The Heritage Energy approach to funding focuses on leveraging existing resources while on the outlook for additional grant funding. The principles for leveraging incentives rest on having a historically designated property and following the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. If the property is not yet designated, that is also part of the process.
Through good organization and planning, this route promises the best return on property stakeholder investment for historic properties in the state. These resources listed should be considered for your custom-tailored plan for funding. Even if a property is not eligible to be historically designated, many of the resources below should prove fruitful in supporting reinvestment in Main Street properties.
Colorado State Incentives for Renewable & Efficiency
Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency®
Colorado has invested in many renewable energy resources, such as wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, and small hydroelectric. The state government and utilities offer numerous financial incentives to accelerate the adoption of renewable energy and the development of energy efficiency throughout the state, including energy efficiency rebate programs, solar rebate programs, efficiency loans, and more.
General Energy Funding
EPA Water Sense
Rebates for water efficiency projects such as toilet replacements.
Energy Funding for Main Street Commercial Properties
Colorado Enterprise Zone Vacant Building Tax Credit
The Enterprise Zone Vacant Commercial Building Rehabilitation Tax Credit helps businesses redevelop commercial property and rehabilitate vacant buildings. Businesses can earn a state income tax credit for 25% of rehabilitation expenses, up to $50,000 in tax credit per building.
Colorado Clean Energy Fund Commercial Loans
The Colorado Clean Energy Fund is Colorado’s first “green bank.” It hosts loan products for municipal, commercial, and not-for-profit property owners. For commercial property owners on Main Street, loans are available for as low as $20,000, with only a 2% origination fee due at closing.
C-PACE (Commercial-Property Assessed Clean Energy) Financing
Enables owners of eligible commercial and industrial buildings to finance eligible energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water conservation improvements at low-interest rates assessed on property tax, with a 25-year maximum term. Offers 100% financing of eligible improvements based on guaranteed savings.
Commercial Historic Preservation Tax Credit
Colorado offers a 35% tax credit for rehabilitating qualified historic buildings in rural areas if they are used for income-producing purposes. Expenses must qualify per the program guidelines, and a minimum of $20,000 investment must be made into the property. History Colorado offers guidance and review of your Colorado HP Tax Credit documentation and certifies completed projects to receive the credits.
Federal Historic Tax Credit
For more than three decades, the 20% federal Historic Tax Credit has successfully implemented a national policy to preserve our historic resources. It is an important tool for the redevelopment of historic Main Streets and can be a catalyst for neighborhood and downtown revitalization. It is the federal government's most significant investment toward preserving our historic buildings.
Federal Solar Tax Credits for Businesses
Solar systems placed in service in 2022 or later and begin construction before 2033 are eligible for a 30% Income Tax Credit or a 2.6 ¢/kWh Production Tax Credit if they meet labor requirements issued by the U.S. Treasury Department or are under 1 megawatt in size.
REAP (Rural Energy for America Program)
Federal/USDA grants to rural small businesses for renewable energy systems or energy-efficiency improvements; guaranteed loan financing is also available.
Xcel Business Energy Assessments
Determine the best energy assessment solution for your business size and provide low-cost services customized to your energy needs.
Xcel Small Business Energy Solutions Detail
Reduce operating costs and improve energy efficiency with a free assessment and money back on energy-efficient updates.
Xcel Lighting and Equipment Rebates
Get help with the cost of lighting and equipment while saving energy.
Xcel Solar Rewards
Generate your own electricity and get credit for producing more than your monthly usage.
Energy Funding for Local Governments
Energy/Mineral Impact Assistance Fund Grant
The purpose of the Energy/Mineral Impact Program is to assist political subdivisions that are socially and/or economically impacted by the development, processing, or energy conversion of minerals and mineral fuels. Funds come from the state severance tax on energy and mineral production and a portion of the state's share of royalties paid to the federal government for mining and drilling of minerals and mineral fuels on federally-owned land.
Renewable and Clean Energy Initiative
HB21-1253 makes funding available to local government-proposed projects to support the development and construction of renewable and clean energy infrastructure in all areas of the state, especially in communities in which renewable and clean energy infrastructure is sparse and with consideration to geographical diversity in these awards. This $5 million initiative supports infrastructure implementation projects in the renewable and clean energy field to help reach Colorado’s 2040 100% renewable energy goal.
