Solar installation fees capped

The cost just went down for Grand Valley residents and others in the state who are thinking about installing solar panels.

That happened Friday when Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a bill to cap fees that local and state governments can charge to have them installed.

Those fees rose as high as $2,500 for residential installations and more than $100,000 for large-scale jobs, said Neal Lurie, executive director of the Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association. But after July 1, local governments cannot charge more than $500 for residential installations and $1,000 for commercial systems.

In areas of Colorado that have no local inspectors and leave that duty to the State Electrical Board and the Division of Fire Safety, House Bill 1199 limits those agencies from charging more than $500 for residential panels that generate two megawatts or more of electricity, and $2,000 for non-residential installations.

The limits apply to installation permits, plan reviews and any other related fees.

Lurie said the new law not only will save consumers money, but boost jobs for solar panel installation firms.

“Solar costs have just come down in Colorado,” Lurie said. “This bipartisan legislation helps promote local economic development and reinforces Colorado’s role as a national leader in solar energy.”

The measure was introduced into this year’s Colorado Legislature by Rep. Bob Gardner, R-Colorado Springs, and Sen. Bob Bacon, D-Fort Collins.

Lurie said that although the cost of installing solar panels has declined in recent years, the fees charged by governments have increased. He said such fees can increase the cost of installations by as much as 33 percent.

In an unrelated matter, Hickenlooper also signed a measure dealing with how school districts establish emergency preparedness and response plans.

Specifically, the measure, introduced by Sen. Steve King, R-Grand Junction, clarifies that schools should work with the Colorado Department of Public Safety Fire Safety Division to develop their plans, and calls for them to improve communications between schools and state and local emergency personnel.


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