Colorado Solar Demystified

Tom Doyle
CRES Boulder County Chapter

“Should I buy solar panels now or wait until the price comes down?”

“Is my house oriented in the right direction for solar panels?”

“Should I buy, lease, or find some other financial vehicle to become part of the solar movement?”

The CRES Boulder County Chapter in conjunction with Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association (COSEIA) hosted “Colorado Solar Demystified” on July 14th. We brought several solar vendors representing different approaches to residential solar such as leasing, buying, community solar, and even incorporating electric cars into the mix. Clean Energy Collective, Custom Solar, Ecology Solar, GRID Alternatives, RGS Energy and Solar Mart helped explain the benefits to the individual electricity user and our environment with solar.

The attendees were able to see solar panels imaged onto their rooftops by using a Google satellite view of their home. From here, they could get an estimate on the amount of electricity they could produce, the cost of the panels, and the estimated amount of time it would take for the solar system to pay for itself. Attendees also learned about solar gardens where the solar panels they purchase are physically located in a centralized location where they can be optimally placed and maintained for the greatest amount of electricity production. Solar myths were debunked and models showing the actual mounts used to attach solar panels to residential and commercial roofs were available to handle.

Rebecca Cantwell, Executive Director of COSEIA, provided a brief overview of Colorado and federal solar legislation and how critical it is to the continued growth of clean energy and protecting our precious environment in Colorado. Specifically, Rebecca shared with the audience the importance of continuing the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) beyond 2016 which is when it is set to expire. The ITC provides a 30% tax credit for residential and commercial properties which dramatically help the home or business owner recoup their investment in solar. If the federal government does not act, the ITC will expire at the end of 2016 and the advancements in solar installations will most likely slow dramatically.

Overall, attendees were pleased with the event and found the information from the vendors helpful in guiding through the many different solar options. Based on the positive response, we are looking at sponsoring this event again and brining in even more vendors in a larger venue. We might even formalized quick presentations form each vendor during the event and augment it with the one-on-one conversations with attendees at the booths. The brief overview of Colorado and federal solar legislation was well received and attendees want more of this type of information. We will consider either a separate venue for sharing this type of information or taking more time during the event to share. We are looking forward to continuing to demystify the solar market and help consumers grow with the clean energy movement.