Solar Benefits Colorado Program FAQ

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1 Solar Benefits Colorado Program FAQ Program Questions What is Solar Benefits Colorado? The Solar Benefits Colorado program is an effort of the City and County of Denver, along with several neighboring communities, that pools the buying power of participants to make evaluating solar for your home simple and affordable. The program encourages the adoption of solar energy systems and the development of the solar installation market in the Denver / Boulder metropolitan area and along the Front Range from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs, while helping participants save money and green their homes. Who is eligible to participate? The program is open to employees and retirees of the City and County of Denver, Adams County, Boulder County, the City of Aurora, the City of Westminster, the State of Colorado, and the Federal Government. In addition, the program is also open to participants of Boulder Energy Smart as well as the Denver Energy Challenge. Where does the program provide service? While the primary focus of the program is on the Denver / Boulder metro area, the program can provide service within the shaded area on the adjacent map. Outside this area, service may be available, and an additional $1750 travel adder would apply. Extremely remote and / or difficult locations may incur additional travel cost, or may not be serviceable. Please contact the program staff for more information on out of service area locations. How does the program work? Through this program, participants have access to an exclusive discount for home solar electric installations. Please visit the Solar Benefits Colorado webpage and register for a no cost / obligation free solar consultation. The contractor selected for the program, REC Solar, will contact you to discuss the best option for your home based on your electrical usage and roof orientation / available space. REC will then provide a proposal that includes multiple financing options for you to consider that include the program discount. How long do I have to sign up? Program registration is open until October 31 st. However, the discount remains the same during the entire program timeframe, so there s no additional benefit to waiting. The earlier you get started, the sooner REC Solar can install your system and help you save on your utility bills. Who is REC Solar? An evaluation committee consisting of employee representatives from the participating their individual and personal capacities. While the Solar Benefits program is being offered to the employees / members of 1

2 communities selected REC Solar as the solar contractor for this program through a competitive bid process. Founded in 1997, REC Solar is one of the most experienced solar electric system providers in the U.S. REC has built more than 10,000 systems ranging in size from individual residences to multi-megawatt utility projects. With a focus on quality, professionalism and service, REC Solar has become a trusted market leader. REC Solar is committed to providing participants with quality systems and service for the life of the systems. If I sign up for a no-cost solar consultation, is there any obligation to purchase or install? No. During the no-cost home solar consultation with REC Solar a representative will evaluate your home s suitability for solar and explain your options. There s no commitment to purchase or lease a solar system. What are the benefits of installing solar through this program vs. working with the vendor on my own? Solar Benefits is pooling the collective buying power of the group to provide you with a prenegotiated discount that is over 20% off the current average installation cost in the Colorado market. An evaluation committee composed of employee volunteers vetted the quality of products, warranties, customer service, experience and longevity of multiple solar firms, along with proposed system pricing. You can be sure that we have done a lot of the back-end work for you to make this process simple and cost effective. Home Solar Questions Why go Solar? Solar power is the conversion of sunlight into electricity through the photovoltaic effect and is one of the fastest growing forms of residential renewable energy used in the U.S. This program offer not only includes discounted equipment and financing options, but will also help you take advantage of federal and state incentives that can make solar power an affordable clean energy solution. How does a Solar Electric system work? A solar electric system is also called a photovoltaic array or PV system (Photo = light and Voltaic = energy). Solar PV panels made of semiconductor material (primarily crystalline silicon) capture sunlight and convert it to direct electric current (DC). In order to change DC power to safe alternating current (AC) that can be used in your home to power anything plugged into an outlet, REC will also install an inverter as a part of your system. The system is then connected to your electrical panel (or electrical box) for distribution throughout your house. If your system generates extra power, it will return to the utility grid and you will receive a bill credit that you can use later in the year, when you re using more than you re producing (e.g. during the winter months). How many solar panels will I need for my property? The number of panels required for a home depends primarily on the amount of electricity currently used in the home, so each home will be different. Register for a free solar consultation at the Solar Benefits Colorado webpage and an REC consultant will calculate how many panels you need based on your last 12 months of electricity usage and amount of roof space you have available. 2

