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Colorado Solar Power Facts in 2022

Colorado Solar Program

The Centennial State is renowned for its 300 sunny days a year. Although in reality, there are fewer sunny days, the Colorado skies are clear enough to make any investment into solar easy to pay off. A number of federal and state incentives, net metering policy, and PPA agreements make going solar in Colorado easier than ever. 

The 43% drop in solar cost over the past 5 years and the 80% drop in the last ten years have made home solar power cheaper than ever. In the same period, CO has experienced significant growth in solar capacity as the number of solar panels installed rose. Currently, the Centennial state ranks 14th in the USA, so there is plenty of room to grow, especially in residential solar installations

Colorado was one of the first US states to have a Renewable Energy Standard. The state now offers programs for rooftop solar, utility-scale solar as well as programs for those who would fit in between these two. That is the community solar. With 6,771 solar jobs in the state, solar is going strong and so is clean energy production, as it accounts for 4.12% of total electricity generated in the state. 

Colorado Solar Energy Data

The Colorado Solar Energy sector is set to grow in the upcoming years. With over 6.700 solar jobs, this state can only grow in terms of solar energy system power. Currently ranked 14th in the USA, the state of Colorado has installed over 1,700MW of solar power. This is enough to supply clean energy to over 340,000 homes or to satisfy around 4.12% of Colorado electricity used. 

Needless to say, Colorado solar industry is a large employer. With over 350 companies, it offers a variety to choose from when deciding on your next solar installer company. Solar companies also include 34 solar manufacturers, 173 Solar Installers, and 147 other companies working in the industry. 

With a plethora of options to choose from, you can decide to go solar by purchasing a solar system, by leasing it or by signing a PPA contract with your local solar company. Whatever model you choose, there are benefits for you and your Colorado household. 

Going solar can help you save at least 80% of your electricity bills. Although the initial investment may seem high, the solar payback time in Colorado can be as short as nine years and the out-of-pocket cost does not include state incentives and solar incentives, which can bring down the total solar cost by nearly a third. 

With around $4.3 Billion installed in solar systems, Colorado can boast over 80,000 solar installations. Together, they make up a great role model for the rest of the state: what an energy-independent state and household should look like. Installing residential solar never made more sense than it does now, and to reap full benefits, act quickly: many states are withdrawing their tax incentive programs. 

Colorado Solar Statistics

DescriptionStatus
Colorado National Ranking14th
Solar Installed(MW)1,755.9 MW
Can Supply Power to: (No. of Homes)+340,000
% of State's Electricity from Solar4.12%
Solar Companies in the State354 Solar Companies (34 Manufacturers, 173 Installers and Developers, and 147 Others)
Solar Jobs Created6,771
Total Solar Investment in the State$4.3 Billion
Out of Pocket Cost for a 5kWh system$13,515-$18,285
Net 20-year savings$17,000-$23,000
Average Payback Period9-12 years
Electricity Bill Offset for a 5kWh system+80%
Number of Solar Installations+81,000

Notable Solar Installations in Colorado

The majority of the 81,000 solar installations in Colorado are rooftop solar systems. There are large-scale companies with utility solar farms on the market as well. 

  • One of the biggest such projects is the Comanche Solar. This renewable energy system was finished in 2016 and uses solar panel installation to deliver 120MW of electricity – just enough to power 24,000 Colorado households. 
  • Hooper Solar Project is another large solar farm. It uses PV solar installations to generate 50MW of solar power and it can bring renewable energy to 10,000 CO homes. This project is situated in San Luis Valley and it is among the largest solar installations in Colorado. 
  • Alamosa Photovoltaic Power Plant which was completed in 2007 has around 7.7MW of solar panel installation in site.
  • There are more than a dozen other solar utility companies operating solar farms between 5 and 5MW in Colorado. 

Is it Worth it to Buy Solar Panels in Colorado?

Yes, installing solar panels in Colorado is worth it. The state has significant solar incentives in place which reduce the total solar panel’s cost of a solar installation by almost a third. Furthermore, the net metering system makes sure that every kWh of solar power you make is a kWh you spend. 

