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Clear info on home solar power rebates, tax credits, and other benefits

2017 Policy Grade


Avg. Yearly Savings


Congratulations! You've found the ultimate guide to going solar in Colorado

2017 Policy Grade


Avg. Savings/year


At Solar Power Rocks, our dream is to turn your thoughts of solar power for your home into reality

Note: The numbers above are just estimates for a 5kW solar system, and your home is unique. The best way to know exactly how much money solar power can save you is to connect with one of our partners nearby. A friendly solar expert we trust will give you a buzz and help you craft a personal plan to get the absolute most out of a solar power system for your home. It's 100% free (yes, that’s right, 100% free) and you aren't obligated to buy anything.

Coloradans are smart, smart people. In 2004, the state's citizens voted to enact the nation's first Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard, setting a goal of 30% of electric generation from the state's biggest utilities coming from renewable sources by 2020. Then, in 2015, both Colorado and Federal courts rejected a constitutional challenge of that mandate. Good job, Colorado!

On top of that, the wonderful citizens of continue to display a refreshing foresight for our future and a healthy respect for the state's environment. While there is always room to improve (more performance-based payments and some state tax credits would be icing on the cake), Colorado’s tax exemptions, and net metering regulations ensure the Rocky Mountain State will remain high indeed on our list of solar-friendly places.

Questions? Our network of solar experts are on call to assist you. Simply sign up for personalized assistance on our special solar deals page. You can get discounted on-grid pricing as low as $3,500/kW! This is paired with the Colorado solar incentives you see below.

Your guide to going solar in Colorado

We've designed this page to be a complete guide to the complicated and sometimes confusing process of installing solar panels on a home in Colorado. Since there's a lot of important information to consider, we've separated the page into sections to help you find what you are looking for. If you find this page useful, please share it with someone who might also find it interesting!

The Solar Strategy section is all about the various financial options you have in Colorado. We've created a tool that asks you a few questions about what you hope to get out of a solar purchase and recommends whether you should pursue a solar lease, loan, or outright purchase. Then, we give you a detailed picture of how each could work for you.

The Policy Information section contains all of our latest research on the rules set by the state legislature and public utilities commission that determines how easy it is to go solar in Colorado. These policies and rules govern everything from renewable energy mandates to whether you get paid retail or wholesale rates for the extra energy your system produces, and can have a huge effect on the viability of solar.

Finally, the Solar Incentives section lists all of the available financial benefits available to homeowners who go solar. This section includes information about money-back rebates and grants, tax credits, and tax exemptions. If you're looking for what Colorado is doing to make solar more affordable for its citizens, you'll find it here.

We hope you find our work useful. If so, please help us keep our research and advocacy as strong as possible by sharing it with someone who might also find it interesting, contributing any amount you can, and by getting yourself personalized savings estimates from our trusted partner network.

Click any of the boxes below to go to that section of the page, or scroll down to read the page in order.

Your Solar Strategy in Colorado

Figuring out the best way to go solar in Colorado can be a little daunting. From loans and leases to power-purchase agreements, there are a lot of options out there. To help you pick the one that might be best, we've created the handy decision tool below.

We'll ask you a few simple questions about you and your home. Once you're done, we'll recommend a good option. Further down this page, we provide cost estimates and example return-on-investment calculations for all the various options:

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Compare the Return of Different Solar Investments in Colorado

The chart above shows the 25-year returns for an investment in solar whether you choose to purchase a system with cash or pay over time with a loan or lease. As you can see, the purchase option leads to the highest dollar-amount returns over time, but it also requires a big up-front investment. If you take a solar loan or home equity line of credit (HELOC), though, your payments over 15 years will be only a little more than your savings, and you'll still come out tens of thousands ahead in the end.

The option with the smallest savings is for a solar lease or PPA, which means you put $0 down on a rooftop solar system and pay monthly while you accumulate electricity bill savings over time. Leases and PPAs are an excellent option if you don't have any equity or cash to put down.

Read on to find out more about each option.

Net Present Value of Solar in Colorado

“Net Present What?!” Don’t panic, this isn’t an economics test. NPV is just a tool used to compare investments. Basically, it asks, “if you had X dollars to invest, which investment would get you the best return?” It relies on the idea that getting a return on your investment sooner is better than later, because you can reinvest your early profits and keep the gain train going.

