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Over the past few months, we have seen a huge uptick in the amount of false and predatory solar advertising, specifically targeting LPEA members. This extends beyond just online advertising into direct emails, cold calling campaigns, and even home visits. 

Now, with the passing of the Inflation Reduction Act, we anticipate these solar scams will increase. Stay vigilant! If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

This article debunks some of the claims circulating out there. Remember, before you consider a solar installation on your home or business, ALWAYS:

  • Call LPEA. Each installation is different, and there are often challenges or obstacles that must be overcome before you can install a system that connects to LPEA’s grid. Our experts can walk you through the options.

  • Check LPEA's list of Qualified Solar Installers. Accountability matters! Local solar installers are familiar with LPEA’s standards and are far more likely to fix issues quickly. When there is a problem, you’re more likely to get quick service from the same people who installed your system. Pro-Tip: try calling the company you’re interested in and see how long it takes for a human to help you. 

  • Get at least three quotes from different installers before selecting one.

Claim #1: The bigger the system, the better

LPEA strongly encourages members to properly size their solar PV systems to ensure the best return on their investment and to have the best impact on the cooperative’s grid. “Right sizing” means sizing your PV system to provide right around 100% of your annual usage. 

Through Net Metering, LPEA will credit you at full retail credit for every kilowatt-hour (kWh) your solar system produces that you consume in a year. For any excess generation, LPEA will pay you a wholesale rate for any kWh hours left in your solar bank at the end of the year. That means the compensation you receive for excess generation is less than one-third the value you would receive for energy consumed with a right-sized system. 

This means that it is not worth it to you to oversize your system – you won’t “make money” on it – as you’re paid out for much less than it’s worth to use it. Make sure to ask your solar installer if they are factoring in these rate differences when they calculate the payback period you should expect. 

Claim #2: Colorado offers incentives for solar installations.

There are currently no state-wide incentives for solar. See energyoffice.colorado.gov/climate-energy/renewable-energy/solar for the latest information. There is, however, a 26% Federal Tax Credit for individuals that qualify. Speak with your tax accountant for more details.

Claim #3: LPEA offers incentives for solar installations because we can buy the power back from you cheaper than we could produce it ourselves.

LPEA could self-generate solar energy for a fraction of the cost of a new net metered installation, but we have restrictions based on our current contract with our power provider, Tri-State, that limit the amount we can self-generate. LPEA credits a net metered member on the General Service Rate, 12.5 cents per kWh. When LPEA installs large-scale solar, we will do so at approximately 3 cents per kWh.

LPEA currently credits net metered installations at such a high rate partly because it is required by Colorado law and partly because we want to encourage rooftop solar installations since we have no other options currently to develop solar in our service area. That said, LPEA will soon have the ability to develop our own, lower-cost, solar and other carbon-free resources. At that time, the credit for net metering could be reduced.

Claim #4: Solar installation will eliminate your power bill.

Solar can reduce or eliminate the energy charge on a bill through net metering (if sized correctly), but there will still be a base charge, peak power charges, and taxes and fees levied by LPEA. Also, it's important to remember that the sun is not guaranteed. If your usage changes or your generation changes due to cloudy weather, your bill from LPEA may increase.

Claim #5: LPEA’s rates will continue to increase by an average of 6% annually.

This is false. LPEA’s 2020 rate increase was the first such increase in four years, and there has been no rate increase since. LPEA's efforts to diversify our power supply in the future are expected to stabilize rates into the future.

Claim #6: Free solar!

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. When a company promises free solar installations, be cautious and ask a lot of questions. It usually means no money down, and you pay either a loan or a lease payment. In these instances, you usually pay more over the lifetime of the system than if you just purchase it outright upfront. It can also mean sometimes that you don't actually own your system.

When in doubt, remember to call us before you invest. For more information on LPEA’s Net Metering Program, visit https://lpea.coop/member-solar