Energy Incentive Programs, Colorado

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Updated June 2015

2007 legislation enabled the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to establish a multi-year energy savings goal for electric utilities in the state. Reduction targets are set to 1.35% of sales in 2015 and increase to 1.68% in 2020. Utilities file their plans to work toward targets annually. The companies collectively budgeted over $110 million in 2014 to promote energy efficiency and load management in the state.  

What public-purpose-funded energy efficiency programs are available in my state?

Colorado has no public-purpose-funded energy efficiency programs. 

What utility energy efficiency programs are available to me?

Xcel Energy offers rebates under various energy efficiency initiatives for existing buildings and new construction. Programs cover up to 60% of project costs and include the following: 

  • The Business Energy Advisor provides tools and other resources to reduce energy use.

  • The Commercial Refrigeration Efficiency program starts with a free refrigeration assessment and offers screw-in LEDs, pre-rinse sprayers, and coil cleaning. Rebates are available for additional commercial refrigeration equipment upgrades. 

  • The Compressed Air Efficiency program funds a study to analyze your compressed air system as well as rebates for prescriptive and custom measures. The assessment is not required to receive rebates.

  • Computer Efficiency offers prescriptive rebates for qualifying equipment or software.

  • Cooling Efficiency includes rebates for efficient chillers, condensing units, rooftop units, split systems, water-source heat pumps, evaporative cooling, and more. 

  • Heating Efficiency covers rebates for qualifying new or upgraded boilers, furnaces, and water heaters. Tune-ups, other efficiency improvement measures, and custom rebates are also covered.

  • Custom Efficiency provides up to $400 per kW of peak power reduced for almost any type of electric equipment upgrade or process improvement that leads to energy savings. Custom Efficiency projects require pre-approval before equipment purchase and installation.

  • Lighting Efficiency offers incentives for lighting retrofits, new construction, or custom measures. Free lighting assessments and additional rebates are available to small or mid-sized electric customers through the Small Business Lighting program.

  • Motors and Drives covers new motors, motor upgrades, variable/adjustable drives, and custom projects.

  • Financing options are also available.

Black Hills Energy offers several efficiency programs to its commercial and industrial customers: 

  • The Gas Prescriptive Rebate program offers incentives for purchases of high-efficiency space heating, water heating, insulation upgrades, commercial kitchen equipment, and more.

  • The Colorado Gas Custom Rebate program provides commercial customers with rebates that buy down their retrofit costs to a two-year payback, or up to 50% of the incremental cost of energy-saving measures, whichever is less (maximum $6/Mcf saved). However, pre-approval is required. Industrial customers may also be eligible for free site assessments and training.

  • The Colorado Gas Commercial New Construction program provides financial incentives to offset design and installation costs of energy-efficient building systems and equipment (at least 15% better than IECC 2009 and ASHRAE 90.1-2007) in new construction and major renovation projects. The program offers two levels of incentives: the Custom Track for projects that enroll near the end of the schematic design phase (typically garnering 30%-40% more energy savings than the codes require) and the Custom Plus Track (designed to achieve 40%-60% more savings than the standards) for projects enrolling immediately after architect selection. Design incentives depend on building size and construction incentives range from $0.60/therm of first-year savings for the minimum 15% reduction to $1.90/therm for savings of at least 70% below the code levels.

  • The Electric Prescriptive Rebate program provides rebates for efficient lighting, motors, heat pumps, variable frequency drives and electric water heaters. 

  • The Colorado Electric Custom Rebate program provides up to $1,500 in design assistance per building and rebates for custom projects that are not covered by the prescriptive program and have a payback period of one year or longer. Incentive amounts are based on per kWh savings on a sliding scale based on the total project kWh (up to 50%).

  • The Colorado Electric Self-Direct Custom Rebate program provides rebates per kWh savings on a sliding scale based on the total project kWh (up to 50% of the incremental cost). Commercial and industrial customers with aggregated peak load greater than 1MW are eligible. 

  • The Small Commercial Direct Install (SBDI) Lighting Program provides commercial customers with incentives for the purchase and installation of energy efficient lighting. The SBDI Lighting Program participants must have an average electric demand of less than 350 kW per year. Participants receive a free lighting energy evaluation identifying potential energy savings and a customized proposal including information about potential energy savings, installation cost, and anticipated payback. Incentives up to 70% of the equipment and installation cost, and participants may finance the remaining portion of the lighting project costs interest-free through a third party. To participate, call 719-924-8307 or visit this website.

Colorado Springs Utilities offers rebates for the installation of equipment and measures that save energy and water. Incentivized measures include efficient electric motors, windows, lighting and HVAC equipment. Custom rebates are also available at $60 per peak kW and $0.09 per kWh of first year savings. 

