California Solar Initiative: The Complete List of Rebates and Tax Credits
Are you trying to figure out whether solar for your home makes sense or not?
If you’re looking for help in finding the true cost of going solar you’ll love this guide.
Most people that look into solar know about the Federal Tax Rebate (30%), but did you know that there are more than 100 different solar tax credits, rebates and incentives in the State of California?
In fact, there are so many solar incentives that many of the California solar installation companies you encounter won’t even know about the incentives particular to your area… and if you don’t know about them, you could miss out on thousands of dollars in rebates.
The California Solar Initiative’s rebates or other incentives on solar panels on your home push you over the edge between solar being a pretty good deal or being a total, complete, epic no-brainer.
What about in your area? The guide is in alphabetical order, so you may simply read down the list until you find the city, county or region you live in and get the info you need to make the decision.
1) California Solar Incentives By City
Anaheim – Solar PV Buy Down Program
Like many programs, Anaheim Public Utilities has incentive programs that open and close. The current program has a 2 week application window, January 15th to January 29th, 2015 was the last go around and offered a $1.15 per watt rebate.
Azusa – Azusa Light & Water Solar Partnership Program
The City of Azusa has a waiting list for the next time the program opens. Rebates during the last go around were $1.03 per watt.
Burbank – Solar Support Program
Burbank Water and Power has a solar rebate program that next opens July 2015.
Rebates were $.96 per watt on the most recent go-around.
The Corona Department of Water & Power currently offers a $.98 per watt discount.
The maximum credit available is $2,940 (for a 3kW system) but the bummer is that most of Corona is actually served by Southern California Edison, with only 3.4% of Corona actually served by the Corona Department of Water and Power.
Glendale starts taking applications again on July 15, 2015. Solar rebates in Glendale sell faster than hotcakes, because they are huge. The most recent solar rebates in Glendale were $1.61 per watt. Keep in mind, the average solar installation costs about $4 per watt, so if you take off $1.61 you’re looking at $2.39 per watt, before Federal Tax Credits. After all incentives are taken into account, many Glendale residents see cost per installed watt for solar PV below $2 – which is why those rebates are snapped up very quickly.
Gridley PV Buy Down
Gridley’s last buy down was 2012-2013 and the website hasn’t been updated in a while. As an added bonus, extra bonus points if you’ve ever heard of Gridley.
Healdsburg PV Incentive Program
The city of Healdsburg does something completely different than most cities by not only having a Solar PV program, but putting out information in English that normal people can actually understand.
Hercules PV Rebate Program
While many resources on the web talk about the Hercules PV Rebate Program, it actually does not exist anymore, since Hercules Municipal Utility was sold in 2014 to Pacific Gas and Electric.
Imperial PV Solutions Rebate Program
Customers of the Imperial Irrigation District see rebates of $.50 per watt. Unlike most rebate programs, there is actually less demand for residential solar PV in the area than is needed to take down all the funds that have been set aside.
Lodi PV Rebate Program
Residents of Lodi got rebates from the City of Lodi Electric Utility for going solar in 2014 of $1.80 per watt, up to $7,000 and not to exceed 50% of total system cost. When the next rebates go live, if the program gets oversubscribed (which, it probably will) the rebates go into a lottery.
If you live in Lodi and you haven’t gone solar yet, you’re missing out on some epic good value.
At $1.50 per watt, Lompoc residents get a serious rebate for going solar.
Los Angeles Solar Incentive Program and Feed In Tariff Program
LADWP customers formerly had very, very large rebates available, but as the steps go higher, the opportunity is dwindling – though at $.40 per watt the current rebate levels are still pretty good.
Customers of Los Angeles’ Department of Water and Power also have the opportunity to sell any extra electricity generated back to LADWP at a rate of up to 17 cents per Kilowatt Hour. At the present time, your system has to be 30 kW or larger in order to sell energy back, which is a pretty large system, but residents with ample real estate or roof space may want to take advantage of this opportunity.
Merced Irrigation District Solar PV Buydown Program
Residents of Merced in 2014 that were lucky enough to get in on the rebates got $1.50 per watt solar rebates up to the first 3Kw ($4,500). A new funding tranche was released April 1, 2015.
Palo Alto – PV Rebates and Feed in Tariff Program
The city of Palo Alto has good incentives for rooftop solar, having both hefty rebates and feed in tariffs available. Most recently rebates were $.80 per watt, and while the current incentives are fully subscribed, that means that now is the time to get on the wait list.
Customers within the City of Palo Alto also have the opportunity to sell energy generated by solar installations to the city at a price of 16.5 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) for 20 years.
Pasadena Water & Power – Solar Power Installation Rebate and Performance Based Incentives
If you use Pasadena Water & Power as your utility, current rebates are $.85/watt, and for the first five years after installation you will receive $.129 per kWh generated.
