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WHAT ACCREDITATIONS SHOULD I LOOK FOR IN MY SOLAR PROFESSIONAL?
No industry is perfect, but organizations like the Colorado Solar and Storage Association can give consumers confidence when choosing a solar professional. Our Members are vetted through an application and adhere to industry best practices and code of ethics. We have strict policies for dealing with ethics issues. You may also see that an installer is “NABCEP Certified”. NABCEP is the solar industry’s ‘gold standard’ of certification. NABCEP certified practitioners have met minimum levels of education and experience, passed a rigorous competency exam, and abide by a strict code of ethics.
Hiring COSSA Members Gives You Peace of Mind
- Membership indicates professionalism and credibility.
- Members are required to sign and adhere to a Code of Ethics.
- Members are in the know and better able to serve you with regular updates and insights on market conditions, upcoming policy changes, and technical and code changes.
- Affiliation is easily verifiable online with our Online Member Directory.
- Hire a member and hire a leader in the industry.
HOW MUCH DOES A SOLAR OR ENERGY STORAGE SYSTEM COST?
Every rooftop is different, and solar installers in your area can provide the best information on what it will cost to go solar for your home or business. Once potential solar or storage customers begin exploring their options, they often find that the total up-front cost is less relevant than the financing terms, return-on-investment, and cash flow calculation. Solar leases and other innovative financing models mean that many people can go solar for little or no money down. Some solar customers save more on their electricity payments than they’re paying for their panels, meaning that their investment is cash-flow positive from day one. Other customers find long-term value in solar and storage for increased resilience against grid outages or as a hedge against future rate increases.
Several factors influence the cost of solar and storage for your home or business, including:
- Your available, unshaded roof space. In the U.S., roofs facing south receive the most sunlight.
- The current energy usage in your home or business. Your current energy costs will affect how quickly you recoup your solar investment. Also, the more energy you use, the larger system you’ll need to fully offset your energy use. Many solar and storage installers can also help you install energy efficiency improvements.
- The utility net metering policy in your area. Net energy metering affects the value of the energy your PV system feeds back into the electricity grid.
- The federal investment tax credit for solar, and any other tax credits, rebates or other state & local incentives for solar energy.
COSSA strongly recommends that every consumer looking to purchase solar and/or storage solicit bids from three separate installers.
WHAT’S A SOLAR LEASE OR SOLAR POWER-PURCHASE AGREEMENT?
In a solar lease or solar power-purchase agreement (also known as a “PPA”), a customer pays for the solar power system over a period of years, rather than in an up-front payment. Often customers can purchase solar for little or no money down, and often realize energy savings immediately. In a power-purchase agreement, a customer agrees to purchase all the energy from a solar system over a fixed period of time.
Third-party financing of solar energy primarily occurs through two models: power purchase agreements (PPAs) and solar leases.
In the PPA model, an installer/developer builds a solar energy system on a customer’s property at no cost. The solar energy system offsets the customer’s electric utility bill, and the developer sells the power generated to the customer at a fixed rate, typically lower than the local utility. At the end of the PPA contract term, property owners can extend the contract and even buy the solar energy system from the developer.
In the lease model, a customer will sign a contract with an installer/developer and pay for the solar energy system over a period of years or decades, rather than paying for the power produced. Solar leases can be structured so customers pay no up-front costs, some of the system cost, or purchase the system before the end of the lease term. Similar leasing structures are commonly used in many other industries, including automobiles and office equipment.
WHAT INCENTIVES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SOLAR ENERGY OR ENERGY STORAGE IN COLORADO?
The Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is a 30% federal tax credit for solar installations on both residential and commercial properties, reducing the tax liability for individuals or businesses that purchase qualifying solar energy technologies. Energy storage systems directly coupled to a solar system are also eligible for the ITC.
The ITC will decline to 26% in 2020 and 22% in 2021. More on the ITC here.
In addition to the federal ITC, Colorado has some localized incentives depending on your municipality and utility. Your installer will be able to provide the most up-to-date information on solar and storage incentives in your area.