Modernizing the Fort Collins Solar program

 

Modernize the Fort Collins Solar Subsidy program.  The current solar subsidy program was adopted from an Xcel Energy program in 2008 when the state required Fort Collins Utilities (FCU) to meet a minimum requirement. The idea of any new technology subsidy is to help early adopters make an investment that doesn't pay for itself. We do this because the technology is good for society and early adopters help to bring down the cost of the tech. In this case Fort Collins Utilities offered rebates that were designed to help solar pay for itself over the lifetime of the panels, to break even. It worked!  Now solar pays for itself in about half it's lifetime without the FCU rebates. Now solar can not only stand on its own, but is profitable.

So why is Fort Collins still giving people rebates for something that makes them money? Everyone in town pays into the fund that provides these rebates. If you don't have the $10k in upfront cash to buy panels - too bad, you still have to pay for someone else's rebates. If you rent - sorry, still gotta pay. Even if you don't have access to these rebates, you have to pay for them. At least when solar owners weren't making a profit off the rebates they helped everyone by bring down cost. Now it's just a bonus from the government. The good news that there is a better way to do it. Now that solar is cheap enough utilities can offer financing instead of rebates. This allows every income level to get into the solar market (no upfront cost) and reduces the amount of the subsidies. By only assisting with community accessible projects Fort Collins can further democratize the solar economy. Community accessible solar is a solar project that anyone can buy into. It doesn't go on your roof. You only need to be a FCU customer to participate. There is one of these projects on the corner of Riverside and Mulberry. Some communities allow "solar sharing" where one neighbor hosts the panels on his/her roof and multiple people can invest. This is the kind of creative thinking that we need in Fort Collins.