Buy renewable energy
If you want to go straight to the source — straight to the wind, that is — and install a wind turbine in your backyard, you can in many places. Boulder County recently changed its regulations, making it easier to install wind turbines that are actually tall enough to work. You’ll still have to get a permit, though, and the taller your wind turbine, the more stringent the rules. Check out the new regulations here.
If you want to learn more about installing small wind power, check out this Web page from the researchers down the road at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory or this Web page from the American Wind Energy Association. Also, current federal tax codes allow homeowners to write off 30 percent of the cost of installing the turbine. Get more information here.
The city of Boulder will also refund any sales and use tax you paid when you bought the panels, and Boulder gives grants for solar thermal systems a couple times a year. Check out the city’s Web site for more information on both programs.
Xcel Energy customers can also get rebates from the utility by enrolling in the company’s Solar Rewards program. And all solar projects in Boulder County are likely eligible for funding from the ClimateSmart Loan Program, which attaches the debt to the property not the person. That means if you move before your solar panels (or other loan-eligible energy-efficiency upgrade is paid off), the new homeowner becomes responsible for the loan payments.
To see a full list of incentives, loans and rebates available in Colorado, check out the Database for State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiencies here.