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County suspending Eco-Build solar rebates

Contact: Adam Palmer, Environmental Policy Planner, 970-328-8734 or

Eagle County is announcing the suspension of its solar rebate program due to decreasing revenues in the Eco-Build Fund, the dedicated source from which rebates were paid. The program allowed homeowners to apply for rebates from the county for installing residential solar energy systems.

The Eagle County Efficient Building Code, or Eco-Build, was adopted by the county in 2006 to promote construction of durable, energy efficient structures that conserve natural resources, promote the efficient use of building materials, and improve indoor air quality for occupants. The solar rebate program was funded through pay-in-lieu fees collected from new construction or substantial remodels that do not meet minimum efficiency standards as outlined in the Eco-Build regulations.

In addition to solar rebates, the Eco-Build fund has been used to finance a “community grant” program supporting projects such as efficiency improvements at the WECMRD Fieldhouse, Habitat for Humanity LEED certification, and the Walking Mountains LEED Platinum campus in Avon. Since its inception, the Eco-Build Fund has averaged approximately $200,000 per year in collections, peaking in 2009 at over $300,000. The money is deposited to a restricted fund that can only be used for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in Eagle County. However, construction activity in Eagle County has decreased significantly over the past couple of years and at the same time, energy efficient construction practices have increased. As of the end of the September 2011, the fund had collected approximately $16,000.

To-date, over 200 rebates had been awarded through the program. According to Adam Palmer, environmental policy planner for Eagle County, the volume illustrates the community’s commitment to development of local renewable energy. “While we realize the suspension of the program is disappointing for some, the good news is there are still plenty of options for those wishing to take advantage of clean energy,” said Palmer. “When Eagle County first created the Eco-Build fund, installed costs were $10 per watt and I could count the number of solar energy systems in the county on two hands. Now, with installed costs around $5 per watt, new community-owned solar options, and the availability of other rebates and incentives, we will continue to see solar installations increase in the area.” he said.

The suspension plan for the solar rebate program includes extending rebates to those already on the reservation list. Moving forward, the Eco-Build fund will be used to support community demonstration projects on a case-by-case basis as money is available. For more information, contact Palmer at 970-328-8734.