We compare an investment in solar to a “what-if” investment in a Standard & Poor’s (S&P) 500 stock index fund, which has seen growth of about 7% per year over the past 25 years. We use the cost of solar in Colorado and ask “how much better or worse (in 2017 dollars) is an investment in solar than stocks?” Here's what we found for the three different ways of going solar in Colorado:

Look at all that green! A solar investment in Colorado should provide a better return than the stock market whether you choose a PPA, a loan, or pay up front. Here's some more about how we got these numbers:

Solar PPA NPV: $2,127

Saving money without having to put anything down is always going to have a positive NPV. In Colorado, you’ll save $4,427 by paying for electricity under a solar PPA for 20 years, which is worth $2,127 in today’s dollars. Read more about PPAs in Colorado below.

Solar Loan NPV: $4,676

As we’re fond of saying, taking a loan for solar is a no-brainer, because it means paying over time for something that is also making you money, plus you get 30% of the loan value as a tax credit (cash in your pocket) after the 1st year. In Colorado, that tax credit windfall helps push the NPV of a solar loan to $4,676 better than a similar investment in the stock market. That's a huge amount of upside for a $0-down investment! Read more about solar loans below

Solar Purchase NPV: $1,563

Want proof that a loan is the best way to go? Look at what happens if you put a huge chunk of cash down on a solar system. Don't get us wrong, a solar purchase in Colorado is still better than investing in the stock market, but you can see above what happens to NPV if you choose a solar loan instead. Unless you need to put cash into an asset, a loan is a much smarter way to pay for solar panels. Read more about solar purchases below.

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blue  Solar Power-Purchase Agreements in Colorado

Coloradans have long enjoyed the ability to get solar from a third-party company and pay monthly, and getting solar with a lease or Power-Purchase Agreement (PPA) is still a great way to go. The state legislature and public utilities commissions are generally into letting people go solar in a number of ways, so there isn't much reason to worry that utility companies will start trying to impose monthly fees on solar homeowners like they have in other states.

For now, signing a PPA for a 5-kW solar system can save you about $11 per month, which might not seem like much, but adds up to big money over the 20-year PPA Contract.

Here's how a solar PPA works:

Example savings in Colorado

Annual Electric Bill Before Solar


Annual Electric Bill After Solar


Est. Annual Solar Payments


Average Annual Savings


Power-Purchase Agreements (PPAs) are the most popular form of what's called "third-party solar." A PPA just means your solar company owns the panels on your roof, and you pay for the electricity they produce. The numbers above show the savings with a solar PPA for an average home in Colorado. The typical electric bill before solar power is super expensive, but with a PPA, your monthly expenses will be lower. You'll be saving money and saving the planet all at the same time!

Here's an estimate of the monthly savings for a solar PPA in Colorado:

Monthly solar PPA savings in Colorado

With a PPA, your solar company essentially becomes a second utility provider, only the solar electricity is sold to you at a lower rate than the fossil fuel electricity you've been buying from the electric company! Note: your PPA won't eliminate your power bill from your regular electric provider, because you'll still need energy from the grid when the sun isn't shining. But it will save you money!

The less-popular cousin of the third-party solar family is the solar lease. It's basically like renting your panels for a set monthly payment, and getting all the energy they produce—however much it is. Don't get spooked by that language, though. A typical solar lease comes with energy production guarantees that will make sure you're getting what you paid for. In fact, if you're not offered a production guarantee with a solar lease, walk away.

Here's the best part of third-party solar: whether you end up with a lease or a PPA, the installation company owns the panels and will do all the maintenance for you. Usually that means just a good cleaning every year, but if any part of that system fails, you're off the hook! That can be a great benefit to homeowners who are risk averse.

Keep in mind, the numbers above are based on an average home in Colorado. If you're ready for a custom quote for a solar lease or PPA, our network of experts are on call to assist you. Simply sign up for personalized assistance on our special solar deals page.

Home Solar Power: PPA vs. Purchasing

To PPA, or not to PPA? Willsolar Shakespanels would be proud we're discussing this. Here's the basic deal. If you choose to lease your panels, you benefit from no out of pocket costs and an immediately reduced total electricity payment. Because of this, many regard this option as a no-brainer, since there isn't any downside to think of. The only hiccup you'll start to experience is when you consider the long term financial benefit of owning the solar panel system yourself.

In many situations, if you can afford the outlay or can easily secure financing, the cost of the install becomes an investment with a return outpacing even the strongest performing mutual funds. In addition, there's significantly less principal risk, since the energy credits you will be producing are tied to the sun coming up in the morning instead of our financial markets!

