California has the largest solar market in the U.S. and has been a longtime champion of solar because of the many economic and environmental benefits it provides, including billions in local investment. Solar supplies more than 20 percent of California’s electricity today, but it must play a bigger role if the state is to reach climate and energy goals.
SEIA California State Solar Policy Priorities
Residential Solar Mandate and the Investment Tax Credit
Beginning in 2020, all new homes built in California must have solar, prompting new questions about who’s eligible take advantage of the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC). While the specifics will depend on your situation, the solar ITC will generally go to whoever owns the system. If a homeowner buys a newly built home with solar and owns the system outright, the homeowner is eligible for the ITC the year that they move into the house. If the homeowners leases the solar system or purchases electricity from the system through a power purchase agreement (PPA), then the ITC is claimed by the company that leases the system or offers the PPA.
Additional Priorities & Recent Highlights
- SEIA passed SB 364, which preserves the solar property tax exclusion regardless of the outcome of Proposition 15. Without the legislation, Prop 15 would have rolled back the solar property tax exclusion for existing and new projects, putting much of California’s solar fleet at risk of default.
- SEIA successfully advocated for new rules to capture the full capacity value of solar+storage systems, making solar+storage more competitive with natural gas.
- SEIA secured a permit to allow more than 4,000 MW of shovel-ready solar projects to move forward as California considers additional protections from the Joshua Tree under the California Endangered Species Act.
- SEIA reached a settlement in the San Diego Gas and Electric General Rate Case, achieving changes to SDG&E’s rates that will allow more customers to adopt solar and storage, and that require the utility to consider further rate changes favorable to solar customers in 2021.
- SEIA reached a settlement in Southern California Edison’s General Rate Case that will require the utility to consider the value that solar provides in meeting grid needs before spending ratepayer dollars on grid upgrades, ensuring that solar is recognized for the benefits it delivers to SCE’s distribution system.
- SEIA has successfully delayed the approval of a proposed solar installer citation program that would have been unworkable and added significant costs for solar installers, and has persuaded policymakers to revisit the proposal before moving forward.
- SEIA achieved significant improvements to the CPUC’s avoided cost calculator tool, which will be used to determine the benefits that distributed solar provides. SEIA is now leading an industry coalition in the state’s proceeding to review net metering.
For more information on SEIA's work in California, please contact Rick Umoff.
View more solar industry data.
Notable Solar Installations in California
- Topaz Solar Farm was completed in 2014. This photovoltaic project has the capacity to generate 550 MW of electricity -- enough to power over 142,000 California homes.5
- Several large retailers in California have gone solar including AER Worldwide, Agilent Technologies and Airdrome Orchards. Prologis has installed one of the largest such installations with 8 MW of solar capacity at their location in Rialto.6
Check out our Major Solar Projects List for more notable installations.
Solar Companies in California
Looking for a local installer? Use SolarReviews to get company reviews and estimates for solar in your area. You can also view the average costs for installing solar in California, based on real price data from installed systems and solar quotes.
Don't see your company listed? Complete our National Solar Database Survey!
If you're looking for information about local solar companies, check out EnergySage's list of solar companies in California, where you can check out information about each company and see real customer reviews.
California State Solar Policy Resources
California Public Utilities Commission – Learn about the governing body that regulates the electricity rates and services of California public utilities
California Solar Initiative – Read information on the solar rebate program for customers of California's investor-owned utilities
California State Energy Commission – Find a wide variety of information on state government energy programs, policy, projects, energy-saving strategies and energy-related statistics
California State Legislature – Track pending legislation affecting solar energy, locate and contact individual legislators, and stay up to date on current legislative issues in California
DSIRE Incentives Database - California – Search a public clearinghouse for specific solar energy incentives in California and across the United States
U.S. Energy Information Administration - California State Profile – Explore official energy statistics, including data on electricity supply and demand, from the U.S. government