2023 Solar Incentives Guide for San Francisco, CA - Tax Credits & Rebates
In this guide, we'll cover the latest solar incentives and rebates available in San Francisco.
You'll learn about:
- Local & State Solar Incentives
- Federal Tax Credits (Updated for 2023 and beyond)
- Ways to optimize your solar investment
Solar installers are experts in maximizing your solar tax credits and rebates.
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By EcoWatch Local Advisors
Data Analysis: James Savino
Ranking Methodology: Karsten Neumeister
Updated March 14, 2023
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What Solar Tax Credits, Incentives, and Rebates are Available in San Francisco?
Property Tax Exclusion for Solar Energy Systems and Solar Plus Storage System
Western Riverside Council of Governments - Home Energy Renovation Opportunity (HERO) Financing Program
Minimum financing: $5,000
The financing may not exceed fifteen percent (15%) of the market value of the property, up to the first seven hundred thousand dollars ($700,000) of the property’s market value, and ten percent (10%) of the remaining value of the Property above seven hundred thousand dollars ($700,000) minus any PACE assessment on the property The total amount of any annual property taxes and assessments shall not exceed five percent (5%) of the property's fair market value, determined at the time program financing is approved.
Local Option - Municipal Energy Districts
Self-Generation Incentive Program
Incentives will step down over time. See below for incentive amounts.
Renewable Market Adjusting Tariff (ReMAT)
LADWP - Feed-in Tariff (FiT) Program
Base price will step down over time as certain MW goals are met
California Solar Initiative - Solar Thermal Program
Single Family Residential Incentives:
Systems that displace natural gas: $29.85 per estimated therm displaced
Systems that displace electricity or propane: Funding has been exhausted
Systems that displace natural gas: $20.19 per estimated therm displaced
Systems that displace electricity or propane: $0.42 per estimated kWh displaced *** Note, funding has been exhausted in this category for SCE and PG&E
Solar Pool heating: $5.00 per estimated therm displaced
Federal Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit
The phrase "solar incentives" includes a range of financial incentives implemented to make installing and using solar panels more affordable. This is done to encourage people to switch to renewable energy. These incentives can include upfront discounts, cash back or credit towards your monthly utility bill. Some incentives are handled by the federal government, some by the California government and some by your utility company, county or municipality. Categories of solar incentives include:
- Net Metering: Don't forget to talk with your San Francisco utility company about signing a net metering agreement. This allows you to get a credit towards your monthly utility bill for the value of excess energy your solar panels generate. You may receive either a dollar-for-dollar credit or a percentage of the value.
- Tax Exemptions: Sales tax exemptions are applied at the time of purchase for your solar system. Property tax exemptions allow you to exclude the value that your solar panels add when you're calculating how much property tax you need to pay on your house.
- Tax Credits: These credits are dollar-for-dollar reductions (not deductions) in how much in taxes you owe the government.
- Rebates: Solar rebates might be provided by your state or county, or by your local utility company. These rebates are essentially cash back that is applied after you pay for a solar system and before tax credits are calculated.
- Solar Renewable Energy Certificate (SREC): Generally, solar systems that produce over a specific (normally small) amount of electricity will qualify for SRECs or similar performance-based incentives. SRECs and similar incentives are typically given by your state government. SRECs can be sold to your utility company or another buyer, and the money you receive is normally considered part of your taxable income.
Federal Solar Incentives
When thinking about solar incentives, you probably think of federal incentives first. The solar incentive that you're most likely to have heard of is the Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), which gives you a credit on your taxes equal to a certain percentage of your solar system's cost.
The ITC can be credited towards the value of solar panels installed on your primary or secondary residence in the United States. The solar panels have to have been installed on a property you own after January 1, 2006 for you to be eligible for the credit. The ITC initially covered 30% of all costs (panels, accessories, labor and equipment), although the amount has fluctuated slightly over the last few years between 26-30%. The amount you qualify for will depend on when your solar system was installed. There is no cap on the claim amount.
To find out exactly how much the ITC could save you, contact your local San Francisco solar panel installation expert.
In August 2022, the ITC (now called the Clean Energy Credit) was bolstered by the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act. Under the new program, solar installation projects begun after January 1, 2022 and finished by December 31, 2032 can qualify for a 30% tax credit. The amount of the credit will then decrease slightly each year until the end of the current Clean Energy Credit in 2035. Starting in 2023, the expansion to the program will also make credits for energy storage systems even easier to claim.
Click here to learn more about the new Inflation Reduction Act. Your local San Francisco solar panel installation experts can answer your questions and explain how the new Clean Energy Credit will apply to you.
State & Local Solar Incentives
Federal solar incentives are not your only option; tax credits, rebates and more may be offered at the state and local level. Some incentives are ongoing, while others are only available for a limited time. Incentives may be given by the California government, or by your county or municipality.
Next Steps for Installing Solar in San Francisco
Nationwide solar energy use has significantly increased in the last 15 years, in part due to the growth in the number of solar incentives. You can obtain these incentives from the California government, the federal government or your local utility company. Your local San Francisco solar panel installation company can give you more information about which incentives you may qualify for, and get you started on the path to switching to renewable energy today.
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EcoWatch's San Francisco, CA Solar Incentives FAQs
What are some environmental benefits of installing solar panels on my home?
Solar energy is a renewable energy source — by changing where you get your energy, you can help lessen the strain on our planet's resources. A solar system can also lower the CO2 emissions from your home by 250 pounds annually, or around 5,000 pounds in 20 years.
When does the federal solar tax credit end?
The Clean Energy Credit (previously referred to as the federal solar tax credit, or the ITC), is scheduled to end on January 1, 2035. Currently set at 30%, the credit will drop to 26% in 2033 and to 22% in 2034.
I want to switch my appliances out for ones that are more energy-efficient. Are there any credits I can get?
The new Inflation Reduction Act provides several incentives designed to reward homeowners who make eco-friendly upgrades. Some of these incentives include tax credits and rebates for installing new electric appliances. You can find more details about these incentives here.
Can I apply for incentives both towards the up-front cost of solar panels, and later as reimbursement?
Yes, you can receive both tax credits and rebates towards the cost of solar panels. Depending on which incentives you are eligible for, they may apply in a different order. Make sure that you talk to your solar installer or a local tax professional to ensure that you are claiming incentives correctly and that you're getting the most money possible.
Can I use a combination of solar and another type of renewable energy to power my home?
You can power your home with multiple types of renewable energy, or a combination of renewable and non-renewable energy. Be sure to discuss your ideas with your local San Francisco solar installation expert. They can help you as you plan for your project and give you an understanding of various incentives that you will or won't qualify for.
Our goal is to reach as many people as we can with sensible solutions like solar energy. Our team of full-time local researchers collects solar price and installation data for every city in America then compiles it to create these digestible city guides. If you want to read our solar expert's opinion on the top solar companies featured here, follow this link.
Solar incentive research was conducted by Melissa Smith and Karsten Neumeister. Local data analysis was conducted by James Savino. See something we missed or could do better? Email the editor.