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Useful links to solar information

This information is provided as a service only.  The Center for Climate Protection and Solar Sonoma County is not responsible for content.  Not seeing it here?  Let us know!

Community Choice Aggregation (CCA)

Clean Power Exchange (CPX) - The Center for Climate Protection's non-profit resource for Community Choice Energy roll-outs throughout California. Follow the excitement as it happens!

Sonoma Clean Power (SCP) - Sonoma County's Own!

Community Solar in California

Community Solar in California (PDF) - The Energy Policy Initiatives Center (EPIC) prepared this report that summarizes the activity related to Community Solar in California. The report, authored by EPIC staff attorney Joe Kaatz, provides an overview of:

  • community solar policies and programs in California;
  • shared solar programs developed as a result of Senate Bill (SB) 43, including a detailed discussion of the requirements for both the Enhanced Community Renewables and Green Tariff programs;
  • California’s virtual net metering programs, including the Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing (MASH) and Single-Family Affordable Solar Homes Programs (SASH);
  • California’s aggregate net metering program;
  • Renewable Energy Self-Generation Bill Credit transfer (RES-BCT) as authorized by Assembly Bill 2466; and,
  • Community Shared Solar models in other states.

This report was prepared by EPIC at the University of San Diego for the Center for Sustainable Energy to support the Golden State Solar Impact project, a statewide team funded by the Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Energy Technologies Program and the SunShot Initiative to encourage market transformation through expanding financing options for residential and commercial customers, streamlining permitting processes, and standardizing net metering and interconnection standards across investor-owned and municipally owned utilities in the region. 

Will SB 43 Promote Community Solar Gardens? (PDF) - The Local Clean Energy Alliance outlines principles of a more ideal community solar project:

  • They should be in or near an identifiable community
  • They should be owned and controlled by the community through transparent democratic decision making
  • They should be locally financed
  • They should enable participation by low-income communities
  • They should employ a local workforce (using local training programs) for development and
  • maintenance
  • They should employ land use policies that preserve agricultural land and environmentally sensitive habitat
  • They should be flexible enough (over 20 years) to allow for enhancements such as residential energy upgrades, electricity storage, smart grid, and best practices

Energy Rate Decision Tree

E6 & E7 Phaseout letter from Sonoma Clean Power (PDF) - The CPUC has scheduled the elimination of the E6 & E7 rates in a phaseout plan. Effective May 30 (changed from March 1 in the referenced document), E7 will be closed and all customer will be moved to E-TOU-A. E6 will be closed to new customers on the same date, May 30; existing E6 customers may remain on the E6 rate until 2022.

Electric Vehicle Charging Stations Air District is pleased to announce Cycle 2 of the Charge! Program, an incentive program that offers grant funding for the installation of electric vehicle charging stations at Bay Area transportation corridors, workplaces, multi-family dwelling units (MDUs) and trip destination locations. The goal of the Charge! Program is to rapidly expand access to electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in order to accelerate the Bay Area’s adoption of EVs and ultimately to achieve the region's EV deployment goals of 110,000 EVs by 2020 and 247,000 EVs by 2025. (12/22/2015)

Feed-in Tariff (ProFIT) - So you want to go into the wholesale energy production business? Perhaps you have some land that is no longer used for agriculture, and that is not under any restrictive easement? You'd like to produce a large amount of solar energy on this land to sell the local utility at wholesale pricing? Sonoma Clean Power's 'ProFIT' feed-in tariff program is that program.

Lease & PPA vs Ownership

You want to own your solar panels.
Your federal taxes are high enough to qualify for the 30% solar investment tax credit.
You want to maximize the financial benefits of going solar.

Lease or Power Purchase Agreement (PPA)
You don’t care about owning the panels.
Your federal taxes are too low to qualify for the solar investment tax credit.
You value immediate financial savings over larger long-term savings.

PACE Financing - Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) is an opportunity for property owners to finance energy efficiency, water conservation and renewable energy generation improvements through a voluntary assessment. These assessments will be attached to the property, not the owner, and will be paid back through the property tax system over time, making the program not only energy efficient but also affordable. Follow the next link for a handy PACE shopping tool... - Handy tool for comparing different PACE providers

Ygrene Talking Points - Ygrene ('energy' spelled backwards) is one of the nation's largest privately funded lenders for energy efficiency projects

Net Energy Metering (NEM) - PG&E vs Sonoma Clean Power - Both PG&E and SCP offer Net Energy Metering (NEM) for solar, but there are some important differences in the way the programs are implemented. Sonoma Clean Power offers some key advantages. This page includes links that show you how to understand your NEM statement showing energy credits:

If you purchase energy from Sonoma Clean Power - 

If you purchase energy from PG&E -

Pathway to Better Buildings

Sonoma County Energy Independence Program (SCEIP) guide to commercial building energy efficiency (PDF)

Renewable Energy Code, Sonoma County - If you are planning a large or commercial PV solar system, your first stop would be to review the Renewable Energy Code as it relates to your property and proposed use.

A standard rule of thumb is that it takes 5 acres of land for ground-mounted solar to produce one (1) MW of power. Note that the code determines how much of your land can be covered by the solar panels.