Additionally, if you go the PPA route, you must forfeit all the credits and performance payments you would receive by owning the system yourself to the solar PPA company (after all, that's how they can afford to give you such a no-brainer proposition in the first place).

orange square  Solar Loans in Colorado

Don't have $18,000 sitting around to pay for solar? No sweat! As long as you have equity in your home, you can still own solar panels and reap all the benefits. Heck, even if you do have the cash, getting a loan to pay for solar is still the best option when it comes to percentage return on investment.

That’s because using a loan to pay for solar is like investing in a really sweet IRA. Making your loan payments almost like funding an investment account, because the solar panels on your roof produce income (returns). Once the loan is paid off (fully vested), you're making almost $1,200/year in profits, netting thousands over the 25-year life of your system.

A solar purchase like this will make sense for you if the following is true about you and your current situation:

  • You can qualify for a solar loan or home-equity line of credit (HELOC) for $17,500, with a fixed rate of 4.5% or lower and a 15-year repayment period.
  • You love making money without much risk

The reason this works so well is that you don’t have to put any money down, but you still get all of the incentives that go along with buying solar. You'll get the 30% federal tax credit in year 1, and the energy bill savings will start right away. Like we mentioned above, your loan payments will be a tiny bit higher than those energy bill savings, so you'll end up spending about $64/month for solar in the first year. That difference will come down each year as electricity prices rise, but your system will keep on producing about the same amount of electricity.

Here’s how the numbers pencil out for a Colorado solar purchase financed with a loan:

  • Installing a typical 5-kW solar system should start at about $17,500. That's how big your loan will need to be to cover it.
  • The electricity you'll save in the first year of operation would have cost $889, but your loan payments will total $1,442, for a difference of $553, or about $46 per month.
  • That's not so bad when you consider your tax savings for the year will be $5,250! You'll come out $4,697 ahead in year 1, which should help ease the burden of loan payments for a few years, at least.
  • The benefits of that early tax break are so great that you'll only begin spending money in year 9. And after the loan is paid off, your profits stack up just like if you bought the system outright. You'll end up with $12,607 in profits over our 25-year example.
  • On top of the green that will stay in your pocket, your system will mean green for the environment, too. 123 trees-worth, every year!
Keep in mind, the numbers above are based on an average home in Colorado. If you're ready for a custom quote for a solar loan, our network of experts are on call to assist you. Simply sign up for personalized assistance on our special solar deals page.

green square  Buying Solar in Colorado

An outright purchase used to be the only way to get solar, and it's still the option that provides the best dollar-for-dollar returns. The reason it's so great is that you own the system from day one and reap all the benefits. The Federal and State tax credit and electricity savings bring your first-year costs way down.

In our example, you put down $17,500 up front, but by the end of year 1, incentives and energy savings will erase a bunch of it. Over 25 years, your system will have produced nearly $18,000 in income.

Here’s how the numbers pencil out when you pay up front for a 5-kW rooftop solar system in Colorado:

We calculated these numbers for an average Colorado home, without rebates or performance payments. Read more at those links to see if you qualify for any of the state's incentives, and be sure to sign up for a custom quote from one of our local installer partners in Colorado!

  • Installing a typical 5kW solar system should start at about $17,500. Don’t worry – even without rebates, your first-year costs will be considerably less than that.
  • Since the Feds calculate their incentive based on actual out of pocket costs, the lack of rebates means a bigger federal solar tax credit. Subtract $5,250 (30% of $17,500) for a new price of $12,250.
  • After the tax credit we subtract your first year’s energy savings, which we estimate to be about $889. That reduces your cost after the first year to only $11,361.
  • Over the 25-year life of your system, you'll see a total net profit of $17,993, after the system pays for itself.
  • And don't forget... your home's value just increased by more than $20,000, too (your expected annual electricity savings over 20 years)!
  • In addition to all that cash (and home value), you’ve created some green for the earth as well by not using electricity from fossil fuels. It's like planting 123 trees a year, every year your solar power system is humming.
Keep in mind, the numbers above are based on an average home in Colorado. If you're ready for a custom quote for a solar panel system, our network of experts are on call to assist you. Simply sign up for personalized assistance on our special solar deals page.

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Colorado Solar Policy Information

Ever wonder why solar seems to be everywhere in some states, but not in others? We did too.

State legislatures and public utilities commissions can enact rules to make solar power accessible for everyone. Favorable rules explain why some of the cloudiest states—New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, are doing so well with solar, and yet some of those with the most natural solar resources—like Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida—are doing so poorly.

