Frequently Asked Questions
What is roofless solar?

Roofless solar enables you to own solar panels in a centralized, community-based array. As your panels produce clean electricity, you receive credits directly on your monthly Black Hills Energy electric bills for the power produced. By owning a solar power system in the roofless solar array, you can reduce or eliminate your electric bills, protect against rising prices, and experience monthly savings in place of a monthly expense...all without changing your home.

Who can participate?
Black Hills Energy Roofless Solar is available to all Black Hills Energy customers in the following counties in the state of Colorado: Pueblo, Custer, Fremont, Teller, El Paso, Crowley, and Otero.
What am I purchasing?
You are purchasing and owning specific solar panels that will be mounted in a community array that is operated and maintained by Clean Energy Collective.
What do I get for participating?
As a panel-owner, you will receive monthly bill credits for the power produced and a portion of the quarterly Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) payments.
How much does it cost?
After you receive the Federal Tax Credit (-30%), the effective cost per panel will be $345. The initial purchase price is $493 per panel.
Do I need to own a home or building to participate?
No. If you have an electric bill with Black Hills Energy, you can receive credits for the power produced.
Is my roofless solar system eligible for the IRS federal tax rebate known as the Solar Investment Tax Credit?
Yes. Roofless solar is eligible for all the same federal incentives as on-site/rooftop solar. You will receive 30% of the gross price as a credit against your federal taxes. Your net effective cost will be just $3.54/watt or $345/panel.
Do I have to file with the IRS for the tax credit?
Yes. Customers will receive the tax credit on the tax return for the year in which their solar was placed in service.
Will I have to pay additional fees in the future?
No. All of the insurance, management and maintenance for the system are included in the initial sales price and the ongoing Operations & Maintenance (O&M) program. A portion of your initial purchase price is placed into an O&M trust account. In addition, a portion of the solar array's monthly Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) will be credited by Black Hills Energy to the O&M trust account. Funds held in the trust account may only be used to ensure the array is producing optimally throughout its lifetime.
Can I get more panels later?
Absolutely, provided there are panels still available. You can increase the size of your system up to the maximum determined by Black Hills Energy sizing rules. Your maximum eligible system size will be based on your historical electrical usage patterns, and can be easily provided by a Clean Energy Collective Solar Specialist.
What happens if I move?
You have several options, including:
  • Transfer your credits to your new Black Hills Energy account with just a phone call
  • Resell your panels with your home or separately
  • Donate your ownership to a local non-profit
  • Gift your system to any eligible Black Hills Energy customer
How is the credit to my monthly utility bill determined?
Each month, your electric bill will be credited for the power produced by your panels in the previous month at an initial $0.1053/kWh. This credit rate adjusts annually to match the price of energy.
How are my quarterly REC payments calculated?
Each quarter, CEC customers will receive a Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) payment. This payment is based upon the production from their system in the community solar array and the REC payment rate is $35.22/MWh. A portion of the REC payment is retained in the O&M trust fund, while the remainder comes to you via check.
How are ongoing maintenance expenses addressed?
Operation and Maintenance (O&M) funds are held in an O&M trust account and utilized as needed. These funds originate from a portion of the initial sales price and are sustained by the ongoing O&M program. The ongoing O&M program is a portion of the solar array's Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), credited by Black Hills Energy. Funds held in the trust account may only be used to ensure the array is producing optimally throughout its lifetime.
Who owns the energy/electricity produced?
As a CEC customer and owner of your solar panels, you will own the rights to the power that your panels produce. Black Hills Energy has agreed to buy all the energy produced by your system for 20 years.
How much can I expect to save in the first year? Over the system's lifetime?
Your monthly bill credits are determined by how many panels you own and the solar array's production. Production will vary from month to month. CEC estimates that one panel will produce approximately $21.62 in bill savings over the first year, representing a 6.27% initial rate of payback, and up to $538 in total savings over the projected lifetime.
When will my system have paid for itself?
The CEC estimates that your system will pay for itself in 13.9 years.
What is the "lifetime" of the system?
Thanks to our Operation and Maintenance Program, our equipment will last longer and produce more power than the average rooftop PV system. Your system is designed, built and funded for an expected lifetime of up to 20 years. As a system owner, you own all the power output for as long as it remains active.
What happens to my bill credit rate if energy prices go up?
Your bill credit rate adjusts annually based on market energy prices.
How can I monitor my system's performance?
As a CEC customer, you can log on to your My Own Clean Energy account via the Clean Energy Collective website and its mobile version. There you can see your system's details, review your customer documents, and access real-time information about your portion of the array's production, bill credits and positive environmental impact.
What are my options for system payment?
CEC accepts cash, check, and credit card.
What are the financial benefits of the program?
After you receive the Federal Tax Credit (-30%), the effective cost per panel will be $345. Over the life of the program, 20 years, each panel will produce an estimated $538 in bill credits; that’s a 156% payback!
Do I have to maintain the panels myself?
No! Clean Energy Collective handles all operations and maintenance of the roofless solar array. In maintaining the system, we regularly clean and service the array, file any necessary claims against equipment warranties, and replace otherwise damaged equipment (covered by insurance on the array). All maintenance, service, cleaning, and insurance is funded by the Operation and Maintenance trust account, held in the array's name. This account is funded by both a portion of the initial price and a portion of the monthly savings generated. This continues over the system's life, ensuring that the array is the primary ongoing funding source for its own upkeep.
How is Black Hills Energy Roofless Solar different from a traditional onsite system?
With CEC, panels are located in a “roofless” community array on the utility's grid. The utility uses the electricity produced by the commercial-scale array, which improves the utility's fuel mix by decreasing its dependency on fossil fuels. The utility then credits each participating member's monthly electric bill for the power produced by their panels. As such, CEC's roofless arrays enable any eligible Black Hills Energy customer to benefit from clean solar power, regardless of the customer's ability to install solar at their service address. Everyone is able to get all of the benefits of solar without any equipment on the rooftop or modifications to property. CEC's optimally situated and fully maintained solar solution presents substantial advantages over traditional solar systems. CEC's arrays are situated on open ground (void of shading) and they are maintained, cleaned, and serviced to ensure optimal output, resulting in greater savings and better environmental impact. This greater benefit is delivered by a system with a low one-time price that includes commercial economies of scale savings and the inclusion of available rebates, discounts and credits. With greater power production and lower costs, CEC customers can experience the best savings available - all while enjoying the most accessible, flexible and hassle-free clean energy available!
How much solar can I buy?
Systems are available from a minimum of 1 kW (11 panels) up to a system size that will produce 120% of your average annual electric usage in kilowatt-hours. Contact a CEC Solar Specialist to determine the best option for you!