Californians have been long time advocates for solar power. So much so, California has become the nation’s pioneer and leader when it comes to “going solar”. Other states look to California to see the trail that’s been blazed with their California Solar Initiative. They want to catch up, and they are following suit.
Governor Jerry Brown passed a law that requires California to get 33 percent of its power from renewable energy by 2020. No wonder the incentives from California's utilities have been so great. Depending on your utility company, however, they may be running out quickly.
Still, all Californians can take advantage of the 30% Federal Tax Credit, which will allow you to recoup 30% of your equipment AND installation costs for an unlimited amount.
Customers of PG&E, SDG&E and SCE: It's time to act. Hopefully it's not too late. Funding from the California Solar Initiative, which was was set up to help you go solar is running out.
What kinds of projects are eligible for the California Solar Incentive (CSI)?
Under the CSI, solar power systems installed on existing homes, as well as existing and new commercial, industrial, government, non-profit, and agricultural properties within the service territories are eligible for funding.
How does the California Solar Incentive (CSI) work?
Rebates and performance-based Incentives are set up to decrease as time goes on in 10 steps.
They started out at $2.00 per watt, but are now on the 8th, 9th and 10th steps.
For Pacific Power Customers
- Look up current incentive step here.
- Read how to get started here.
Some small and not so small utility companies have some really large rebates
If you’re not a SDG&E, PG&E, Pacific Power or SCE customer, you still have great rebates and incentives. For the remaining 32 percent of California, utility solar programs are often modeled after the CSI, but their rebates and incentive amounts vary greatly--anywhere from $0.20 per watt to $3.80 per watt.
While some utility companies are currently offering great rebates, others have a waiting period are out of funding for the time being. We've put together some of the best rebates below. Is your utility company here? If not be sure to check here, and don't forget the Federal Tax Credit that can be applied to 30% of your installed costs.
For companies like Redding Electric, whose funding has been exhausted through 2015, you can still take advantage of the 30% Federal Tax Credit. Find out what your utility company is offering on this database of incentives.
If you combine the 30 percent Federal Tax Credit with state, local, and utility rebates, and a reduced power bill for the next 25 to 40 years, investing in grid tied solar is more affordable than you might think. The Federal Tax Credit can also be applied to offgrid systems, and even back up systems if you add solar panels to them.
Are there any local incentives in your area? You’ll want to check. San Diego, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Santa Monica all waive permit fees or expedite permits for any “green” projects. San Francisco and Marin County both have rebates programs. Marin County also has its own performance based incentive.
California law requires utility companies to offer a net metering program to their customers. A net metering program allows an owner of a gridtied solar power system to sell excess power their renewable power system generates back to the utility company for credit on their power bill. At the end of a 12 month period, a customer can choose to roll over credit or receive a payment. Read more here.
The California Revenue and Taxation Code allows a property tax exclusion for 100 percent of new photovoltaic solar energy systems installed between January 1, 1999, and December 31, 2016. System owners should contact the applicable county assessor's office for further information. Click here for a listing of County Assessor offices in California, and here for a letter to the assessor that further clarifies the terms of the exclusion. Read more here.
- California Solar Initiative applies to SDG&E, PGE and SCE customers and represents 68 percent of California's power usage.
- The remainder of the utility companies have wide ranging rebates and incentives worth checking out.
- Rebates and incentives generally diminish over time, so it's best to act quickly.
- Property tax exclusions are available.
- The 30 Percent Federal Tax credit can be combined with any California incentives (local or otherwise) to compensate for your solar investment.
- Net metering is offered in the state of California.