Below is important information about the public policy, rules, and economic reasons that affect your ability to go solar here in Colorado:


30% by 2020

Grade: B

Colorado's Renewable Portfolio Standard grade

Colorado was the first state to pass a Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS), and they continue to have one of the best such standards with their laudable goal of 30% renewable energy by 2020.

Colorado also mandates that by 2020 at least 3% of retail sales must come from distributed generation (“DG”), i.e. , not from giant, environmentally destructive power plants. Even better, at least half of that DG energy must come from local sources.

A strong state RPS is a critical part of the total solar package. By setting a high RPS like 30%, Colorado is not only setting a strong policy standard for other states to follow, they’re also setting high targets for the utility companies to meet. It is, after all, the utilities that sell the electricity to all you Coloradans; a great deal of the burden of meeting the RPS standards falls on them.

What does all this mean for you? It means that you want to make the switch to solar now, while you are being offered all this free money! The utility companies don’t want to just give you cash. They need customers to switch to renewable energy sources to help them meet those state-mandated renewable, distributed generation, and locally produced energy goals.

You can be certain that once the utility companies have met their share of those goals, they will stop supplementing your solar installation costs. That’s why Xcel, for instance, is only accepting a limited number of program entrants for its solar performance payments (more about this later). You know you want all that free money to help you save your wallet (and the environment)!

What's an RPS? Your state legislature paves the way for strong solar energy incentives to flourish by setting standards for renewable energy generation within their territories. Those standards are called the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS). If utility companies do not meet these standards, they must pay alternative compliance fees directly to the state. Many utilities then determine the best ways to source their energy from renewable sources that are less expensive than this fee.

An RPS is a mandate that says "Hey utilities! Y'all now have to make a certain percentage of your electricity from renewable sources. If not, you'll have to pay us huge fines." The consequences are good, because utilities usually try to meet these RPS standards by creating solar power incentives for you, the homeowner. Read more about Renewable Portfolio Standards.

RPS solar carve out

3% by 2020

Grade: A

Colorado's Solar Carve-out grade

While it isn’t explicitly a solar carve out, Colorado does require that at least 3% of the electricity sold by the state’s Investor-Owned Utilities come from distributed energy resources. That’s a fancy way of saying that they need lots of homeowners to serve electricity to the grid, and we think the best way is through generation of clean, reliable solar power!

What's a solar set aside? A solar set aside guarantees a specific portion of the overall renewable energy mix generated comes from the sun. For those states with progressive standards, high alternative compliance payments, and clear solar carve outs, the faster those areas become ripe for solar.

Some states have higher alternative compliance fees than others, and some states have more progressive alternative energy standards and deadlines than others do.

For instance, New Jersey has an overall RPS of 22.5% by the year 2021. That requires local utilities to source 22.5% of their energy mix from renewable sources by the year 2021. Pretty good. However, New Jersey also has a specific solar set aside of 4.1% by 2028. That’s the type of firm commitment which really gets the industry rolling forward. No wonder why New Jersey is one of the hottest solar markets right now!

Colorado Electricity Prices


Grade: C

Colorado's Electricity cost grade

Colorado homeowners pay about 12 cents per kilowatt-hour(kWh) of energy, just about even with the national average. So power these days isn’t prohibitively expensive; in fact it’s cheap enough that you may wonder why we are making all this fuss about solar power paying for itself in your electricity savings.

But think about why energy is currently so cheap. Ding ding ding! It comes from fossil fuels, which have been abundant and free-flowing for decades. Thing is, no matter whether you love burning coal or you love hugging trees, we can all look at the trend for energy prices and see that they will continue to go up, year after year, for the foreseeable future.

If electricity were simply to increase at a rate of 3.5% for the next 20 years, we’ll be looking at a doubling of electricity charges from the utility. Your power bill for 1200 kWh of usage will now total an average $236 a month for what used to cost $100/month.

Don’t think it can happen? Think again. A 3.5% increase is a conservative estimate for the mountain region. There was a 4.5% increase from 2013 to 2014 alone.

But as we said above, every home and everyone’s energy usage is different. The best way to see if solar is right for you is to connect with one of our installers on the ground. They’ll give you a free quote. Free is good. Costs you nothing but time, and if solar is right for you, well, you’re Golden- as in Colorado.

Why are electricity prices so important? Because that is what solar power is directly competing against. The cost to produce power with solar is relatively constant (of course how much sun hits your area has an effect), so if you are paying $0.40 per watt for power, then you make FOUR TIMES AS MUCH as the guy or girl paying $0.10 per watt electricity.

