Ways to Save

There are a variety of rebates, programs and financial options for making solar more affordable.

The California Solar Initiative (CSI)

The California Solar Initiative (CSI) offers cash back for installing a qualified PV system on your home.  Your rebate is based on the expected performance of your new system. Incentives or rebates are paid in "steps" which means that as more systems are installed available rebate dollars decrease.  The earlier you apply the more rebate dollars you may be eligible to receive.  

How to Apply

The Center for Sustainable Energy (CSE) is designated as the solar program administrator in SDG&E’s service area for existing residential homes and businesses. The Center's web site offers solar educational materials as well as workshops and events for homeowners and business owners interested in installing PV systems.

The New Solar Homes Partnership (NSHP)

As part of the California Solar Initiative, NSHP provides financial incentives and other support to home builders, encouraging the construction of new, energy-efficient solar homes.

Beginning 9/1/14, the Energy Commission will become the sole program administrator for the New Solar Homes Partnership program in PG&E, SCE, and SDG&E service territories. Energy Commission staff will work closely with each of the utilities to ensure a smooth transition with as little program disruption as possible.

The following are key dates for the transition:

  • 8/1/2014: New reservation applications and payment claims submitted by mail must be sent to the Energy Commission at the address identified on the GoSolar California website. Applicants are still encouraged to submit reservation applications and payment claims using the online application tool, when possible.
  • 9/1/2014: The Energy Commission becomes the sole administrator of the NSHP program. All documents and inquiries should be directed to the Energy Commission:
    • 1-844-217-4925

The utilities will continue to work with stakeholders on reservation applications and payment claims that were previously submitted and are currently under review. All new inquiries should be directed to the Energy Commission Renewables Call Center:

  • Renewable@energy.ca.gov
  • 1-844-217-4925

CSI general market program

This California Solar Initiative rebate program funds solar on existing homes, existing or new commercial, agricultural, government and non-profit buildings. This program funds both solar photovoltaics (PV), as well as other solar thermal generating technologies.

How to Apply

Program Administrator: CSE

Solar Water Heating or CSI-Thermal program

This CSI solar hot water rebate program funds solar hot water (solar thermal systems) on homes and businesses.

How to Apply

Program Administrator: CSE

Single-family Affordable Solar Homes

The SASH program (part of CSI) is a solar rebate program for low-income residents that own their own single-family home and meet a variety of income and housing eligibility criteria.

How to Apply

Program Administrator: CSE

Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing

A CSI solar rebate program for multifamily affordable housing.

How to Apply

Program Administrator: CSE

CSI RD&D

A solar grant program to fund grants for research, development, demonstration and deployment (RD&D) of solar technologies.

How to Apply

Program Administrator: CSE

Other Financial Options

Federal Investment Tax Credit

Provides a tax credit of up to 30% of the net cost of the qualified system installed.  Consult a tax professional before buying.

Leasing and Power Purchase Agreements

If owning a PV system is not a financially feasible option for you, consider a lease or power purchase agreement (PPA).  With a lease, someone else owns the equipment and you pay to lease it. Most leases eliminate high up-front costs because most require little to no downpayment.  With a PPA, someone else owns the equipment and you pay for just the power it generates usually at an annual pre-negotiated price. With either option, the PV vendor is responsible for installation and maintenance of the equipment.

Loans

Check with your own financial institution.  There may be green loans, home equity loans, personal loans, and other loan products. Your solar contractor may also have existing relationships with lenders with which they do business.

More Information

For more information on the potential benefits of going solar visit the Solar Calculators.

For more information regarding NEM Billing, Rates, Solar Rebate Programs, and Meter Access Issues, please call us at 1-800-411-7343.

Other Resources

Search the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) for more information on these and other incentives and financial options.  The database lists most resources for California at the city, county and state levels.