How to Go Solar
Does Solar Work for Me?
With more than 300 days of sunshine a year, Boulder is an excellent location for solar. There are many options to choose from - whether solar photovoltaics or solar thermal works best for you depends on whether you own your building, the surrounding shade, the roof type, and other factors. If you choose to invest in a community solar garden, you can still reap the benefits of solar without installing it on your roof. There are resources available to guide you, like the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Solar Consumer Guide or LetsGoSolar.com.
There are a several ways to become part of the solar revolution. You can:
- Purchase a roof top or ground-mounted system (Good for residents open to purchasing and owning solar panels)
- Purchase shares in a solar garden (Good for shaded roofs, renters, condominium and apartment residents)
- Lease solar panels with little to no money down and no maintenance (Good for people who don’t have a large down payment or don’t want to own the array)
Make sure to talk to a contractor and find out which is the best option for you!
Steps to Solar
If you're thinking about getting your electricity from the sun, there are a few steps you should take along the way.
Be Efficient First
If you are interested in solar, first look for ways to increase your current energy efficiency. The more efficient you are, the less energy you'll need to generate with solar panels. The EnergySmart program provides residents and businesses with information and rebates.
Explore Your Solar Potential
Google's rooftop solar tool can help you: determine how much electricity you can produce on your rooftop; estimate system cost and payback time; and connect with solar contractors and financial rebates and incentives.
Find a Solar Contractor
There are many qualified local contractors. The Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association (COSEIA) offers a Member Directory. Qualified contractors can help you make decisions about the size of a solar system, whether to lease or buy, and how to obtain permits and funding.
Apply for a Permit
All solar installations are required to obtain an electrical permit (for photovoltaics) or a mechanical permit (for solar thermal). With a properly prepared application, small, roof-mounted solar systems (<10 kW) are typically eligible for over-the-counter processing and issuance. Use the checklist to see if your system may qualify. Please visit the Planning & Development Services Service Center to discuss your proposed installation with a Project Specialist. They are able to assist you and identify any items of concern and that your application package is complete.
- Permit Submittal Checklist
- Permit application process map
- FAQs on the permit process
- Inspection Questions
- Xcel Energy's interconnection procedures for residents and businesses
Frequent and established solar installers may present a letter bearing the seal and signature of a Colorado licensed engineer confirming that the installation will comply with all standard engineering calculations based on the community's wind and snow loads.
In most cases, solar systems equal to or less than 10kW only require final inspections.
Funding and Financing Options
There are a number of options for funding or financing your investment in local solar.
- Solar Grant Program : Residents in affordable housing and nonprofits may be eligible to receive a solar grant to install rooftop solar systems.
- Solar Rebate Program : Residents and businesses that pay city sales tax when they install solar systems may be eligible for partial sales tax rebates.
- EnergySmart and Elevations Credit Union have partnered to provide Energy Loans for homes and businesses pursuing energy efficiency upgrades and solar photovoltaics.
- Solar*Rewards Program: Xcel Energy’s Solar*Rewards program offers payments for renewable energy credits (RECs) for solar production.
- Solar*Rewards Community Program: Xcel Energy’s Solar*Rewards Community program allows developers to create solar gardens that customers can buy into.
- The Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) lists solar incentives and regulations throughout Colorado.
- Low-income residents may qualify for assistance from GRID Alternatives , a nonprofit solar installer.