The caveat here is that if the $0.10 per watt person has a HUGE rebate, they may be better off than the $0.40 per watt person. Because of that, states without any renewable standards tend to be heavily reliant on cheap coal for electricity, and also have very low electricity prices. When electricity prices are artificially low, that hinders the ability of solar energy to achieve meaningful payback in the state.

Colorado Net Metering


Grade: A

Colorado's Net Metering grade

Net metering is one of the keys to successful solar policy, and Colorado may just have the best net metering laws in the country. In short, net metering makes sure that you get credit, either in energy or in cash, for every bit of energy you produce. Your utility will track how much solar power you produce and how much you use, and the utility will ‘store” any extra power your solar system produces. At night or on cloudy days, the utility credits your surplus power back to you.

In addition, Colorado requires utilities to pay you for the net excess energy that your system produces over the course of a year. So if you’re smart about your energy usage, your solar panel can actually turn a profit! The utility company will literally cut you a check at the end of the year for any extra solar juice you’ve contributed to the grid. Colorado makes taking advantage of those savings even easier, allowing you to opt either for the check or to simply roll your extra credit to any subsequent monthly bills. Have we mentioned how we like our renewable energy laws? You rock, Colorado.

What is net metering? Net metering is the billing arrangement where you can sell excess electricity back to your utility for equal the amount you are charged to consume it. The more customer friendly net metering policies, the higher the grade.

The grade here specifically reflects individual solar system capacity, caps on program capacity limits, restrictions on “rollover” of kWh from one month to the next (yep just like cell phone minutes), metering issues (like charges for new meters), Renewable Energy Credit (REC) ownership, eligible customers and technology (the more renewables the better), being able to aggregate meters across the property for net metering, and safe harbor provisions to protect customers from solar tariff changes.

Colorado Interconnection Rules


Colorado's Interconnection Standards grade

Interconnection refers to the rules and restrictions that govern how solar power systems are connected to the utility company’s lines. Colorado does a good job here, following federal recommendations, but they could improve by eliminating solar farm size restrictions and requirements to get additional insurance for solar installations.

Interconnection rules are a little technical, but they basically allow you to “plug in” to the electric grid with solar panels on your roof. The more complex, out of date, or nonsensical the state rules are for plugging into the grid, the lower the grade.

Specifically, the grade reflects what technologies are eligible, individual system capacity, removing interconnection process complexity for smaller systems, interconnection timelines and charges, engineering charges, prohibiting the requirement of unnecessary external disconnects, certification, spot interconnection vs. wide area interconnection, technical screens, friendliness of legalese, insurance requirements, dispute resolution, and rule coverage.

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Solar Incentives in Colorado

Colorado Solar Power Rebates

Varies by utility

Grade: D

Colorado's Solar Rebates grade

The real vein of Rockies gold for solar comes from Colorado’s utility companies. They have to meet the state’s RPS guidelines, so they’re willing to help you put solar on your roof, just for joining the world of electricity generation. Truth be told, though, the big, fat rebates of years past are all but gone in the Rocky Mountain State. The good news is prices for solar have dropped by about the same amount of the erstwhile rebate money! The rebates worked!

Here’s a guide to some of the utility-based programs out there right now:

Utility Company Rebate amount Notes
Colorado Springs Utilities $1/watt Subject to equipment warranty requirements. Funding exhausted until 2016.
Eagle County $500 Must be installed by a NABCEP-certified installer
Holy Cross Energy $200-$750/kW, based on size Max of $10,000, non-taxable entities can get additional incentives
La Plata Electric Association $300 Incentive switches to performance payments for systems larger than 10kW
Lake County $400 Must be installed by a NABCEP-certified installer
Poudre Valley REA $1/watt Maximum incentive of $3,000 per customer
Roaring Fork Valley $1/watt Up to 3kW system ($3,000)
San Miguel Power Association $.75/watt Maximum incentive of $2,250
United Power $0.10/watt For systems installed before 12/31/15. Maximum of $1,000.

A few Colorado towns offer solar incentives. For example, the cities of Aurora and Lakewood will refund 100% of the solar installation permit fee. Yes, it is the city charging the permit fee in the first place, but a refund is a refund!

How do solar rebates work? Similar to getting a rebate card from your local big box store for a dishwasher purchase, state legislatures also provide rebates for solar panel purchases to spur on investment and create new jobs. If you purchase the solar panel system yourself, you qualify for this free cash, which many times is a lump payment back to you. Some solar installers like to take this amount directly off the total installed price, and they'll handle the paperwork for you to make things a lot less complex.