Platte River Power Authority and the utilities of its owner municipalities—Estes Park, Fort Collins, Longmont, and Loveland – have united all of their efficiency offerings under one program called Efficiency Works™. The program includes the following incentives:

  • Free facility assessment to identify energy-saving opportunities.

  • Rebates for a wide array of measures including lighting, cooling, envelope, grocery equipment, IT and office equipment, motor VFDs, water efficiency, building tune-ups, and custom measures.  

  • The Business Efficiency Grant offers $2,000 grants for qualifying projects in addition to available rebates. Total amount of the rebate and grant is limited to 75% of the total project cost. Customers can receive up to $5,000 during the grant period for implementing two or more project types ($1,000 bonus). 

Fort Collins Utilities’ Integrated Design Assistance Program provides design, construction, and performance incentives.

La Plata Electric Association, Inc. provides rebates for installing efficient lighting, electric water heaters, permanent electric heaters, energy-efficient motors and air- and ground-source heat pumps.

Sangre De Cristo Electric Association offers rebates for installing qualifying new efficient space heating and new or replacement water heating equipment.

SourceGas offers the Excess Is Out program, which provides rebates for a variety of energy-efficiency equipment upgrades including high-efficiency gas furnaces and boilers, duct and pipe insulation, ceiling and wall insulation, programmable thermostats, commercial kitchen equipment and improvements to existing space and water heating systems. Their Custom Energy-Efficiency program is also available for large commercial and industrial customers and covers up to 50% of the cost of an energy audit (maximum $7,500) and 50% of the cost of approved equipment and measures (maximum $50,000).

United Power offers rebates for installing specific energy-efficient equipment and appliances including air- and ground-source heat pumps, electric water heaters, electric heat and thermal storage, electric motors, commercial lighting, LED street lighting, and ENERGY STAR appliances. Rebates must be requested within 180 days of installation.

The Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) website provides information on additional programs offered to commercial customers by municipal utilities and rural electric cooperatives.  

What load management/demand response options are available to me?

Xcel Energy’s Interruptible Credit Option (ICO) provides opportunities for significant electric bill savings to customers who have a contract interruptible load (the median of maximum demands from noon-8pm weekdays from June 1 to September 30 of the previous year) of at least 500 kW. Participants choose the amount of interruption appropriate for their facility. Remuneration in the form of a monthly credit is based on the maximum annual hours of interruption and the advance notice needed, so it ranges widely. Customers may choose either the year-round or summer version of the program.

Colorado Springs Utilities offers the Kilowatcher Rate to large customers (at least 1,000 kWh/day electrical consumption during the past 12 billing periods) who are able to curtail electric load with a 24-hour notice. The program allows customers to buy electricity at a lower rate throughout the year during on-peak hours, provided they curtail load up to 100 hours per contract year when called upon during pre-declared “Super Peak” periods, which may be called between 11 A.M. and 6 P.M. April to September, and 4 to 10 P.M. October to March. 

What distributed energy resource options are available to me?

The Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) website provides information on programs that offer incentives for renewable distributed generation.  

Pursuant to the 2004 passage of Amendment 37, Colorado’s utilities with 40,000 or more customers must provide a $2/watt (or greater) rebate for solar PV systems (up to 100 kW) installed in their territory. In 2010, H.B. 1001 increased the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) to 20% of annual retail sales from 2015-2019, and 30% by 2020. The legislation also mandates that by 2020, 3% of total electricity sales must come from distributed generation systems, (e.g., customer-located solar PV).

Xcel Energy’s Solar*Rewards program offers incentives for installing small PV systems (<25 kW) and medium-sized systems (25.1-500 kW). Payments are per kWh produced and require pre-approval. Check website for remaining MW available at each incentive level.

Colorado Springs Utilities’ Renewable Energy Rebate Program and Black Hills Energy’s Colorado Electric Solar Power Program also offer incentives, but check the sites for availability. 

Are there energy efficiency programs sponsored by the state government?

The Colorado state energy office lists commercial and public buildings resources that provide support for public agencies to invest in energy-efficiency improvements through performance contracting, sustainable design in new buildings, commissioning, and other energy management strategies. Programs are largely targeted toward state and local public agencies.   

What additional opportunities are available to me?

Federal customers whose utilities have area-wide supply contracts through GSA (e.g., Colorado Springs Utilities and Public Service Company of Colorado), may be able to take advantage of 3rd-party financed energy efficiency projects called utility energy services contracts (UESCs). Information is available in GSA’s Energy Division Library. Federal facilities should contact their account executive to determine the level of each utility's participation.