SOLAR FOR YOUR HOME OR BUSINESS
WHAT IS SOLAR?
When we say “solar”, we’re referring to photovoltaic (PV) systems that convert sunlight into usable electricity in your home or business.
HOW DOES SOLAR WORK?
Your PV system only generates electricity when the sun is shining, but your home still needs electricity on cloudy days and after the sun goes down. Black Hills Energy and San Isabel Electric customers can sign up for net metering when they install a PV system. Net metering is a billing program that allows customers with solar energy systems to buy and sell electricity to and from their utility. By participating in the net metering program, a customer is able to buy electricity when their solar energy system is not producing enough energy to meet the demand in their home or business, and to sell the excess generation to the grid when they are producing more than needed. If your PV system is the correct size, it can often cover the cost of your electricity use when the sun isn’t shining.
WHAT HAPPENS TO MY BILL?
If you choose to participate in the net metering program, your meter will capture all excess energy generated by your solar system. Black Hills Energy will pay customers for excess energy at a rate of $0.045/kWh generated on systems less than or equal to 30 kW, and $0.075/kWh generated on systems greater than 30 kW. Black Hills Energy reports this on your bill as a Renewable Energy Credit, or REC:
Note: Electricity is only sent back to the grid when your system is generating more than what your home or business is using at the time. If your home or business is using all of the electricity your system is generating, there is nothing to send back to the grid and therefore no credit on your bill.
IS PUEBLO A GOOD PLACE FOR SOLAR?
Pueblo is a fantastic place to put solar on your home or business. To date, more than 1,200 Pueblo County residents have installed PV systems on their homes.
Pueblo has 107% more sun than Berlin, Germany, a world leader in solar, and 99% as much solar as Yuma, AZ, the sunniest city in the United States. It is estimated that 33,000 buildings in Pueblo are suitable for solar, with an energy generation potential of 463,400 MWh. This would be enough to run all of Pueblo County on renewable energy!
ARE THERE INCENTIVES FOR GOING SOLAR?
In addition to net metering benefits, you will qualify for:
- Federal tax credits. The solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) reduces the cost of your solar panel system by 30 percent. Note: the ITC applies only to those who buy their PV system outright (either with a cash purchase or solar loan), and you must have enough income for the tax credit to have an economic impact.
- Net metering. When enrolled in Black Hills Energy’s Production Based Incentive program (PBI), PV owners receive $0.045 for every excess kWh generated on systems less than or equal to 30 kW, and $0.075 for every excess kWh generated on systems greater than 30 kW.
- Colorado sales and use tax exemption. Components used in the production of electricity from a renewable energy source, are exempt from state sales and use tax.
- Property tax exemption. Renewable energy personal property that is located on a residential classified property, owned by the residential property owner, and produces energy that is used by the residential property, is exempt from Colorado property taxation.
STEPS FOR GOING SOLAR
- Make your home or business as efficient as possible. This can include upgrading appliances, adding insulation, installing windows, and/or replacing your heating and hot water systems. Get a residential or commercial energy audit to understand which upgrades will save you the most money. You do not want to pay more than is necessary for your PV system, so make sure you maximize household energy efficiency first.
- Investigate your solar potential. Explore tools like Project Sunroof or PV Watts to understand your property’s potential to benefit from a PV system.
- Find an installer. Get a quote from at least three different installers, and take the time to ask them questions. Ask around the community for those that have had a good experience with local solar installers. To speak with a solar homeowner, considering contacting Pueblo’s Renewable Energy Owner’s Coalition of America (REOCA).Your contractor will help with a site assessment, recommend system sizing, and walk you through all the paperwork needed.
Choose your financing. There are three common ways to finance a PV system:
- Lease/Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). Instant savings, zero down. You will make monthly payments to a solar leasing company who owns and maintains your system. You will have small upfront costs and you may have the option to purchase your system outright in the future.
- Loan. Own your system, pay over time. A loan is a great way to take advantage of the incentives and long-term savings of a solar system without providing all of the cash up front. Every month, you will make payments to re-pay your loan principal and interest.
- Buy. Pay up front, largest lifetime savings. You pay the full cost up front and own the solar system without any additional payments over time. As the outright owner, you may claim any local, state, or federal incentives.
- Obtain a permit from Pueblo Regional Building Department (PRBD). Use PRBD’s solar permitting checklist and obtain necessary forms on their website.