The availability of state and utility rebates were sourced from the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Energy Efficiency. The better the rebates, the higher the grade.

Colorado Solar Power Tax Credits


Grade: F

Colorado's Solar Tax Credits grade

This is where Colorado is missing the mark on solar policy. A solar power tax credit has proven to be a great help to citizens of forward-looking states. But don’t get too down; the US government still offers a sweet, sweet 30% federal tax credit.

About state solar tax credits: State tax credits are not technically free money. However, they are 'credits' and not 'deductions' which means that if you have the tax appetite to take advantage of them, then they can be a 1-to-1 dollar amount off your taxes instead of a fraction of the cost of the system. So that means they can be an important factor to consider. In certain circumstances, state tax credits can provide a very powerful incentive for people to go solar.

(Keep in mind, we are not tax professionals and give no tax advice so please consult a professional before acting on anything we say related to taxes)

The availability of personal tax credits for solar energy were sourced from the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Energy Efficiency. The higher the tax credit amount, the higher the grade.

Solar Power Performance Payments


Grade: C

Colorado's Solar Performance Payments grade

Only one Colorado power company will actually pay you in cash based on energy produced: Xcel Energy. Yes we said Xcel. That means that if you’re one of the millions of people in Denver, Boulder, Littleton, or any other Xcel-served city, in addition to helping fund your installation costs, your utility company will literally pay you cash for every kilowatt-hour of solar energy you produce!

Just be sure not to miss out on the opportunity, Xcel will stop offering these incentives after residential-scale solar production goals have been met, and most of the available program space has already been claimed. If you can get in to the program in 2015, you'll get a payment of $.02/kWh for 20 years, which adds up to about $3,000 total. That's awesome!

For the Xcel program, as of 2015, you'll receive $.02 per kWh your system produces. In Colorado, a 5kW system will churn out roughly 7000kWh annually, so that's about an extra $140 in your pocket!

Explanation of performance payments: Performance payments represent a big chunk of the financial rationale for going solar, and in many instances they make your decision a wise one. For certain states, if you’ve got solar panels on your roof, not only will you be cutting your electric bill down to size, but you'll be getting paid additional cash from your utility company. Pretty awesome, huh? Not only are you generating electricity for yourself, freezing your own popsicles with sun, and feeling like you’re doing something smart for your children or any of the other 4 reasons people go solar, but you are getting PAID!

Utility companies are paying people with solar panels on their roofs because their states say they have to, otherwise they will pay a fee. Therefore, the payment amount to homeowners is typically a little bit less than the amount they would be billed for by the state. For states with these alternative compliance fees, Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC) exchanges have popped up. In the above chart, we outlined an estimate of yearly payments a homeowner might expect from the utility company for the SREC credits from their solar energy system.

Expected SREC payments were calculated by using the latest trade values in the SRECtrade database. The availability of feed-in tariffs were sourced from the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Energy Efficiency. The higher the expected monthly payments, the higher the grade.

If you don’t know what an SREC is, or how they work, check out this great SREC video

Property Tax Exemption


Grade: A

Colorado's Solar Property Tax Exemptions grade

A solar installation adds value to the home it’s installed on. Like, we’re talking thousands of dollars, here. The good news in Colorado is that homeowners who go solar will not pay a single, solitary, Denver-minted penny in taxes on that value. Thanks, Colorado!

About solar property tax exemptions: Property tax exemption status is a pretty big factor when putting together your investment considerations. Many argue that solar power adds approximately 20 times your annual electricity bill savings (if you are owning the system and not leasing. Leasing still has a positive impact on the ability to sell your home though, in our opinion).

For many average-sized solar power systems on a house, that can mean $20,000 to your home value. (Edit April, 2014: Some companies, like Solar Mosaic, are starting to offer traditional style equity-based home loans for such a thing). An additional $20,000 in property tax basis in many states amounts to a big chunk of change owed back to the state. However, many states have complete exemptions from added taxes when you install solar on your home!

The availability of a property tax exemption for solar energy was also sourced from the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Energy Efficiency. The stronger the tax exemption, the higher the grade.

Sales Tax Exemption


Grade: A

Colorado's Solar Sales Tax Exemption grade

When you install a residential solar system in Colorado you are exempt from 100% of related sales and use taxes. Now that’s how we like our renewable energy laws: simple, smart, and saving you money.