Many households decide to install solar with a solar battery storage system. This means that these households can go completely off the grid and not depend on the utility company for power supply. Although solar panels cost more money than traditional solar systems without solar battery storage, the peace of mind of knowing that you will not receive another electric bill is irreplaceable. 

With or without a storage system, the solar panel installation removes a minimum of 80% of an average Colorado utility bill, for a 5kW system. If your house is larger, or your energy needs higher, you can always opt for a larger system. Although this system will cost more initially, the solar payoff period may stay the same, as you may even be able to sell the excess electricity to the utility company and make some extra cash on the side. 

If you still think that solar installation does not pay off, there are other options you can choose. A solar lease is a model that suits most families. The solar panels do not belong to you, but neither do the regular system check-ups and maintenance. Alternatively, you can also go for a PPA agreement, which is a modified version of a solar lease program

Average Cost of Solar Energy Systems

The average cost for a home solar energy system was never lower. For a 5kWh solar system, you should expect to pay around $13,500 to 18,300. This is enough solar power to cover most of your needs. However, you can also choose to go for a smaller or a bigger solar power system, depending on your solar installation needs and the money you would like to invest. How many solar panels you need depends on your energy needs and how much energy your solar technology can produce.

There are various factors that can influence the price of your system. Besides your energy needs, there are also the issues of the orientation of your house and any shading on your property. A nearby tree or another house quite close to yours may cost you precious kWh produced. Always contact a solar advisor and have a professional assess your solar needs. 

Depending on your system size and system production, your home energy may not depend on electricity rates anymore. All your excess energy can be sold to your utility company, bringing down installation costs and offering one more stream of financing options. Your independent home solar is an investment that is sure to return many times over.

Solar Panel Energy Production in Colorado

Solar Panel systems beginning is humble in any state. Back in 2007, Colorado had around 14.6 MW of solar Photovoltaics installed. Ten years later, in 2017, that number rose to 1,019 MW of solar panels. In 2021, the total electricity these solar panels can produce rose to 1,755.9 MW and will keep rising as more Colorado homeowners understand the benefits of solar. 

Installing home solar will demand a high upfront payment due to the cost of solar panels. However, with rising energy costs and solar savings, the home solar average cost seems better year after year. Your solar modules will be able to generate more electricity than you can spend, effectively driving down your energy costs, making you resilient against power outages, and will enable you to save money while reducing your carbon emissions.

Colorado Solar Incentives, Rebates, and Tax Credits

There are several ways to reduce your panels cost in Colorado. In Colorado, you can apply for both Federal Solar Incentives and local Solar Incentives. Doing so will save you a significant amount of money and offset your upfront cost by around 30%. Going solar never sounded better. 

The first Solar Incentive is the Federal Solar Tax Credits. You can get these credits up to the 26% of our solar panel system worth. Another way to put it is that you will get $260 for every $1,000 you spend on your residential solar panels. The federal solar tax credit (or investment tax credit (itc))rate will stay the same in 2022. In 2023, it will drop to 22%, and in 2024, to 10%. 

The Credit is deducted from your Federal Taxes owed. In case you pay taxes by withholding them from your paycheck, you can get a tax return for this amount. Make sure to check your solar loan programs with your local bank, since you may be able to get a special deal if you direct the solar tax return to them. 

In case you owe less in taxes than the tax credit, worry not. In this case, you would owe $0.00 for taxes for as long as you have federal tax credit remaining. You can roll over your investment tax credit (itc) for up to ten years. 

There are also state solar incentives. Purchasing a solar panel system in Colorado is sales tax exempt. This means that you will be able to save anywhere between $2.9 to $8.3 for every 100 dollars you spend on a solar installation, depending on the area and the city you live in. 

Colorado property taxation bodies made sure that you do not have to pay extra property tax because of the value the solar panels would add to your household. This Solar Property Tax Exemption means that the property taxes you pay after installing a solar panel system remain calculated on the value of your house with no solar arrays. 

