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Learning about installing solar power may come easier for residents of Adams County, Northglenn and Westminster who sign up for the new solar co-op. 

All three have partnered with the nonprofit Solar United Neighbors to help homeowners and small businesses owners learn and purchase solar panels. 

Northglenn Mayor Meredith Leighty talked about the importance of protecting the planet citing her experience as a mayor, educator and mom of two kids at the event’s march 23 kickoff at the Adams County Riverdale Regional Park. 

“I want our kids to grow up in a healthy environment,” she said. 

She expressed her city’s dedication to tackling the climate crisis and urged crucial haste local municipalities must take in addressing climate change. 

One project she recalled is Northglenn City Hall becoming net-zero energy in the future, meaning the building will produce as much energy as it consumes. She hopes residents and businesses will do the same with their own property. 

Joining the co-op, she said, gives residents the opportunity to learn more about whether solar makes sense for their situation, without any obligation. 

Residents can join the co-op to receive information on how governments and non-profits can assist them with investing in solar panels. As well, electric chargers for electric vehicles are also available through the program. 

The deadline to sign up for the co-op is Aug. 10. 

“We are not going to achieve our climate goals without investing in solar,” said Jonathan Rogers, a 2020 Denver Solar Co-Op Participant. 

The Cost 

According to Bryce Carter, the Colorado Program Director for Solar United Neighbors, costs for solar have dropped 90% since 2010. 

As well, a 26% federal tax credit for the total cost of the system is available. However, that will go down to 22% in 2023 and 0% in 2025. 

With the tax credit, the net cost is around $10,456 with the payback period at 11.8 years, depending on size and energy use.

That is because spare electricity produced by the solar panels, not used by a home or business, can be sold back to the electric grid. The cash credit will show up on electric bills: the total amount of electricity consumed minus the total amount of electricity produced, according to the Co-Ops website. 

Common Concerns 

Living in Colorado, Carter said a concern of snow blocking the sun from reaching the panels is common. 

Carter explained that the snow coverage melts or slides off the panels relatively quickly due to the heat they produce. 

For hail, Carter pointed to the 2017 hailstorm in Jefferson County. Of 3,000 panels his group tracks, only one was damaged due to the hail. 

Solar Spaces 

South-facing roofs are optimum, roofs facing west or east are suitable, he said. But north facing are a no-go for solar panels. There also must be little to no shading from surrounding trees or buildings and at least 200 square feet of roof space to hold the solar panel array. 

There are also many different technologies for accommodating different scenarios, including shingles, ground systems and fitting them to accommodate skylight windows. 

Connecting the system to homes is relatively easy and is a very standard connection, Carter said. Most homes don’t need any upgrades before adding solar.