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Solar Contractor Resources

Contractor installing solar

Fort Collins Utilities' Residential Solar Rebate Program created the Participating Solar Contractors Network to ensure consistent positive customer experience and support their decision-making with complete proposals and pricing details in a consistent, industry-accepted format.  

Only active Participating Solar Contractors may submit solar PV projects for the Residential Solar Rebate Program. In order to be eligible, a project must be sold, designed and installed by active Participating Solar Contractors. Join the network if you're not already participating! 

Solar PV and solar thermal system installers must register as a specialized trade contractor with Building Services to install solar systems in Fort Collins. Building Services requires a building permit application for every solar and/or battery storage installation.   

Every customer should receive the following documents with a proposal for a solar PV project: 

At a minimum, the customer must receive these documents with both the initial and final proposals for a project. 

Solar Installation Project Resources

Rebate Eligibility Requirements

  • Must be a Fort Collins Utilities electric customer 
  • Solar PV Systems must be sold, designed and installed by a Participating Solar Contractor (no subcontracting outside the Participating Solar Contractor Network) 
  • The PV system must be sized greater than 500 watts and less than the capacity to provide 120 percent of average annual energy use over the previous 24 months. 
  • Systems must meet Utilities Interconnection Standards
  • Equipment must be new and UL listed and named on the eligible equipment list
  • The system cannot be shaded between 9 a.m.-3 p.m. If questionable, the applicant must submit shading analysis (check with your solar contractor). 
  • Customer agrees to manage trees and other potential shading sources to prevent shading from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. 
  • System must achieve a minimum of 4,100 kWh annual output (estimated) in order to receive full $1500 rebate amount.
  • The system must be installed within six months of the rebate reservation letter. 
  • Customers with homes built before 2005 must schedule an Efficiency Works' Home Audit or an audit by a certified energy auditor within six months of receipt of the rebate reservation letter in order to receive the rebate. For newer homes, audits may be optional. 

 Solar Rebate Application 

  • Solar contractor will submit the Distributed Energy Interconnect Application, along with supporting documents as outlined in the application.  
  • The customer must review and acknowledge Fort Collins Utilities' interconnection and policies on the application signature page. 

Interconnection for Non-Rebated Projects

For projects that do not seek or qualify for a solar rebate, contractors should complete the Distributed Energy Interconnect Application, but do not complete the authorizations in the Solar Rebate portion of the Signature Page. Submit completed applications along with all required materials on the Instructions tab of the application by email to PGFjbGFzcz0=">c29sYXItcmViYXRlc0BmY2dvdi5jb20=

Project Requirements: 

  • PV system must be sized greater than 500 watts and less than the capacity to provide 120 percent of average annual energy use over previous 24 months. 
  • Systems must meet Utilities Interconnection Standards
  • Equipment must be new and UL listed and named on the eligible equipment list

 

These are the basic steps to participate in the Solar Rebate Program: 

  1. Contractor completes the Utilities interconnection application and submits all required documents.  Installation work cannot begin without approval from Fort Collins Utilities.  
  2. Contractor obtains building permit from Building Services. Work cannot being without a paid permit.  
  3. Install solar PV system within six months of the date the rebate reservation is issued.   
  4. (Residential ONLY) Customer schedules or provides evidence of an Efficiency Works Homes energy audit if the home was built prior to January 1, 2005. Schedule an audit.  (This requirement currently suspended due to COVID-19)  
  5. Schedule and complete final building inspection through Building Services.  
  6. Utilities tests system to validate proper system performance.  
  7. Rebate payment will be issued by check approximately six weeks after final Utilities system test. 

Typical solar PV application process details for contractors

Tracking your application

Contractors and customers can use the Fort Collins Citizen Access Portal to track a building application with the Building Department using the site address.  

Using a Loan?   

If your customer is obtaining solar financing using the Epic Loan or Elevations Energy Loan, the process includes a few more steps:  

  1. Consider a home energy assessment ($60) (This requirement currently suspended due to COVID-19) 
  2. Customer selects the contractor 
  3. Customer completes the Epic Loan application with fees (or Elevations Energy Loan application) 
  4. Lender confirms customer eligibility and sends Loan Approval form to Utilities  
  5. Lender notifies homeowner to contact the contractor with loan pre-approval and to submit solar application materials to Utilities (PGFjbGFzcz0=">c29sYXItcmViYXRlc0BmY2dvdi5jb20=)  
  6. Solar Contractor submits all required interconnection documents to Utilities (PGFjbGFzcz0=">c29sYXItcmViYXRlc0BmY2dvdi5jb20=) and the building permit application to Building Services.  
  7. Utilities solar approver reviews project, issues rebate reservation letter, and completes the loan approval form to send to Lender  
  8. Building permit submitted to Building Services (review fee required). Building Services will notify contractor when permit review is completed.  
  9. Lender notifies customer that project is approved, and contractor may begin 
  10. Contractor picks up building permit and pays fees. 
  11. Construction occurs 
  12. Building Services inspection is performed 
  13. Utilities testing, inspection and PTO is issued 
  14. Contractor submits Lien Waiver & Completion of Work affidavit to Lender along with final project invoice  
  15. Lender sends final loan approval form to solar program approver with final invoice  
  16. Solar approver completes final loan approval form and returns to Lender 
  17. Lender closes loan with customer and releases loan proceeds to contractor / customer 

Apply to Join the Network

Residential solar PV contractors qualify to join the Participating Solar Contractors Network by agreeing to conduct their business as described in the Participating Solar Contractor Guide and in accordance with best practice guidelines outlined in the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) Code of Business, and by adopting the use of standardized SEIA proposal disclosures.  

