Interest in solar photovoltaic installations is booming in our area with a record number of new systems installed last year. But with this interest, comes some dubious business practices from untrustworthy businesses and installers.
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.
Get at least three quotes from different installers before selecting one.
Claim #1: 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 #2: 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 #3: 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 if your generation changes due to cloudy weather, your bill from LPEA may increase.
Claim #4: LPEA’s rates will continue to increase an average of 6% annually.
This is false. LPEA’s 2020 rate increase was the first such increase in four years, and there will be no rate increase in 2021. LPEA's efforts to diversify our power supply in the future is expected to stabilize rates into the future.
Claim #5: 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 lpea.coop/site-net-metering-program