installation.
The has employed an aggressive strategy for reducing the "soft" costs of solar that result from cumbersome permitting processes. Colorado's Solar Friendly Communities is an offshoot of the national Sunshot Initiative that has resulted in several municipalities and county governments developing streamlined application and approval processes. Colorado easily has some of the strongest support in the nation for renewable energy.
(As of August 2014)
Local Grant Program
Local Loan Program
Local Rebate Program
Property Tax Incentive
Sales Tax Incentive
State Loan Program
Sales Tax Incentive
State Loan Program
Utility Loan Program
Utility Rebate Program
Rules, Regulations & Policies
Building Energy Code
Energy Efficiency Resource Standard
Energy Standards for Public Buildings
Green Power Purchasing
Line Extension Analysis
Mandatory Utility Green Power Option
Public Benefits Fund
Renewables Portfolio Standard
Solar/Wind Access Policy
Solar/Wind Permitting Standards
Related Programs & Initiatives
The U.S. Department of Energy's Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC) provides information, data and tools to help fleets and other transportation decision-makers find ways to reduce petroleum consumption through the use of alternative and renewable fuels, advanced vehicles, and other fuel-saving measures.
The U.S. Department of Energy's Green Power Network provides news and information on green power markets and activities, including opportunities to buy green power. This site provides state-by-state information on green power marketing and utility green power programs. In addition, the site lists marketers of renewable energy credits (RECs), also known as green tags or renewable energy certificates, which represent the environmental attributes of the power produced from renewable energy projects.
The U.S. Department of Energy's Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) enables low-income families to reduce their energy bills by making their homes more energy-efficient. Through this program, weatherization service providers install energy-efficiency measures in the homes of qualifying homeowners free of charge. The WAP program web site offers a state-by-state map of opportunities, projects and activities.
The U.S. Department of Energy's Wind Powering America site provides state-by-state information on wind projects and activities, including wind working groups, validated wind maps, anemometer loan programs, small wind guides, state-specific news, wind for schools, workshops and web casts.
|Program Type||Property tax exemption|
|Technologies||Photovoltaics (solar panels), Solar Space Heat, Solar Water Heat, Wind, Biomass, Geothermal Heat Pumps, Small Hydroelectric|
100% percent tax exemption for photovoltaics, varies for other technologies by local variances
|Required Documentation||Receipt of purchase and installation|
|Official Web Site||http://www.dola.state.co.us/dpt/index.htm|
Residential photovoltaic installations and some other renewable energy installations, like wind, up to 2 AC megawatts in size are 100 percent exempt from property taxes in Colorado.The system must primarily be used to supply electricity to the onsite home or building. Property taxation of some other forms of renewable energy like solar space heating, biomass or geothermal and others may be determined on a local basis. To learn more about whether such systems are exempt locally, discuss it with an installer or check with the local municipality or county.
Sales Tax Incentive
Solar Water Heat, Solar Space Heat, Solar Thermal Electric, Solar Thermal Process Heat, Photovoltaics, Wind, Biomass, Geothermal Electric, Other Renewables (not specified)
|Amount||100% Expemtion at state level|
|Official Web Site||http://www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite/Revenue/REVX/1176842266433|
In Colorado solar, wind, geothermal and other renewable energy systems are exempt from state sales and use tax—at least through July 2017. This includes exemption from taxation of all sales, storage, and use of components used in the production of alternating current electricity from a renewable energy source. This includes equipment like trackers, generating equipment, supporting structures or racks, inverters, towers and foundations, balance of system components such as wiring, control systems, switchgears, and generator step-up transformers.
While the exemption only applies to state-level taxes, Colorado also enacted legislation that allowed local jurisdictions, towns, counties, cities, etc., to also exempt renewables from sales and use taxes. Check with local jurisdictions to find out whether or not they tax such purchases or uses.
|Program Type||Performance-Based Incentive|
Incentives are reduced over time as certain thresholds, in terms of solar installed, are met.
• Customer-owned systems up to 25 kW: $0.03/kWh for first 10 years of production
• Customer and third-party systems from 25 kW to 500 kW: $0.06 for the first 6 megawatts and $0.05 for the final megawatt.
• Systems 25-500 kW: $0.06/kWh for first 6 MW and $0.05/kWh for last 1 MW
|Official Web Site|
In addition to net metering, Xcel offers a performance-based rebate program that reduces the cost of solar installations.
This program is so wildly popular that Xcel suspended it for all of 2013. When the utility opened it again June 20, 2014, it only took five days for the number of applications Xcel received to exceed the program capacity. The utility is still accepting applications, but won't assign a new REC amount until it has a final decision on the Renewable Energy Standard, which isn't expected until September or later.