Solar

Solar Panels

There are many programs and resources to help individuals and businesses go solar. However, it is important to always make energy efficiency improvements first. Energy efficiency is the most cost-effective way to reduce electricity bills and improve comfort. The less energy a house uses, the smaller and less expensive the solar equipment required.

Why Go Solar ?

  • Reduce or eliminate your monthly electricity bill
  • Potentially increases your property value
  • Proven, mature technology
  • Variety of financing options
  • Reduce your carbon emissions
  • Protection from future electricity price fluctuations
  • Low maintenance once installed

New solar program launches August 14th

SunShares is a renewable energy program making it easier and more affordable for Bay Area residents to go solar. SunShares offers discounts, free workshops, and helps renters learn more about their clean energy options. Contact the non-profit program administrator BC3 with any questions at sunshares@bc3sfbay.org. Here's how SunShares works:

  • Workshops are held to help residents understand the basics of solar, financing options, and options as a renter and to answer questions. Get details and RSVP for the September 28th Contra Costa workshop in Concord from 7-8 PM or RSVP for a webinar covering the same material.
  • Three pre-vetted solar installers were selected and will work with you to schedule your home solar evaluation. Register by November 10th to receive a no-cost, no-obligation solar proposal.
  • Sign your solar contract by December 31st, 2017 to move forward with solar installation and take advantage of the discounted program pricing.

Getting Started

  • Looking to install solar panels? EnergySage connects consumers with multiple solar energy quotes and financing options from multiple contractors through an easy-to-read web platform. These options enable consumers to choose the right solar option for them. Just enter your zip code to get started! Visit the EnergySage website.
  • PG&E's Solar Calculator helps you estimate the costs of installing solar and the bill savings a solar PV system would generate.
  • MCE electricity customers can learn about MCE's net energy metering program and rates for rooftop solar.
  • Google Project Sunroof uses Google Earth Mapping, combined with solar orientation, roof segment angles, weather conditions, and more to give you a quick assessment of whether solar is a smart investment for your household, business, or municipality

Permits & Building Code Requirements

Visit the Building Division's webpage for a checklist of solar requirements for a permit:

Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit

In December 2016, Congress approved extending the Solar Investment Tax Credit, which currently provides a 30% federal tax credit for solar systems installed on residential and commercial properties. This tax credit was set to expire at the end of 2016, but is now extended through the end of 2019, helping to keep solar affordable for homeowners and businesses here in Walnut Creek. After 2019, the tax credits have different expiration dates and values by year for residential and commercial projects. For more information about tax credits, see the Financing page.

New Net Energy Metering Policy

On January 28, 2016, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) ruled in favor of extending California’s net energy metering (NEM) program. Net energy metering allows customers with on-site renewable energy generation, like solar, to receive a financial credit for excess power generated by their systems.

For the most part, the decision is seen as largely preserving many of the benefits of NEM for future solar customers. New solar customers will need to pay a one-time interconnection fee ranging from $75 and $150, and some additional charges. Utilities would place new NEM customers on time-of-use rates, which rise during periods of high electricity demand. The new NEM program will take effect for new solar customers after the utilities reach certain participation caps, or July 1, 2017, whichever occurs first. Existing solar owners are exempted from all the NEM changes for 20 years from when they installed their systems and connected to the grid. For more information, visit PG&E's website.

More Resources

  • Renewable energy can include solar, wind, biomass, hydroelectric, or geothermal power, and can help significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Under California's Renewable Portfolio Standard, investor owned electricity and natural gas utilities, like PG&E, are required to have 33% of their energy mix come from renewables by the end of 2020.

  • California Solar Statistics is the official public reporting site of the California Solar Initiative (CSI), presented by the CSI Program Administrators and the CPUC. You can view and download data, find an active solar contractor, and search for specific solar projects.
  • The Open PV Project is an initiative between the government, industry, and the public to compile a comprehensive database of PV installation data for the nation. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) jump started the database with data from large utilities, state incentive programs, and other organizations.