Builders and homeowners in Colorado will now have greater motivation to install solar thermal systems for water heating on their homes. On May 12, the Colorado General Assembly passed a bill to provide the same financial incentives for solar thermal installations in residential and commercial buildings as those currently provided for solar photovoltaic systems in the state. 

Not only will passage of the bill help grow Colorado's green industry and create jobs, it also will help homeowners and other building owners reduce carbon emissions and save money, proponents say. According to Beth Hart, executive director of the Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association (CoSEIA), financial incentives for the solar electric industry have produced 1,300% industry growth since 2005. CoSEIA predicts the solar thermal incentives bill will generate additional growth.

The bill—which amends Colorado State statute 31-20-101.3 regarding incentives for installation of renewable energy fixtures and definitions—extends the power of municipalities to offer tax credits or rebates for the installation of renewable energy products, systems, fixtures, or related devices to include those that generate solar thermal energy. The original language of the statute covered only systems or products that generate electricity, such as photovoltaics, small wind, biomass, or geothermal systems.

Colorado Governor Bill Ritter Jr., is expected to sign the passed bill this week. Stimulating growth in the state's "New Energy Economy" has been one of Gov. Ritter's primary objectives, and he has signed more than 30 bills since 2007.

Stephani L. Miller is Associate Web Editor for Custom Home and residential architect.