What's the deal with solar power sales tax exemptions? When states give you a sales tax break on solar, we notice. You should too. State sales tax exemption status for the purchase of solar energy systems were sourced from the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Energy Efficiency. Sales tax exemptions, if present, were all 100%. A handful of states are completely exempt from sales tax regardless, and therefore received ‘A’ grades by default (OR, DE, MT, AK, and NH).

The consensus on Colorado solar power rebates and incentives

Not that many years ago, Colorado led the way in solar policy. While the state’s policies remain strong, they have not grown much over the last few years. We still rate Colorado an A based on solid solar power rebates and a fantastic net metering law, but to be perfectly honest, we are letting you rest on your laurels a bit here. We’d like to see a few more incentives push that time to payback down to 8 years or less for everyone—not just for people who happen to live in areas with good rebates.

Again, if you are confused about how these numbers work and would like some personalized assistance or a quote of your own, simply connect with our network of solar experts. They’ll help sort out all the pricing, get you access to special deals, and they’re super friendly to boot!

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32 thoughts on “Colorado Solar Power for your house – rebates, tax credits, savings

  1. T says:

    Great site, but I didn’t see any reference to community solar. What incentives are available with that model?

  2. Scott says:

    Do we know what the average PPW is in the Denver area?

  3. Freddie says:

    If you can afford to build a new house and drive a caddy,BMW,Audi or other new high dollar car and you have a handicapped plate, you can afford it so why ask ?

  4. Anonymous says:

    No where to provide info and ask for a quote, whatever!

    1. You should see links on every page for getting free quotes. Please let me know if you still haven’t found it.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Hello, I am a member of the PVREA cooperative in CO. I have a 6kw, and tried to get the rebate $ from them but because my builder didnt jump through the hoops correctly, we did not get our rebate $. I am looking for information on how i can sell my SREC’s. SRECTrade and other brokers do not currently work with CO. So I am stuck broswing around the web and so far I have not gotten anywhere. We are on a net metering, grid connected system. Any info would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

  6. Darrel says:

    The information on the website seems old. I purchased a 10Kw solar array and had it installed in April 2013 and xcel energy definitely did not give me $1,000/kw. THen the statement: The cities of Aurora and Lakewood, for instance, will refund 100% of the solar installation permit fee. Yes, it is the city charging the permit fee in the first place, but a refund is a refund! Do you have guidance on how you get the City of Aurora CO to refund the Solar permit fee? I have called the Buidling permit office where I got the Solar Permit and they are unaware the city is refunding the fee. I called city manager’s office and was asked to send e-mail with website that still reflects Aurora as refunding permit fees. Just trying to get refund, because a refund is a refund.

  7. GeorgiaBoy says:

    Thank you for this. I go to school in Denver, and Colorado has really been a great leader for the Solar industry! Lets get Georgia aboard the Solar Train!!!

  8. Constance says:

    We live in Texas but own 5 acres in the San Luis Valley. How do I find out if any of the companies are interested in placing solar power on our land?

  9. Matt Kayser says:

    I love your site it is the best out there. I work for a solar business in sales for Pure Logic and would love for us to be part of your “trusted installers”. matt kayser 808-489-7810

  10. You could definitely see your enthusiasm in the work you write. The sector hopes for more passionate writers like you who aren’t afraid to mention how they believe. At all times go after your heart.

  11. Lars says:

    I have 4 bids for residential solar lease, but the bids are so different I’m having difficultly comparing apples to apples. is there a guideline out there that could help me compare for the best lease?

  12. Ed says:

    Does anyone know of an example of a homeowner’s association or group of owners in a condo/building that has put in a system for the benifit of the whole building? My understanding of the incentives is that you could still take advantage of them ie federal tax credit etc..

  13. Ross says:

    How many houses have solar panels in Colorado?

  14. Marian says:

    Great information. We are buying property in the San Luis Valley. Would the power company be interested in bartering acreage to put up solar panels in exchange for giving us just the power that we use?

  15. Matt says:

    In the example calculating the costs of solar power in Denver, the example assumes an electric bill of $100/month and that the PV system will cover 77% of the electricity needs. So, simple math would say that your new electric bill will be $23 ($100 – 77%), correct? Then why is stated that the bill is $28.50? Is that a typo, or am I missing a calculation step?



  16. Cynthia Jensen says:

    We have a small rural business that we would like to run on our property in Elbert, CO. We are also planning on running a small farm. We would like to get a grant or some assistance to put in a solar or wind power system. This would be an off grid system or we are open for ideas.

