Tapping the power of the sun: Solar systems offer benefits

Mike Moran
Business Times

Solar panels offer many advantages, particular in areas like the Grand Valley where the sun shines most of the year. (Photo courtesy Blu-Sky Solar)

Solar power continues to move forward across the nation. And in areas where the sun shines most of the year, the technology can be particularly appealing. Such is the case in Colorado and the Grand Valley.

“We provide quality products and services,” said Brooke Gonzales, co-owner of Blu-Sky Solar in Grand Junction.

Gonzales said the company provides customers what they need and can afford — and no more. “We’re not going to sell them a system they don’t want,” she said. “And we don’t sell to anyone who can’t afford it.”

The question of affordability can be confusing to some consumers, as they hear about various benefits that include rebates, federal tax incentives and the purchase of solar power from large utility companies.

The federal government offers a tax credit of 30 percent of the cost of a solar system, with no upper limit on the retail price. The credit is currently scheduled to end by 2017. Other energy efficiency tax credits offered for improved insulation and tightly sealed windows and doors are set to expire at the end of this year.

Because the price of systems could change depending on tax laws and supply and demand issues, the current market offer consumers a good opportunity. And owners of solar systems can profit from selling excess power to utilities “Now’s the time to lock in your rates,” Gonzales said.

Gonzales said Blu-Sky Solar builds long-term relationships with customers by offering comprehensive maintenance. The company services solar panels, cleans them and removes snow when necessary.

It’s difficult to tell potential customers how much a system might cost and how much they might save on their energy bills. There are too many variables, Gonzales said.

Factors such as the size of a home and finance charges enter into the equation.

“We do give free estimates,” she said, enabling potential customers to get a better handle on the potential benefits of solar.

Solar power is used not only for homes and businesses in Western Colorado, but also energy companies that extract fuels for traditional energy production.

“We do utilize solar power on our own production units,” said Susan Alvillar, community affairs representative for Williams Production.
Solar panels on the units are visible from Interstate Highway 70 in Garfield County. The units sit near natural gas drilling rigs operated by Williams.

Gonzales said she worked to promote Blu-Sky Solar during the weekly farmer’s market in downtown Grand Junction and hopes to continue to spread the word through good customer service.