Colorado also offers an advanced form of net metering. For every kWh you produce but do not spend, you are eligible to receive up to 120% of renewable energy credit, depending on your utility and whether they are regulated or not. You can then choose whether you want to get reimbursed for excess electricity or to roll over the energy credits to the next month. Combining net metering with the federal tax credit is the best way to speed up the payback period.

DescriptionEquivalent Cost
The Cost of a 10kWh solar PV system in Colorado @3.13$31,300
The Federal Solar Tax Credit @26%$8,108
Sales Tax Exemption 2.9-8.3% @average5.6% $1,752.8
Solar Property Tax Exemption N/A
Total Energy Bill Savings @100% electric bill offset$936.12
Total cost for a 10kWh solar system at the end of year 1$20,503
Years before a 10kWh system pays off if all of Colorado solar incentives are taken 9-12 years

Top Solar Companies in Colorado

With 173 solar installers and developers in Colorado, it can be difficult to choose the best among them. To save your time and effort, you can refer to the top 10 solar energy system installers in Colorado: 

  1. Southard Solar & Construction, in Denver, 
  2. Sandbox Solar, in Fort Collins, 
  3. Ecology Solar, in Denver, 
  4. ARE Solar, in Denver, 
  5. Smart Wave Solar, operates multi-state, 
  6. Sunlight Solar Energy, in Colorado Springs, 
  7. Solar Side Up, operates in Denver, 
  8. Photon Brothers, works in Westminster, 
  9. Active Energies Solar, LLC, in Avon, 
  10. Leadville Solar, in Leadville. 

FAQs

What is the best solar panel on the market today?

Sun Power, Canadian Solar, Trina Solar, Panasonic, and LG are considered the best solar panels on the market. When buying your solar panels, make sure you also check out their specs and not just the brand. Work with an experienced solar advisor to make sure you have a good idea of what solar system size you need. 

Sometimes, it may pay off more to install solar panels that may not be a brand name but will produce enough electricity for your household. On the other hand, other technicalities, such as the type of the solar panel (monocrystalline or polycrystalline) as well as multilayer solar panels may perform better. 

What is the buy back rate for solar power?

The buy-back rate for solar power may differ from one Colorado area to another. While it is certain that you will be paid for the excess electricity you produce, it is also certain that you will be paid a little less on average than the retail price you would normally pay for a kWh consumed. 

The solar buyback rate in Colorado for households is similar and sometimes even the same as the buyback rate for utility-scale solar operations. This rate is reduced because there are many costs associated with the supply of brown and renewable energy, not just its production. The costs of the equipment and its maintenance, the power lines, and grid operators are all essential in electricity delivery and have their own associated costs 

Is the solar tax credit a one time credit?

Yes, the Federal Solar Tax Credit is a one-time credit. However, if you do not owe enough in Federal Taxes to fully utilize the tax credit, you can roll over your remaining federal credit to the following year. You can do this for a period of up to 10 years. 

Do solar panels melt the snow?

Yes, solar panels melt snow. To melt the snow, solar panels do not use any of the electricity that is generated by the panels. Quite on contrary, it is their dark color that makes them absorb sunlight better and turn it into heat. The heat then melts the snow on your solar panels and exposes them to sunlight again, so they can go back to generating free energy for you. Adding solar panels to your rooftop pays off even in the wintertime.

Conclusion

This is probably the best time to go solar in Colorado. Great incentives and solar tax exemption are as good as they can be and you will be able to save a lot of money on your electricity bill. The Centennial state can boast over 80,000 solar installations and the majority of these are residential solar power systems.

The cost of solar panels in home solar will also enable you to more closely follow your energy usage and will take you a step closer to energy independence. Colorado residents can enjoy the benefits of their net metering credits and various financial incentives. Unfortunately, many local rebates are not available anymore, but the federal government is more than willing to compensate a part of your expenses to the degree that other solar companies cannot.

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