    To have Mountain View Electric to run lines out there it would cost around $20,000, we don’t have that kind of money.

    We need help getting our project off the ground.

    Thank you for your time
    Cynthia Jensen
    Jensen Custom Cuts LLC

  17. J Lynn Springer says:

    Question: Why does it cost $54,000 for a 3 kw before incentives in Columbia, SC and only $31,000 before incentives for a 5kw in Colorado? I live in Dillon, Co & rent for the winter in SC. May go solar this summer in Dillon. Lynn

    1. Hey, J Lynn,

      The simple answer is that the SC page is out of date. When we did that page, it was over a year ago when solar without rebates was a lot more expensive. The price has come down a lot since then. The Colorado page is an updated cost estimate before rebates.

      Please keep in mind that Colorado is a very competitive state for solar. Other states will be more costly due to current lack of competition. But that should be changing around the company as legislators start to “warm up” to solar. Hopefully, soon in SC. :)

  18. Brad says:

    I am a Boulder County CPA with a client who installed solar equipment and was told by the contractor they can take a 30% tax credit for the entire (gross) cost of the project. My read is that the tax credit only applies to the out of pocket cost, net of the rebates. Is anyone else getting these types of contractor quotes, and what are they reporting on their tax returns.

    1. Brad, there’s still some (slight) question about whether you can take the 30% tax credit off the gross or net after rebates. We’ve tackled this question here on this post. Bottom line, if you’re a business, off the gross, but then you have to count the state rebate as income… it might even out to the same thing. If you see any more guidance from the IRS, please drop us a note. We’d love to hear a pro’s perspective and experience.

  19. D. Marsh says:

    We live on a small ranch/farm north of Fort Collins. Our pivot irrigating sprinkler is run by electricity ($1,000 a month when used). Also, we have a 4600 sq ft home that would lend well to solar. What kind of rebates/incentives could we get?

    1. Hey, Deenie,

      Colorado is great for solar right now. Rebates are still relatively strong, plus there’s a lot of competition driving prices down low. I’d bet you’d benefit greatly from going solar, especially if you have a lot of sun and such a high energy bill. First, check out our Colorado page. It has some good info.

      It’s tough to give you a ballpark amount without getting some more information. The Fort Collins, Colorado area is one of the areas where you can get no-haggle bulk pricing through our partners at I would sign up with them and get an estimate through their online calculator. It’s pretty accurate for their program, so long as the numbers and information you input are accurate.

      Hope that helps.

  20. Christof says:

    Great update. Never heard of PACE. Wish I’d heard of it earlier — it’s probably too late for us, under contract with REC Solar for a June 2010 installation. I’ll look into it, though.

  21. Christof says:

    I realize you have the “Updated 1-29-09” header up top. Still, you might want to update your Xcel Rebate figures. Xcel’s rebate is down to $3.50 per watt as of Nov. 3, 2009 — and it’s going to drop to $3.00 per watt soon.

  22. Dan says:

    I am building a 3000 sf house in florrisant Co there is no power grid there what do you think an average cost would be for the project. What kind of system should i go with.

  23. Damon says:

    So someone thinks it smart to give people the choice between a $40K solar system with only the federal incentives, or a few grand to hook up to the power grid and add not only to the power need of the entire system, but expend the resources and man hours required to hook into the grid. Very clever. People choose with their wallets. If you want people to choose a smaller grid, then give them the incentive to do so.

  24. Ben says:

    Lucky wrote: “What rebates or incentives are available for those of us who live off the grid and want to produce solar or wind energy for our home needs?”

    There are no rebates that I’m aware of for non-grid-tied solar/wind systems. The incentive is to help public utilities reduce their need to build more power plants (especially coal-fired), so if you’re off-grid, you’re not assisting the utility in any way.

  25. Jeff says:

    Oddly, I’ve contacted 3 separate solar companies via their websites in Colorado for information and not a single one has returned so much as an email. Work must be good.

  26. Lucky Ford says:

    What rebates or incentives are available for those of us who live off the grid and want to produce solar or wind energy for our home needs?

  27. David Smith says:

    I have just constructed a 320 sq ft flat plate panel system that is providing my home with over 250,000 BTU/day. To receive my federal tax credit, the system must be approved by some official entity. Who is this entity in Colorado?

  28. Jay says:

    If you can afford to build a house in Aspen, where home construction costs are $700 to $1,000 per square foot ( ). You surely do not need a loan or a rebate!

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