2022 Solar Incentives Guide for Santa Cruz, CA - Tax Credits & Rebates

In this guide, we'll cover the latest solar incentives and rebates available in Santa Cruz. You'll learn about:
  • Local & State Solar Incentives
  • Federal Tax Credits (Updated for 2022 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 Santa Cruz solar installers to see how much you can save.

EcoWatch Local Advisors

By EcoWatch Local Advisors

Updated December 8, 2022

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What Solar Tax Credits, Incentives, and Rebates are Available in Santa Cruz?

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

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/


Solar incentives encourage homeowners to switch their home over to renewable energy by providing financial incentives meant to lower the burden of solar panel installation and use. Incentives could include things like discounts, cash back or credit on your utility bill each month. Some incentives are offered federally, while others are handled by the state of California or by your utility company, county or municipality. Some broad categories of solar incentives include:

  • Net Metering: You may be able to sign a net metering contract with your Santa Cruz utility company. This agreement may apply to all or a percentage of the excess electricity that is generated by your solar panels. Your utility company will then subtract this value from your monthly utility bill.
  • Solar Renewable Energy Certificate (SREC): SRECs are credits that can be sold to your utility company (or other buyers) for cash that is generally considered part of your taxable income. Generally, you must meet a certain (small) threshold of energy production before your solar system can earn SRECs or similar performance-based incentives. These kinds of incentives are normally handled by your state government.
  • Tax Credits: Tax credits reduce, dollar-for-dollar, how much income tax you owe the government. Tax credits are different from tax deductions.
  • Rebates: Solar companies may help you claim a rebate, or partial refund of your purchase, for your solar panels. Counties or states will also offer limited-time rebates at various times. The value of a rebate will usually come off the total price before tax credits are calculated.
  • Tax Exemptions: Your solar system could qualify for exemptions on both sales and property tax. Sales tax exemptions come into effect at the time of purchase. Property tax exemptions let you ignore the added value of the solar panels when calculating property taxes on your house.

Federal Solar Incentives

When people think of solar incentives, federal incentives might be the first thing that comes to mind. 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 predetermined percentage of the cost of your solar system.

The ITC applies towards solar systems installed after January 1, 2006 and under this program you can deduct from your taxes a percentage of the total cost of solar panels, accessories, labor and equipment. You can receive this credit for solar panels installed on a primary or secondary residence in the United States that you own. The original amount you could claim was 30% of the total cost, although depending on when the project was completed, your credit may range from 26-30%. There is no maximum claim amount.

To more fully understand how the ITC will apply to your situation, call your local Santa Cruz solar panel installation expert and ask for 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 Clean Energy Credit re-raises the credit up to 30% for solar installation projects started after January 1, 2022 and completed by the end of 2032. At this point, the credit percentage will see a slight decrease annually until the program expires in 2035. Starting in 2023, it will also be easier to qualify for credits for energy storage systems under this new program.

More information about the new Inflation Reduction Act can be found here. To best understand how the new Clean Energy Credit might apply to you, get in touch with your local Santa Cruz solar installation company.

State & Local Solar Incentives

Some solar incentives are often also provided at the state and local level. Similar to federal incentives, these could include rebates, tax credits and more. Some incentives are ongoing, while others are offered for only a limited time. Local solar incentives could come from the California government, or from your specific county or municipality.

Next Steps for Installing Solar in Santa Cruz

The large number of solar incentives available has helped tremendously increase the adoption of solar energy nationwide over the last 15 years. You might qualify for solar incentives from your local utility company, the federal government or the California government. Your local Santa Cruz solar panel installation expert can help you learn more about which incentives you should apply for, and get you started on the path to switching to renewable energy today.

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EcoWatch's Santa Cruz, CA Solar Incentives FAQs

I already have solar panels installed. Do I qualify for any incentives?

If your solar panels were installed after January 1, 2022, you may qualify for the newly increased 30% tax credit under the Inflation Reduction Act. If you installed your system between 2006 and 2021, you may qualify for a tax credit between 26% and 30%, depending on the exact installation date. Talking to the company that installed your solar system, or any local Santa Cruz solar installer, can help you learn more about what incentives you qualify for.

How much will solar panels save me annually on my electric bill in Santa Cruz?

Generally, Santa Cruz homeowners who install solar panels save around $1,713.87 per year, or around $32,563.49 over 20 years after making the switch.

What are the environmental benefits of switching to solar energy?

You can reduce your carbon footprint by 250 pounds of CO2 annually by installing solar panels. This adds up to approximately 5,000 pounds in 20 years. Solar is also a renewable energy source, meaning that making the switch lessens the drain on our planet's resources.

If I trade in my appliances for ones that utilize solar energy, are there any benefits that I can claim?

The recently passed Inflation Reduction Act introduces a number of incentives that reward homeowners for making eco-friendly upgrades. Some incentives include tax credits and rebates for installing new electric appliances. You can find more details about these incentives here.

Can I use a combination of solar and another type of renewable energy to power my home?

You can use multiple types of renewable energy, or a combination of renewable and non-renewable energy, to power your home. Be sure to discuss your plan with your local Santa Cruz solar installer. They can help you with the plan for your project and give you an understanding of various incentives that you may or may not 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.

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