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Is solar energy a good choice for your

By Chris Michlewicz

Colorado’s 300 days of sunshine a year are not only great for outdoor activities, they are welcomed by homeowners who have solar panels on their roof.

By the end of 2019, more than 2,900 customers of the Intermountain Rural Electric Association (IREA) had rooftop solar systems interconnected to its grid, generating more than 17 megawatts of power. Once a cost-prohibitive venture, the expense of installing panels has gone down, partly due to a federal tax credit that was introduced in 2006 to incentivize the use of solar power.

Leigh Houston, a resident of Castle Pines for 12 years, had solar panels installed on her roof in May 2019 and said her family has saved approximately $120 a month since.

“We only had one month where we used any power from the grid during the day and that was February because snow covered the panels for most of the month,” she said.

Houston said she acted last year because of planned changes to the solar tax credit. Before January 1, 2020, homeowners could claim 30 percent of the installation cost as deductions while filing their taxes. The number dropped to 26 percent at the beginning of this year.

Houston contracted for her panel installation and said, “There was nothing to do on our end other than contact our home insurance to say we were adding solar panels.” The upfront cost the Houston’s paid for installation was about $14,000 and will take 9-10 years to pay off at the current rate, but Houston said she’s not planning on moving anytime soon.

There are a few things to consider when deciding whether to install solar panels. The size and orientation of your roof, as well as your energy needs, should be assessed.

Dan Radetsky, a 17-year resident of Castle Pines, was scheduled to get solar panels in September only to find out on the day of installation that his shingles were too old and not the proper type for affixing solar panels.

Another Castle Pines resident who spoke to The Castle Pines Connection encouraged homeowners to follow all rules and guidelines. The resident received a letter from their HOA warning that their panels were in violation of its rules and would need to be removed within 15 days. Paperwork showing that the resident followed the proper steps helped prevent further legal action. Additionally, Colorado state laws limit restrictions and supersede HOAs rules pertaining to solar panels.

IREA recommends customers contact its engineering services department before signing any agreement to purchase or lease a rooftop solar system. IREA provides those considering solar power with an information packet it calls “essential reading.” For more information or to request a packet, call 303-688-3100.



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