- Ensure that you have a net metering agreement with your utility (if desired). Residential solar systems often generate more electricity than your home uses during daylight hours, so you’ll need a net-metering account with your utility. Most installers will help you with through this application. Click here to learn more about the Black Hills Energy net metering program.
- Pocket your monthly energy bill savings!
PUEBLO SOLAR AWARDS
In the spring of 2018, Pueblo County was awarded the SolSmart Bronze award, which recognized our community for taking bold steps to make it faster, easier, and cheaper to go solar. Pueblo County is “open for solar business”, and wants business, solar companies, and residents to know that Pueblo County is a great place to go solar. The City of Pueblo also received a SolSmart Bronze award in April of 2018.
View Pueblo County’s SolSmart profile online by clicking the icon below:
SOLAR TOOLS AND RESOURCES
BLACK HILLS ENERGY SOLAR
Information for Black Hills Energy customers about the On-Site Solar Incentive Program, and the Community Solar Garden Program. The website details the requirements and incentives for placing solar on a home or commercial structure, and allows residents to sign up for subscriptions to community solar gardens.
SAN ISABEL ELECTRIC ASSOCIATION SOLAR
Contact San Isabel Electric’s Energy Services department to get the facts before going solar. See their “10 Steps to Take Before Installing Solar” and “Questions to Ask a Solar Contractor”.
GOOGLE’S PROJECT SUNROOF
An online tool for assessing solar potential on your rooftop. The tool uses Google Earth imagery to analyze your roof shape and local weather patterns to create a personalized solar plan for your property. It also allows you to compare loan, lease, and purchase options for your solar panels based on your results.
A product of the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), PV Watts estimates the energy production and cost of energy of grid-connected photovoltaic (PV) energy systems throughout the world. It allows homeowners, small building owners, installers and manufacturers to easily develop estimates of the performance of potential PV installations.
LET’S GO SOLAR
Consumer friendly resources about “going solar”. The website offers step-by-step solar instructions, charts, checklists, quizzes, state-specific scenarios, and advice from long-time industry experts.
COLORADO SOLAR ENERGY INDUSTRIES ASSOCIATION (COSEIA)
The Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association provides opportunities for learning more about Colorado’s solar policy, provides education/outreach opportunities, and allows for Colorado’s solar businesses to have a voice in our state’s future.
SOLAR ENERGY INDUSTRIES ASSOCIATION CONSUMER PROTECTION (SEIA)
Consumer resources for going solar, and an avenue for consumers to report complaints in violation of SEIA Solar Business Code. If you have concerns or want to know more about your rights as a consumer, start with SEIA’s Consumer Protection/Complaint Resolution portal. Also, check out their Residential Consumer Guide to Solar Power.
DATABASE OF STATE INCENTIVES FOR RENEWABLE & EFFICIENCY (DSIRE)
The go-to resource for up-to-date renewable energy and energy efficiency policies and incentives. Simply type your zip code or search by state to explore which policies and or incentives are most applicable to you.
SOLAR FINANCE SIMULATOR
The Solar Finance Simulator is an online tool for universities, hospitals, municipalities, nonprofits, and businesses to simulate long-term financial forecasting for four types of solar investments. Using their own values, users can simulate and compare financial projections for direct ownership, power purchase agreements (PPA), debt financing, and operating leases. It works for both taxable and tax-exempt entities. The tool can be used to guide or validate potential projects, compare proposals, or simply help users become more familiar with financing structures and common transaction costs. The Midwest Renewable Energy Association offers online and in-person training on this tool and others.
A tool that estimates technical specifications for solar and battery systems. The online tool allows building owners and city departments to do an initial screen on buildings, developing a portfolio of options before embarking on more detailed studies. It allows users to develop a quick and low-cost way to create a holistic energy security strategy for a city or county.
COMMUNITY SOLAR BUSINESS CASE TOOL
Working with Elevate Energy and West Monroe Partners, Cook County (Chicago) developed a spreadsheet tool for evaluating the costs and benefits of a community solar project. The Community Solar Business Case Tool is a flexible financial model that uses the panel purchase or panel lease price as a basis for project economics. It calculates costs, performance, and benefits, and provides a basic “breakeven” price for purchased or leased systems from the perspective of both the customer and the system developer. Users can change all key inputs to tailor the analysis to their situation.