2023 Solar Incentives Guide for San Jose, CA - Tax Credits & Rebates

In this guide, we'll cover the latest solar incentives and rebates available in San Jose.

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.
Get a free quote from one of our trusted San Jose solar installers to see how much you can save.

By EcoWatch Local Advisors

Data Analysis: James Savino

Ranking Methodology: Karsten Neumeister

Updated January 20, 2023

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We work with a panel of solar experts to create unbiased reviews that empower you to make the right choice for your home. No other site has covered renewables as long as us, which means we have more data and insider information than other sites. Our rankings are never affected by revenue or partnerships.

What Solar Tax Credits, Incentives, and Rebates are Available in San Jose?

Property Tax Exclusion for Solar Energy Systems and Solar Plus Storage System

Incentive Type:
Property Tax Incentive
100% of system value; 75% of system value exemption for dual-use equipment

Western Riverside Council of Governments - Home Energy Renovation Opportunity (HERO) Financing Program

Incentive Type:
PACE Financing
Eligible products can be financed for up to 25 years, depending on the useful life of the eligible product.
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

Incentive Type:
PACE Financing
Locally determined

Self-Generation Incentive Program

Incentive Type:
Rebate Program
For projects 30 kW or larger, 50% of incentive will be received up-front; 50% will be received based on actual kWh production over the first 5 years. For projects under 30kW, 100% of the incentive will be paid up front.
Incentives will step down over time. See below for incentive amounts.

Renewable Market Adjusting Tariff (ReMAT)

Incentive Type:
Feed-in Tariff

LADWP - Feed-in Tariff (FiT) Program

Incentive Type:
Feed-in Tariff
$0.17/kWh adjusted by a time of delivery multiplier
Base price will step down over time as certain MW goals are met

California Solar Initiative - Solar Thermal Program

Incentive Type:
Rebate Program
Step 1 Incentive Rates (contact utility to determine current incentive levels):
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
Commercial/Multifamily Incentives:
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

Santa Clara Water & Sewer - Solar Water Heating Program

Incentive Type:
Leasing Program

City of Palo Alto Utilities - Solar Water Heating Program

Incentive Type:
Rebate Program
Single-family residential gas-displacing systems: $18.59 per therm displaced
Single-family residential electricity or propane-displacing systems: $0.54 per kWh displaced
Multifamily and Commercial gas-displacing systems: $14.53 per therm displaced
Multifamily and Commercial electricity or propane-displacing systems: $0.42 per kWh displaced
Low-Income Multifamily gas-displacing systems: $19.23/therm displaced
Low-Income Multifamily Electric or Propane Displacing systems: $0.56/kWh displaced

Federal Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit

Incentive Type:
Personal Tax Credit
30% federal tax credit for systems placed in service after 12/31/2021 and before 01/01/2033. Good for: solar water heat, solar photovoltaics, biomass, geothermal heat pumps, wind (small), fuel cells using renewable fuels.

Source: https://www.dsireusa.org/


The term "solar incentives" refers broadly to financial incentives implemented by the government and by solar companies to encourage increased use of renewable energy by making the installation and use of solar panels more affordable. Different types of incentives, including cash back, discounts or monthly utility bill credits, may be available to you. Some incentives may be provided via the state of California, by your utility company or by county or municipality, while others are federal. You might qualify for any of the following types of solar incentives:

  • Tax Credits: Tax credits are dollar-for-dollar reductions (not deductions) in how much in taxes you owe the federal government.
  • Tax Exemptions: These might come in the form of property tax exemptions, which would allow you to ignore the value added by your solar panels when calculating the taxes you pay on your home. They may also include exemptions on sales tax at the time of purchase.
  • Rebates: Rebates, or partial refunds after a purchase, are usually given before any solar tax credits are calculated. Rebates can be provided by your local utility company, by your county or by your state.
  • Net Metering: Net metering factors in after your solar system is up and running. If you have in place a net metering agreement with your San Jose utility company, it will subtract the value of the excess energy produced by your solar system from your utility bill each month. In some places, this credit is dollar-for-dollar, while in other areas you may make back a percentage of the value.
  • Solar Renewable Energy Certificate (SREC): SRECs can be sold to your utility company (or other buyers) for money that is generally considered part of your taxable income. Typically, a certain (small) threshold of energy production must be met before your solar system is eligible for SRECs or similar performance-based incentives. These kinds of incentives are normally handled at the state level.