3 What is the warranty on the solar panels? REC is offering participants a choice of solar panels, each with a 10-year factory warranty on all materials and a 25-year energy production warranty. If you choose to lease, all the equipment is covered by a replacement warranty for the full term of the lease and you ll also receive maintenance and monitoring for free. How do I know if my roof is suitable for solar? Solar works on many kinds of roofs, ideally those that are in good condition, don t have issues with shade and preferably face south, southwest or west (to capture the most sun throughout the day). If you know that your roof is in need of replacing, or will be soon, it is recommended that you take care of that upgrade at the same time you install your solar system. Your solar system will last for at least twenty-five years and while you can do a roof replacement or repairs once your system has been installed, it can be a significant added expense. If my roof is shaded, does that make a difference? Shade reduces the amount of electricity your system can produce. Register for a free solar consultation at the Solar Benefits Colorado webpage and an REC representative will assess your roof, analyze the potential for shading, and design your system to maximum sun exposure, although some roof locations may be too shady to make solar feasible. How much maintenance is required? Solar PV systems generally require very little maintenance. Light cleaning once or twice a year to remove excessive dust and debris is typically all that is needed. The inverter that converts DC current to AC is warrantied for years (depending on the model chosen), and will likely need replacement sometime during the operating life of the panels. If you choose to lease a system, maintenance is included as part of the lease agreement. How does a solar PV system increase the value of my property? According to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), homes with solar systems sell for a premium compared to homes that don t have them. LBNL evaluated home sales from and contrasted the sale price of homes with solar systems and without. On average, PV systems added $5.50 per watt to a home s value. So with a 1 kw system, a home is worth about $5,500 more another great reason to install solar on your house! Will I have power during a blackout? No. To ensure safety during a blackout for you and the electric company s employees, your system s inverter will shut down automatically. When power is restored to the grid your system will resume normal operation. What rebates and other incentives are available? There is currently a 30% federal tax credit that you can claim on your income tax return for next year, or roll that over into future years. If you choose to lease a system the tax credit will be claimed by the third-party owner, either SunRun or Clean Power Finance depending on which solar lease/power Purchase Agreement you choose. The savings from the tax credit will be passed along to you in the form of a lower lease cost. Under the lease and PPA options, the thirdparty owner will take a depreciation tax credit that homeowners are unable to claim and pass that additional savings on to you as well. 3

4 In Xcel Energy service territory, Solar*Rewards is active and is currently (August 21) in Step 6. The incentive amounts and current Step level can be found online at: In Colorado Springs service territory, Renewable Energy Rebates for PV are available at a rate of $1.50/w AC. More information and forms for requesting the rebate are available at: In United Power service territory, Renewable Rebates are available at a rate of $0.60/w (up to a 3kW / $1800 maximum). Details on United Power s rebate program can be found here: Register for a solar consultation through Solar Benefits Colorado and REC will develop a proposal for your home location and energy use that includes all applicable incentives. Financing Questions What financing options are available under this program? Is leasing also available? Through this program, you can purchase a system no matter where you live within REC s installation territory. Or, if you reside in Xcel Energy service territory, you also have the option to lease a home solar system for 20-years through REC s partners Clean Power Finance or SunRun. When you register at the Solar Benefits Colorado program webpage, you may indicate your interest in owning, leasing, or exploring both options. Through these partners, REC Solar offers leases with a low down payment, and monthly payments designed to be lower than what you would otherwise pay your utility for power meaning you can start saving money on your electric bills from the day you switch to solar. Another option, the fully Pre-paid Lease, lets you cover 100% of the 20-year lease cost up front with your own source of financing or cash, while benefitting from the maintenance and monitoring included with a lease. This option lets customers take advantage of the lowest overall cost of energy, particularly if you already have access to a low-cost financing option such as a mortgage or home equity line of credit. What s included in the lease? The Solar Lease and Power Purchase Agreement options from Clean Power Finance and SunRun provides homeowners an easy way to go solar Get started for as little as $0 down and start saving money from Day 1 Performance guarantee ensures that your system produces the energy promised or your money back Free system maintenance and monitoring Insurance against both damage and theft Early lease buyout options at fair market value prices Online credit decisions What options do I have under a lease at the end of the 20-year term? At the end of the lease, homeowners can: 4

