A solar electric system – using photovoltaic panels (PV) – generates electricity that can be used throughout your home or can be sold to your utility. PV panels generate direct current (DC), that is converted to alternating current (AC) by an inverter (AC). This allows the power to be consumed by your home or business. To learn more about how this works, we welcome you to attend an outreach event.
The size of a solar electric system is often described in Watts (W) or kilowatts (kW). One kW = 1,000 W. Watts are a unit of power, just like the horsepower of an engine. They express the maximum possible output of energy the system can produce at any point in time. When sunlight strikes solar electric panels, they produce electricity that is measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh). One kilowatt-hour is a kilowatt of power sustained for one hour. Kilowatt-hours are the units of energy you buy from your utility and use in your home to run your appliances, lighting and electronics.
You bet! One of the first pieces of information solar installers use to determine if a location is an ideal spot for solar is determining solar irradiation, or sunlight intensity. This measurement over time is known as solar insolation. At 300 days of sunshine, Colorado has some of the best solar insolation in the country! Installers then take solar insolation data and plug it into PV performance software to predict the kWh potential of an install site. Using this information we can determine that each kW of installed solar in Western Colorado will produce about twice as much energy as the same kW in Germany, the world leader of installed PV! Now we just need to determine if your home or business is right for solar.

After you sign up for your free solar assessment, Solarize will examine your property and let you know if it is suitable for solar. In general, solar works well on south, west, southwest and to a lesser extent east-facing roofs. There should be little or no shading from trees, buildings, chimneys or roof gables on or adjacent to your home.

If your roof is old or damaged, you may need to replace part or all of your roof before installing solar. In some instances, an electrical upgrade may be needed if your home has older wiring. Your installer will help you assess these issues.
If your rooftop is not suitable, you might consider a ground-mounted system.

Solarize Delta County is open to anyone in Delta County, whether home, business or farm/ranch. If you are the property owner, you can participate. Financing is also available, which will allow more in our community to access the benefits of solar. Farms and rural businesses can benefit from USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). More information under the resources tab.

At this time, Solarize is only offered for homeowners. However you are welcome to speak to your landlord about participating! In addition, Colorado has pioneered community solar gardens, which allow many people previously prohibited from going solar, like renters, low-income community members, and those with poor roofs or shading issues. DMEA built some of the earliest gardens in the country back in 2011. With member demand, it is likely such projects and other innovative programs like On-Bill financing can expand access to cost-effective solar.

No, but this arrangement is generally most beneficial financially. The solar energy that you produce is sent back out to the electric lines and is available for others to use. This provides greater community benefit for solar installations.

You also benefit because DMEA and City of Delta Utility credits you at the retail rate for the excess power that you produce (see “How do I sell my solar electricity back to the utility?” below).

Utility customers can choose to sell their solar power to the utility using net metering. Unlike conventional meters that only spin one-way, net metering tracks both energy consumed and energy produced, effectively spinning the meter backwards!

DMEA has a very generous net-metering policy, crediting the customer at retail rates and allowing you to roll over excess energy produced in summer to the months when customers typically need it the most, in winter. DMEA will even pay for leftover energy each year, at their avoided cost of electricity. City of Delta Utility also has a net-metering policy, but does not pay you for excess energy.

When you install solar panels, if you opt for a net metering arrangement with your utility, your electric meter will be replaced. Your new meter will measure both the electricity you are purchasing from your utility and the electricity you are sending to the grid. The utility tracks both of these when it reads your meter, and you are charged only for your “net” energy use – the electricity you purchased minus what your solar system sent to the grid. If your solar system generates more kilowatt-hours than you purchase in a given month, you receive a credit on your account for those excess kilowatt-hours at the full retail rate. That credit can be used up in later months.

The federal tax credit that pays back 30% of the cost of your system is in effect until the end of 2019; it drops to 26% in 2020 and 22% in 2021. Beginning in 2022, the credit expires for residences and drops to 10% for businesses. The federal tax credit can be taken over 2 years.

These amounts are deducted from the amount of tax you owe (before withholding), so if you do not owe enough taxes, you may not be able to claim the full tax credit. Since nonprofit organizations do not pay income taxes, they cannot benefit from the solar tax credits.

NOTE: This information is provided as a guideline only. Consult your tax advisor for complete information applicable to your situation.

As tax-exempt entities, nonprofit and government entities cannot benefit from tax credits. However, other financial mechanisms like Colorado’s PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) and utility program’s like on-bill financing can allow more people to benefit from renewable energy. At this time, these programs are not yet available in Delta County.
Beyond DMEA’s generous net metering policy, there are no other current utility incentives. City of Delta Utility also has a net-metering policy. Solarize offers a limited time window to further reduce costs of solar for the community, in the absence of such incentives.

Farms and rural small businesses may also qualify for a 25% grant from the USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) (additional information on REAP is available at farmenergy.org.