SGIP - Self-Generation Incentive Program - The Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) provides financial incentives for the installation of clean and efficient distributed generation technologies. SGIP is a ratepayer-funded rebate program, overseen by the California Public Utilities Commission, and available to retail electric and gas customers of the four California investor-owned utilities (Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, Southern California Gas and San Diego Gas & Electric). CSE is the program administrator for SDG&E territory.

Understanding your PG&E Utility Bill - If you think your bill is difficult to understand, you are not alone!  This informative video and discussion should help.

Solar Quote Consultations by SCEIP - The County of Sonoma offers FREE in-office consultations for those considering going solar!

Schedule your appointment: Call (707) 565-6470 or email

The consultations are:
  • No cost
  • Completely unbiased
  • Useful to compare bids from different companies
  • Helpful at any stage in the process
  • Available for residential and commercial
You will learn about:
  • Design considerations
  • Equipment options
  • Average costs
  • Financing options
  • Utility rate impacts

Property Tax Exclusion for Solar Systems - Fear not!  Your new rooftop solar system will not increase you assessed property value

Solar Systems May Increase the Resale Value of Your Home - Adding rooftop solar to you home has been shown to increase resale value

How Net Energy Metering (NEM) works (graphic)

{click to enlarge)
How Net Metering Works

Heat Pump Systems - Heat pumps are a better way to heat and cool air and water. Super efficient, and all-electric!

Solar Permitting Guidebook - Solar Permitting Guide for contractors and jurisdictions. Gets into the weeds, but useful for system owners and installers alike.

Solar Power your Recreational Vehicle

When you hit the road in your RV -- motorhome, 5th wheel, or trailer -- be sure to power your 'coach' with the sun! It's no fun to pull into a nice quiet camp setting, only to fire up a dirty, noisy gasoline power electric generator. Your camping neighbors don't appreciated it, either! Here are some local resources for installing a PV solar system on your RV, including inverter and battery storage:
  • Ben Mojica at Enriched Mobile Electronics, 707.528.3351, -- they do exceptional work on mobile electronics and van conversions
  • GTRV, Mike Reed, -- Well-known van conversion specialist in Sebastopol.
  • Real Goods, -- Up in Hopland. They have a long history of solar innovation. They sell the parts, but don't do installations as of January 2018, but check in with them.

Disposal of Solar Modules - The State of California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) oversees the rules for disposal of solar models, or 'panels'. Under current rules, solar panels are considered 'hazardous material' and must be disposed of accordingly. Recently passed legislation, SB 489, calls for the changing of the designation from 'hazardous waste' to 'universal waste'. As of 2018 new rules are being established to govern proper handling.
The DTSC is creating rules per SB 489 to manage PV module end of life disposal.  The DTSC is starting the process of designating PVas universal waste, but some modules could be potentially characterized as Hazardous Waste under CA rules, product material composition and accompanying test results.  SB489 and these draft rules when completed are intended to provide some relief to the industry in terms of recycling process and cost compared to having the California-only HazWaste designation. - Definition of 'Universal Waste'

Background information:
The DTSC is creating rules per SB 489 to manage PV module end of life disposal.  The DTSC is starting the process of designating PVas universal waste, but some modules could be potentially characterized as Hazardous Waste under CA rules, product material composition and accompanying test results.  SB489 and these draft rules when completed are intended to provide some relief to the industry in terms of recycling process and cost compared to having the California-only HazWaste designation. 

The goal of SEIA/CALSEIA comments was to make it clear that PV modules are not a priori hazardous waste and to support DTSC's efforts to label them as universal waste.  And to encourage DTSC to continue down the path for being able to dispose of PV panels in the state without the hazardous waste designation, opening up more locations and options for disposal.

Next steps would be for the DTSC to review all the pre-rulemaking comments, adjust the language, and then start the formal rule process (up to a year, per slide 22 in this presentation).  They estimated that to be sometime in Fall 2017.

Rebuilding After the Fires

Rebuild With Solar - You've been through a horrific event. So much loss. Here's a way to mitigate some of your loss, by rebuilding in an energy efficient and sustainable way... Power your new home with electricity from the sun! Here are some tips for you and your builder to help you along.

Renewable Auction Mechanism Map ('Heat Map') -- This is getting into the weeds quite a bit, but if you want to know what the available grid and transformer capacity is for a given address, this is for you. The map is designed to help contractors and developers find potential project sites. The map shows electric transmission lines, distribution lines and substations in PG&E service areas. It also lists information such as operating voltages, line and transformer capacity and substation names. 

Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC)

The federal solar tax credit, also known as the investment tax credit (ITC), allows you to deduct 30 percent of the cost of installing a solar energy system from your federal taxes. The ITC applies to both residential and commercial systems, and there is no cap on its value. But it *is* scheduled to expire:
  • 2016 – 2019: The tax credit remains at 30 percent of the cost of the system. This means that in 2017, you can still get a major discounted price for your solar panel system.
  • 2020: Owners of new residential and commercial solar can deduct 26 percent of the cost of the system from their taxes.
  • 2021: Owners of new residential and commercial solar can deduct 22 percent of the cost of the system from their taxes.
  • 2022 onwards: Owners of new commercial solar energy systems can deduct 10 percent of the cost of the system from their taxes. There is no federal credit for residential solar energy systems.