Get Registered as a Participating Solar Contractor

  1. Review the Participating Solar Contractor Guide
  2. Complete the Participating Solar Contractor Agreement
  3. Submit the signed Agreement with license information to PGFjbGFzcz0= ">c29sYXItcmViYXRlc0BmY2dvdi5jb20= 
  4. Attend a Participating Solar Contractor Network orientation 

Contractors shall identify their business role(s) to Fort Collins Utilities by applying to participate in this Network as one or more of the following:   

  • Solar PV systems sales 
  • Solar PV system design  
  • Solar PV system installation 

Only customers who work with active Participating Solar Contractors for the sale, design and installation of their solar PV project are eligible for the Residential Solar Rebate. Subcontracting outside the Participating Solar Contractor Network is not allowed for projects receiving rebates or incentives. 

Contact us to arrange an orientation: 

Todd Musci, Program Specialist
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970-224-6157  

Leland Keller, Energy Services Engineer  
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970-221-6857  

See the current listing of Participating Solar Contractors.

Code Resources for Distributed Energy Projects

All solar photovoltaic (PV) and electrical energy storage systems (ESS) interconnected to the customer electric service panel are connected to the Fort Collins Utilities distribution system as parallel generation resources and therefore must comply with Fort Collins' Interconnection Standards.

Prior to initiating any construction activity, the customer or installation contractor must:

  1. Submit a completed Distributed Energy Interconnection application package and receive approval for interconnection from Utilities
  2. Pay for and pick up a building permit for the installation.

See Fort Collins Building Department Codes page for current codes enforced for solar PV and battery installations. Colorado will adopt NEC 2020 in August 2020.

Systems with solar PV and / or batteries connected to a building’s electrical system (and thus the electric distribution grid) are required to have:

  • One manually operated, lockable, AC disconnect switch with a visual break must be readily accessible at all times by FCU personnel on the outside of the building to allow the DER system to be disconnected from the grid safely during maintenance or outage conditions. The disconnect shall be located next to the FCU electric meter and rated for the voltage and fault current requirements of the DER system.
  • It is recommended that the disconnect be positioned so that it also serves to isolate any future installation of energy storage or electric vehicle charging equipment from the grid.

NEC 2020 will require:

  • Energy storage systems are required to have a readily accessible and lockable disconnect located within sight of the ESS, or as close as practicable. This disconnect isolates the energy storage from sources and loads in the building. (NEC 706.15)
  • For one and two-family dwellings ONLY, a lockable disconnect which isolates the ESS or its remote control shall be located outside the building, grouped with the AC disconnect that isolates the house from the grid. (NEC 706.15 A, 230.70, 230.85)

Source: Solar Energy International, copyright 2019 Solar Energy International, used with permission

Placard Requirements:

Permanent placards are required by NEC 110, 480, 690 and 705, 706 and potentially other codes which may apply. NEC 2020 provides updates to placard requirements.

Codes and standards relevant to energy storage system installations include:

  • International Residential Code (2018), R327 addresses installation location, listing and labeling in accordance with UL9540 and UL1741, ventilation of flammable gasses and protection from vehicle impact.
  • NFPA 70 (National Electric Code) addresses installation and placard requirements, also referencing UL9540 and UL715.41
    • NEC Article 110.21(B) Field-Applied Hazard Markings requires signs or labels to warn of hazards, be permanently affixed, not hand-written, and of sufficient durability to withstand the environment involved. ANSI Z535.4-2011 provides guidelines for design and durability of signs and labels on electrical equipment.
    • NEC Article 480
    • NEC Article 690
    • NEC Article 706
      • 11 requires a permanent plaque or directory denoting all electric power sources on the premises be installed at each service equipment location and at locations of all electric power production sources capable of being interconnected. Labels shall be in accordance with NEC 110.21(B)
    • NFPA 855, Standard for the Installation of Energy Storage Systems
      • Per 1.3.2, ESS installed in one-and two-family dwellings and townhouse units shall only comply with Chapter 15
    • For commercial buildings, 2018 International Fire Code, Sec 1206.2 lists compliance requirements for battery systems having capacities which exceed the values shown in in Table 1206.2:

Table 1206.2: Battery Storage System Threshold Quantities for Commercial Buildings

Battery Technology

Threshold Capacitya

Flow batteriesb

20 kWh

Lead acid, all types

70 kWh

Lithium, all types

20 kWh

Nickel cadmium (Ni-Cd)

70 kWh

Sodium, all types

20 kWhc

Other battery technologies

10 kWh

Notes:

a. For batteries rated in amp-hours, kWh shall equal rated voltage multiplied by amp-hour rating divided by 1000.

b. Shall include vanadium, zinc-bromide, polysulfide-bromide, and other flowing electrolyte-type technologies.

c. 70 kWh for sodium-ion technologies.

Design Configurations

Acceptable system configurations have been outlined by Fort Collins Light and Power for five unique inverter connected DER configurations including storage:  

  1. AC-coupled with no backed up loads 
  2. DC-coupled with no backed up loads 
  3. AC-coupled with backed up loads, generation operable during backup 
  4. AC-coupled with backed up loads, generation not operable during backup 
  5. DC-coupled with backed up loads 

View Approved Storage System Designs