Federal Solar Incentives

Federal solar incentives are likely the first thing that you think of when you think about solar incentives. The Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit, or ITC, is likely the best-known federal solar incentive. The ITC provides a tax credit for a predetermined percentage of the cost of your solar system.

The ITC applies to solar panels installed on your primary or secondary residence in the United States. The solar system has to have been installed on a property you own after January 1, 2006 for you to claim the credit. The ITC initially covered 30% of all system installation costs (panels, labor, accessories and equipment), although the total amount has fluctuated 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 amount you can claim.

Wondering how the ITC applies to your specific situation? Get in touch with your local San Jose solar panel installer to get more information.

The ITC was both renewed and expanded by the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act in August 2022. It's also now called the Clean Energy Credit. The new Clean Energy Credit now runs until 2035. You can now receive a 30% credit for solar systems that began installation after January 1, 2022 and are completed by the end of 2032. This credit will then be decreased by a few percentage points every year until its expiration. The expansion also makes claiming credit for energy storage systems easier than ever before, beginning in 2023.

Click here to learn more about the new Inflation Reduction Act. Your local San Jose solar panel installation experts can answer any questions you have and explain how the new Clean Energy Credit applies to you.

State & Local Solar Incentives

Some solar incentives are often also provided by state and local governments. As with federal incentives, these may include tax credits, rebates and more. These incentives — which might be handled by the state of California, or by your county or municipality — may be offered on an ongoing basis, or for only a limited time.

Next Steps for Installing Solar in San Jose

There are a variety of solar incentives: those offered by local utility companies, those offered by the California government and those offered by the federal government, to name a few. Solar energy use has grown tremendously in the last 15 years, partially due to these incentives. Getting in touch with your local San Jose solar panel installation expert is a great first step towards getting all the incentives you qualify for when you switch to solar energy.

Best National Provider

SunPower

★★★★★
5.0

  • Most efficient panels on the market
  • National coverage
  • Cradle to Cradle sustainability certification
  • Great warranty coverage
  • Expensive
  • Customer service varies by local dealer

Best Regional Coverage

Momentum Solar

★★★★★
4.5

  • Great warranty coverage
  • Representatives are experts on local policies
  • Concierge service ensures steady communication
  • Slightly limited service offerings

Best Technology

Tesla Energy

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4.5

  • Price-match guarantee
  • Sleek, efficient, and durable solar panels
  • Best solar battery on the market
  • Some reported issues with customer service
  • Customer service varies by local dealer

EcoWatch's San Jose, CA Solar Incentives FAQs

How do I learn if I qualify for solar incentives?

Typically, solar incentives apply to:

  1. a new solar panel system
  2. installed on property you own
  3. within the U.S.
  4. within the date range specified by a particular incentive.

Specific incentives, including those run by the California government or by your county/municipality, sometimes have additional qualifications. Speak with your local San Jose solar installer to discover what incentives your project will qualify for.

How much will a solar system save me on my electric bill in San Jose annually?

Generally, San Jose homeowners who install solar panels save around $1,698.21 per year, or around $32,265.98 over 20 years after they make the switch.

What are the top solar panel installation companies near me?

To learn about the best solar panel installation companies near you, read our article on the top solar companies in San Jose.

What are some environmental benefits of installing solar panels on my home?

You can reduce your carbon footprint by 250 pounds of CO2 a year by switching to solar panels. This adds up to approximately 5,000 pounds over 20 years. In addition, solar power is a renewable energy source, which means that switching your home over reduces the drain on our planet's resources.

Can I claim incentives both towards the initial cost of solar panels, and later as reimbursement?

Yes, you can receive both rebates and tax credits towards the cost of your solar panels. Depending on precisely which incentives you are claiming, they may apply in a different order. Be sure to talk to your solar installer or a local tax professional to confirm that you are claiming the correct incentives and that you're getting the most money possible.

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.

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