Colorado Energy Office Energy Performance Contracting
Energy Performance Contracting is a creative model for funding and implementing capital improvement upgrades, which allows entities to use future cost savings to fund projects up to 100% for eligible improvements based on guaranteed savings.
Colorado Clean Energy Fund Commercial Loans
The Colorado Clean Energy Fund is Colorado’s first “green bank.” It hosts loan products for municipal, commercial, and not-for-profit property owners. Interest rates and costs are low.
Microgrids for Community Resilience Program
The Microgrids for Community Resilience grant program (as created by HB22-1013) is designed to build community resilience regarding electric grid disruptions through the development of microgrids. These grants will be awarded to cooperative electric associations and municipally owned utilities to establish microgrid resources for rural communities.
Public Building Electrification Program
The Public Building Electrification Grant is authorized by House Bill 22-1362 to provide public buildings with funding to explore and implement building system electrification measures and infrastructure upgrades required to support these technologies.
Geothermal Energy Grant Program
The Geothermal Energy Grant is authorized by HB 22-1381 to create grant programs that support the use of zero-emission, geothermal energy for electricity generation and space/water heating and cooling in homes, businesses, and communities.
Whole Building Design Guide: Sustainable Preservation
The National Institute of Building Sciences developed a Whole Building Design Guide to foster communication and knowledge-sharing among federal, industry, and academic partners to advance high-performing facilities.
ASHRAE Guideline 34-2019, Energy Guideline for Historic Buildings
This paid document offers insight into the Building Science of historic buildings.
Solar Energy Innovation Network
The Solar Energy Innovation Network helps communities develop transformative approaches to adopting solar energy. Teams develop their ideas in real-world contexts, yielding results that can unlock tomorrow's solar markets.
Resources for Local Governments
Western Colorado Clean Energy Network: Solar development offers both opportunities and challenges to local governments. Here is a curated list of resources for jurisdictions seeking to manage it for maximum community benefit.
Southcentral CHP Technical Assistant Partnership
Are you considering a Combined Heat & Power (CHP) project? The Southcentral CHP Technical Assistance Partnership (CHP TAP) offers complimentary screenings, technical assistance, and expert advice to help determine if CHP is a good fit for your site.
SolSmart provides no-cost technical assistance to help local governments follow national best practices to expand solar energy use in their jurisdictions.
Commercial Property Funding Strategy
Here is a basic approach for utilizing existing resources to maximize return on investment for historic preservation and energy efficiency projects:
- Ideally, the building is historically-designated building (local, state, or federal). If not designated, pursue local, state, or federal designation - depending on the specific incentives you are trying to capture.
- If the building has been vacant for more than two years (before acquisition), then apply for the Colorado Enterprise Zone Vacant Building Tax Credit ($50,000)
- Begin application for Historic Preservation Tax Credits - (35% from state and 20% from the federal government are possible). There are historic tax credit specialists to support the application through final certification for the credits.
- Make a plan to reduce energy consumption (improving the bottom line). Start with an energy audit. See utilities, or conduct an "investment grade" energy audit. Any costs incurred can be rolled into the loan with Colorado Clean Energy Fund, Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE).
- Up-front capital (grant, loan, etc.)
- The Colorado Clean Energy Fund provides access to clean energy loans as low as $20,000. This can provide lower-interest loans for improvements to save money on utility bills (energy/water).
- State Historical Fund grant projects follow an amended path. Grants available as high as $250,000. Priority is given to public/nonprofit organizations.
- Complete the work
- Receive tax credits
- Sell 35% state HTC for ~90% and pay down a Colorado Clean Energy Fund loan or others. Federal historic tax credits can be structured for re-assignment via a five-year process.
- Re-amortize/adjust loan schedule with Colorado Clean Energy Fund to attain lower monthly payments (allowed one time). A lower monthly payment will aid in improving a business's bottom line.
- Energy savings will also offset monthly payments. Enjoy reduced energy bills in perpetuity (this also aids loan repayment)