Plumas, Sierra, Lassen, Washoe Counties – Plumas Sierra REC PV Rebate Program
Within these counties, the 2015 applications are being accepted now, at $1.68 per watt rebates, up to $6,000.
Richmond – Feed In Tariff Program
Citizens of the city of Richmond can take advantage of the opportunity to sell excess power to Marin County, detailed in the County section below.
Riverside Public Utilities
Live in Riverside? Starting July 1, 2015 the rebate program reopens, offering a $.50 per watt rebate – with no cap on max system size.
Roseville Electric’s program is currently open, but incentive levels have dropped to step 10 – just $.24 per watt. The only reason to go solar in Roseville now is to like, save the planet, or maybe not pay egregious rates in the summertime or something.
San Francisco – Solar Energy Incentive Program
The city of San Francisco has some of the most aggressive solar incentives in the U.S. Depending on the size of the system you choose, you are eligible for $500 to $2,800 in incentives, PLUS $250 to $700 if you use a city installer, PLUS $2,000 to $7,000 if you can qualify for “low income.” Incentives of up to $10,500 can make solar pretty cheap.
Citizens of the city of San Pablo can take advantage of the opportunity to sell excess power to Marin County, detailed in the County section below.
Santa Clara – Silicon Valley Power
Silicon Valley power offers residents one of the best incentives in the state, at $1.50 per watt.
Santa Monica Builder Permit Fee Waiver for Solar Projects
The city of Santa Monica has a building permit fee waiver for solar projects. Many cities in California have permit fees of up to $500. Don’t trip as you are running to line up for this one.
Susanville – Lassen Municipal Utility District’s PV Rebate Program
If you live anywhere within Lassen MUD, solar is pretty much almost free. At a rebate of $2.80 per watt.
Truckee Donner PUD – Photovoltaic Buy Down Program
There’s lots of reasons not to live in Truckee, but $2.55 per watt rebates for solar is not one of them. Think of it as a consolation prize.
Ukiah Utilities PV Buy down Program
Ukiah’s rebate program is written in Chinese Algebra, anyone who can decode it, please leave a comment.
Solar Incentives in California by County
Lassen County – PV Rebate Program
Residents of Lassen County are served by the Lassen Municipal Utility district, which offers an epic sounding $2.80 per watt rebate on solar for the first 4kW- but only up to $4,000, so the rebate sounds better than it really is, as in practice you only get the rebate on the first 1.4 kilowatts.
Marin County – Feed in Tariff Program
Citizens of Marin County can sell back any excess power to the County – from solar, wind, geothermal, or biomass.
You have to dig, but resources exist that will show you how much you can get for renewable energy in Marin County.
San Diego County – Green Building Program
San Diego County residents going solar can take advantage of the Green Building Program, whereby the County will waive the building permit and plan check fee, meaning additional savings of about $500.
Statewide Solar Incentives for California
California Energy Commission – New Solar Homes
If you’re building a new home in California, take advantage of this. Incentives are up to 50%, and up to 75% for affordable housing tracts.
The newest information on the program is available here.
California Solar Initiative – Multi-Family Affordable Housing (MASH) and Single Family Affordable Housing (SASH)
This program opens and closes at different times of the year, so if you are likely to qualify and it is not currently open, you should get on the wait list. This is a spectacular program if you qualify, since the most recent incentives ranged from $1.90 to $2.90 per watt.
Considering solar PV costs around $5 per watt installed, that’s one giant discount.
Figuring out who qualifies for MASH and SASH is a little complex, but the California Solar Initiative Handbook has a breakdown on page 21.
These programs supposedly end December 31, 2015.
California Solar Initiative – General PV Rebates
CSI distributed funds years ago to the major utilities to incentivize people to go solar – back when PV cost $9+ a watt installed large incentives were necessary to make solar feasible. Since solar is feasible now, there are periodically rebates, though when available they are smaller.
Whether there are rebates available to you and when is a moving target and varies by who your utility company is, but you can check on that at the Go Solar California Website.
California Solar Initiative – Thermal/Solar Water Heating
Not quite as spectacular as the savings from Solar PV, but still important is solar water and pool heating.
Incentives vary based on whether you are displacing natural gas or electricity and, much like the PV Incentives, goes in “steps” – the longer you wait, the less your rebates and they will eventually be exhausted.
PACE, which stands for Property Assessed Clean Energy, allows homeowners to finance a solar system upfront with little or no down payment, regardless of your credit score, and pay the money back over 20 years through property tax assessments.
Unfortunately, while the PACE program sounds good in theory, the rules for it were originally written so that if you don’t pay your mortgage, the solar panels get paid off before your lender does, forcing lenders to refuse to lend on any home with PACE financing.
In order to make PACE viable, a some regions in California have set aside reserves in the event of defaults. The list of areas with PACE financing is available here.
Please inform us HERE on any updates.