With solar installations and solar financing options continuing to grow in the state, Colorado State University Extension has developed an online calculator that provides costs and benefits for those considering taking the leap. The calculator goes beyond existing estimators by allowing for rooftop or ground mount arrays, loan interest rates, monthly lease payments, utility incentives, maintenance, and other realistic inputs to be analyzed. The calculator also provides numerous default values to allow for simpler use as desired. Results include costs, savings, payback, return-on-investment, a 20-year cash flow statement, and an optional comparison of purchasing versus leasing a system.
In addition to the calculator, Extension has also produced an interactive online map of solar paybacks in rural Colorado. This tool allows individuals to get see and compare estimates of solar costs, benefits, incentives, and payback periods for all 22 rural electric cooperative service territories in the state. These tools have been developed as part of CSU Extension’s ‘Your Energy Colorado’ program, which facilitates informed decisions around sustainable energy. The solar calculator is located at http://solarcalc.colostate.edu while the interactive solar payback map is located at http://yourenergy.extension.colostate.edu/maps.