5 Renew the lease, Purchase the system, or Return the equipment What if I sell my home during the term of the lease? Transfer the agreement to the new homeowner (with no transfer fee) Pay out the remainder of the agreement Purchase the system Are there any loans through a local bank available for solar? The Elevations Energy Loan is available to participants in Denver and Boulder counties. Please note that borrowers must achieve a 15% energy savings through efficiency improvements in addition to the new solar installation to be eligible for solar financing through an Elevations loan. It is simple to get started if this is a good option for you. Through the Denver Energy Challenge and Boulder Energy Smart programs, you will work with a qualified energy advisor (at no-cost) to achieve the needed energy efficiency savings, improve your homes comfort and make your solar go further. Rates start at 2.75% Can loan to 580 FICO and above Loans of all sizes are available To get started you will need to register for Solar Benefits Colorado and receive a proposal from REC Solar. You will then need to call the following numbers to schedule your energy efficiency evaluation with an Energy Advisor that has been vetted by the City & County. o Denver: o Boulder County: Your Energy Advisor will make suggestions on how you can achieve your 15% in energy savings If you determine the energy efficiency measures are a good fit for your home, you will apply for the loan (for both EE and solar) with Elevations and sign your contract with REC Solar. Other Common Questions Do I have to live in Denver or Boulder to participate? While the program was launched primarily for residents of the Denver / Boulder county metro areas, you only have to live within the shaded area of the map along the Front Range, and be an employee / member of one of the following organizations / programs (the City and County of Denver, Denver Energy Challenge, Adams County, Boulder County, Boulder Energy Smart, the City of Aurora, the City of Westminster, the State of Colorado, Agencies of the Federal Government, and the Elevations Credit Union). What if I own a condominium? Solar may only be installed on multi-unit residential buildings (with multiple owners) in one of two ways. The first method is to install solar and use the generated electricity for any common area 5

6 electric-usage, like hallway or landscape lighting. In this instance, the solar system would be owned by the homeowners association (HOA) itself and would be considered a commercially owned solar system, so it would fall outside the scope of this program. The second method involves installing individual systems that benefit specific electric meters on specific units. In this case, while the HOA wouldn't own the solar system itself (which would be owned by the owner of the unit it powers), the HOA would need to give written approval and authorization to have the solar equipment (including panels, external conduit/wiring, and electrical boxes) installed on any commonly-owned surface, including the roof and building walls. As an example, the owner of a condominium in a 6-unit building could not install solar without the approval of the HOA (or other organization) that owns the roof and exterior walls, since condominium owners typically only own the space they reside in. This type of owner-approval is a standard solar industry requirement, as REC Solar or any other contractor will need to have permission from the legal property owner to perform work on a building. Please note: any building with more than one unit, even those with a single-owner are not eligible for third-party leasing through SunRun or Clean Power Finance. What if I m a renter? Only the legal owner of a property may enter into a contract to purchase or lease a solar installation. If you rent your home, and the owner is interested in going solar, they may register on the program webpage, courtesy of your eligibility. Please have them include the information identifying you as the tenant and your organizational affiliation in the referral notes section of the registration page. Please note: any building with more than one unit, even those with a single-owner, are not eligible for third-party leasing through SunRun or Clean Power Finance. What about Solar Gardens? We are excited to offer a solution to Solar Benefits Colorado Program Participants who are renters or otherwise could not go solar. REC Solar is partnered with Clean Energy Collective who offers a unique solution for Xcel Energy customers in specified counties called Solar*Gardens. This program allows homeowners to purchase solar modules at a remote location and enjoy the benefits of solar power on their Xcel Energy Bill. Solar*Gardens is a perfect solution for homeowners who don t own their property, or don t have a suitable site for solar. If this is an option you are interested in exploring, please sign up via the Solar Benefits Colorado website. REC Solar will confirm the availability of a Solar*Garden in your community (county) and answer any questions you have. The counties that apply are: Boulder County Arapahoe County and City of Aurora Denver County Jefferson County Summit County Please note that purchasing shares of a Solar*Garden does not require REC Solar to go to your home since your roof is not being evaluated. Phone appointments are most efficient. Based on your electrical usage, REC will then build a proposal for you to review. 6

7 Please note: Due to the structure of the Xcel Solar*Rewards Community program, Solar Garden shares are not eligible for the Solar Benefits Program pricing. Is there a minimum size for the solar system? The minimum size solar system that can be installed under the program is 2 kw in order for the system to work properly. This size system would cover all the electricity demand of a home that is currently paying about $40/month on their electricity bill. Are there programs available for other home energy efficiency improvements? If you live in Boulder or Denver, then yes! Reducing your electricity demand is a great way to reduce the amount of solar you need to install, and thus the costs of going solar. Check out the Boulder Energy Smart and Denver Energy Challenge sites to learn more about how you can reduce your energy bills and make your home more comfortable. How can I learn more about the program? Attend one of the upcoming webinars or workshops listed on News tab of the Solar Benefits Colorado program webpage, or contact 7

8 About the program sponsor ICLEI ICLEI USA is the leading nonprofit membership association of local governments committed to climate action, clean energy, and sustainability. ICLEI USA is the only organization that provides all of the necessary resources to help local governments achieve their sustainability goals. ICLEI USA's mission is to build, serve and drive a movement of local governments to advance deep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and achieve tangible improvements in local sustainability. The City/County of Denver and Boulder County are members of ICLEI. GroupEnergy is the program administrator the ICLEI Energy Benefits program and is a project of the non-profit Vote Solar Initiative. Program Partners: 8

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