Empowered Energy Systems, our installers, offer a 5-year warranty on their workmanship. There are also warranties through the manufacturers. Below are a list products and their associated warranties for 2016:
Inverters

  • SMA – 10 year standard warranty (extensions available)
  • SolarEdge – 12 year standard warranty on inverters (extensions available) / 25 year warranty on optimizers

PV Modules

  • REC Twin Peak Series – 280W typical, but actual size/model may vary during the year / 25 year linear warranty – 0.7% per year / 10 year workmanship warranty
  • SolarWorld SunModule Plus – 280W typical, but actual size/model may vary during the year / 25 year linear warranty – 0.7% per year / 10 year workmanship warranty

Mounting Products

  • Roof Mounts – SnapnRack will be standard for most roof mount systems / Low pitch roofs are custom designs on a case by case basis
  • Ground Mounts – Schletter and Iron Ridge solutions are typical for most systems
  • Pole Mounts – DP&W is typical for most systems

In general, the PV modules should be kept clean of debris such as excessive dust, leaves, sticks, bird droppings, etc. Accumulation of such material on the panels can affect power output, but rainfall in Colorado is generally adequate to wash off the panels and keep that effect to a minimum.
We advise performing a visual inspection of the PV array and checking the system output production on inverter or monitoring system at least once per month to ensure proper operation. More than likely, everything will be working just fine. However this is a great habit to help catch any potential issues early and minimize any downtime.

When the power goes out, your solar panels will automatically stop providing electricity to your home. Since your solar system is connected to the electric grid, if someone is working on the lines to bring the electricity back on in the neighborhood, the energy from the solar system could harm the worker if the system remained on. This is stipulated in the National Electric Code.
Each solar contract through Solarize Delta County is a custom project. Though energy storage add cost and maintenance to a system, you can discuss battery storage options with our Solarize partner installers and determine if it right for you.

It generally takes about 4-8 weeks from the time the contract is signed until the system is completed.  Ground mount and other custom racking systems will likely add a few weeks to this timeframe.  Below is a typical timeline:

    1. Receive signed contract and deposit.  Review installation process with client.  Schedule week to begin installation.  
    2. Order equipment.
    3. Obtain necessary permits.
    4. Start installation work. Install racking, inverter, conduit runs and most of PV array.    
    5. Rough-in inspection within 3-5 days of completing work:  State electrical rough inspection.  
    6. Finish installation within 3-5 days of rough-in inspection.  Finish PV array, finish any wiring, test and commission system.  
    7. Final inspection within 3-5 days of finishing work.  
    8. Local municipal building inspection if required (town limits).  
    9. DMEA installs net meter within 3-5 days of notification
    10. Walk through system with client and review system reference binder.  
    11. Collect final payment.  
    12. Rebate at the end of program for final tier pricing.  

Your installer will take care of building and electrical permits for you and the cost is included in your installation price.

Solar arrays can be installed on most roof types including shingle, metal and tile. If your roof is in poor condition, you may need to replace it or make repairs prior to having a solar system installed. Your installer can help you determine the condition of your roof and what steps to take.

A good rule of thumb is that 1 kW of solar electric panels require about 100 square feet of space and will typically produce 1,000-1,500 kWh of electricity each year.

Yes, Solarize systems can be installed on businesses as well. You must own the building in which your business is located. Commercial installations will be priced individually, but will help us reach our Solarize program goals.
Every year millions of dollars from our community leave DMEA’s service area to pay for power from their wholesale power provider located on the Front Range. If a fraction of this energy could be produced locally, it means more money that circulates in the community, employs local labor, and advances local energy development and economic revitalization.
The City of Delta Utility and DMEA have different net-metering policies. Net metering allows you to measure the energy you consume from the utility but also measure the excess energy you put back on the grid. When you produce more energy than you consume, excess energy goes back to the grid and you are credited.

The main difference with the City of Delta Utility’s current net metering as compared to DMEA’s policy, is that it has annual true-ups in October, meaning valuable excess credits generated in summer months are zeroed out during the months you most need them: the fall and winter. Compared to DMEA’s policy, this drastically changing the value proposition of solar.

The City of Delta receives its energy from a different wholesale power provider than DMEA. As a voting member, the City of Delta Utility works with other municipal and community utilities, to outline provisions for all of its members. There is potential that new directives from the wholesale power provider will allow members like the City of Delta to adopt a more solar-friendly net-metering policy in the future, that will allow more people to benefit from going solar, and promote more local energy production.

The City of Delta cannot change their net-metering policy at this time until they have a better understanding of policy changes coming from their wholesale power provider.

Solarize Delta County is still open to all in the county and our partner installers will work with Delta residents to interconnect should they choose to go solar. For education sake, it is just important to be aware of the differences between DMEA and City of Delta Utilities net-metering policies, which could change the value proposition of solar for some City of Delta Utility customers.

Residents of Delta are welcome to speak to their utility regarding their net-metering policy. It is the hope that the demand for solar created through Solarize will help encourage a more inclusive net metering policy, so all of Delta County can access the benefits of the sun. 

The first step is to register for the program >HERE.

Once registered, we will ask you to complete a free, no commitment Remote Site Assessment, prior to having an installer visit your site and prepare a custom proposal for you. Any questions can be directed to the Solarize Team at solarize@solarenergy.org or 970-527-7657 x213. Thank you for taking the first step to support local energy, and go solar as a community!