As a state with over 300 days of sunshine a year, Colorado is a prime location for solar energy—and it knows it! Colorado is among the vanguard states for solar on a number of fronts. It 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. As solar has gained popularity in the state so too have options for residents in the state. For instance, 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 also is home to solar testing centers, including the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. 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 state also is doing a lot to help reduce the cost of solar by, for instance, participating in the Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative, in one instance to to simplify the permitting process throughout parts of the state, making it easier, quicker and cheaper to permit solar systems in the state. Locally, residents and businesses can also find grant, loan or rebate programs that can help them finance solar and other renewable energy projects. Colorado easily has some of the strongest support in the nation for renewable energy.
(As of October 2012)