San Isabel Electric Partners with Steel City Solar

Things were bopping at Bumperz earlier this month when the media gathered at the West Pueblo entertainment center for a big announcement by San Isabel Electric and Steel City Solar. The Pueblo Chieftain, FOX 21, and KOAA were some of the area press there on Tuesday, October 6, 2020, to hear the big news that San Isabel Electric is teaming up with Steel City Solar to offer solar power to customers.

Whether you’re a homeowner or a business owner in southern Colorado, sustainable solar power is coming your way sooner than you think. San Isabel Electric Association recently announced that its Empower Program is now offering solar power to its customers.

The Empower Program already offers the sale and installation of several energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly energy solutions including quiet cooling, home insulation, electric water heaters, electric thermal storage units, industrial fans, electric forced air heaters, and air-source heat pumps. Now, homeowners will have even more options as they team up with locally-owned Steel City Solar, to provide solar energy as an additional green solution to meet home and business owners’ energy needs.

Cost-Efficient Power for Small Businesses

The new partnership was announced at the entertainment destination, Bumperz, which takes full advantage of Empower’s energy-efficient services. That includes a solar array that was installed by Steel City Solar. Bumperz, located on Angus Avenue in Pueblo West, provides bowling, miniature golf, escape rooms, food, beer, and live music. The money-saving energy plan for the building provided by Empower enabled the business to be able to open and run during the coronavirus pandemic, a time of slower traffic for many businesses. The Empower products and services in use at Bumperz include a 33-kilowatt solar array, which is installed on the roof of the establishment, and two large industrial fans which help keep the inside of the building cool and comfortable.

Any members of the San Isabel Electric Association co-op can take advantage of the program’s products and services, even if they don’t use San Isabel as their electric provider. If you’re not sure how to best reduce energy use in your home or business, Steel City Solar will provide a free energy audit to determine the best plan for your needs. Solutions vary from simply adding more insulation or sealing air links in your building to solar array installation and HVAC system replacement.

The Benefits of Switching to Solar

Including a solar array in your home or business can yield significant savings. The most obvious benefit is that your solar array becomes part of the electric grid, or “grid-tied.” This means that not only does electricity flow from the grid to your array, but your array supplies electricity to the grid as well. This results in a process known as net metering: during times that your solar array generates more electrical power than your home or business is using, the extra power is sent to the grid to be used elsewhere. During times when solar energy is not adequate for your energy needs, you use grid electricity. Your electric bill is offset by the amount of solar energy that your array provided to the grid, on a one-to-one basis. This policy is a requirement for all energy providers in Colorado and allows you to be credited for the electricity that you produce.

But net metering isn’t the only benefit you’ll receive by switching to solar: there are several tax breaks and incentives that help make the process of switching to solar easier and more affordable:

  • You will not be charged sales tax for the purchase of your entire solar array, so you will save 3.5% in sales tax on your purchase
  • Most homes see a substantial rise in property values after the installation of a solar system; you will be exempt from an increase in property taxes that would normally accompany an increase in property value
  • You can claim 26% of your investment in solar as a federal tax credit (as an extra incentive to switch to solar sooner than later, the tax credit will be reduced to 22% in 2021 and expires in 2022).

Customers can choose to bundle other energy efficiency upgrades when they purchase a solar system, such as improved insulation and energy-efficient windows. This will reduce the needed energy to heat and cool a home, and reduce the required size of a solar array, which could have sizable cost-savings.

Steel City Solar offers financing options to help customers make the transition to solar. For instance, they offer lease packages for solar arrays that are low interest and require no money upfront, and they provide both short-term and long-term financing options.

The San Isabel co-op sees expansion into solar as a way to improve the quality of life for residents in the southern Colorado area. Because the co-op is a nonprofit, they don’t benefit from raising rates or selling more electricity to consumers. Rather, they strive toward a more sustainable path that involves helping residents reduce their electric consumption so that they can grow their businesses and the local community.