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Solar Energy
Infographic San Jose ranking solar panel San José is a Solar Leader

Climate Smart San José, the community’s climate action plan approved in February 2018, has a goal of increasing local renewable energy capacity. San José must continue its clean energy leadership in order to meet Climate Smart goals.

Below is a list of resources to help you install solar on your home or business in San José.

The City of San José is not affiliated with any of the following non-City resources and does not promote the use of one specific tool over another.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and Resources

What should I do before I install solar panels on my home or business?

After I’ve identified my energy efficiency opportunities, what’s next in the solar energy adoption process?

What City permits will I need to install a solar system on my home or business?

What resources are available to help properly size my solar system?

What rebates and incentives are available for clean energy technologies?

What financing resources are available for clean energy technologies?

How can I get connected with installers and get quotes?

What energy programs and resources are available for low-income households?

After installing solar, what can I do to further reduce my energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in my home or business?

How do solar panels work?



What should I do before I install solar panels on my home or business?

Before putting solar panels on your home or business, you should evaluate all energy savings opportunities in your building. This will ensure that your system is properly sized for your energy demand and you do not purchase an oversized array. Visit Silicon Valley Energy Watch to learn about our energy efficiency resources including free energy audit opportunities.



After I’ve identified my energy efficiency opportunities, what’s next in the solar energy adoption process?

Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) has many resources to help you better understand the process of going solar. To install a renewable energy system on your home and connect it to the electric grid, follow these steps provided by PG&E:
  1. Find a contractor who meets your needs and budget requirements.
  2. After you and your contractor choose the appropriate renewable energy system for your home, your contractor will fill out an application to connect your system to the PG&E electric grid. You will sign the Interconnection Agreement.
  3. Complete the installation of your renewable energy system.
  4. Have your system inspected by the City or county.
  5. Before turning on your system, make sure you receive permission from PG&E to operate your system.



What City permits will I need to install a solar system on my home or business?

The City of San José has plan and permit requirements for residents and businesses installing solar.



What resources are available to help properly size my solar system?

  • San Francisco Environment Department's SolarResilient tool will recommend a system size based on your annual usage. If you are also interested in coupling solar with battery storage, this tool will show the requirement for battery capacity and square footage.
  • National Renewable Energy Lab's PV Watts Calculator estimates the energy production and cost of energy of grid-connected photovoltaic (PV) energy systems throughout the world. It allows homeowners, small building owners, installers and manufacturers to easily develop performance estimates of potential PV installations.
  • Google's Project Sunroof can help you see if your roof is suitable for solar, estimate savings, and help connect you with installers in your area.



What rebates and incentives are available for clean energy technologies?

PG&E provides a current list of utility incentive programs for solar and other renewable technologies.


Residential Incentives

California Solar Initiative (CSI) Thermal Program

If you are interested in solar water heating, the California Solar Initiative (CSI) Thermal Program  offers cash rebates for solar water heating systems for single-family residential, multi-family, and commercial properties.

Federal Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit
The maximum allowable Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit for solar-electric properties are:
  • 30% for systems placed in service by 12/31/2019
  • 26% for systems placed in service after 12/31/2019 and before 1/1/2021
  • 22% for systems placed in service after 12/31/2020 and before 1/1/2022
  • There is no maximum credit for systems placed in service after 2008.
  • The home served by the system does not have to be the taxpayer’s principal residence.


Business Incentives

Federal Business Energy Investment Tax Credit
The value of the Business Energy Investment Tax Credit for solar photovoltaic systems are outlined below. These expiration dates are based on when construction begins.

  • 30% by 12/31/2019
  • 26% after 12/31/2019 and before 12/31/21
  • 22% after 12/31/21 and before 12/31/22
  • 10% after 12/31/22

Recover the Cost of Solar Energy Property through MACRS 
The Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS) allows businesses to accelerate the rate of return on solar investments. MACRS is a method of depreciation that allows business owners to recover the cost of solar energy through annual tax deductions. Qualifying solar energy equipment is eligible for a cost recovery period of five years. Learn more here.



What financing resources are available for clean energy technologies?

There are many resources available to help you determine the best strategy for financing solar power and energy efficiency upgrades. The City of San José has a list of financing options and tools to help you understand the many choices available.



How can I get connected with installers and get quotes?

  • Energy Sage can help connect you with installers and help you find the best price in your area by comparing to recent installations.
  • Solar Tribune rates and compares solar installers in your area and offers the latest news about the solar industry.
  • This Solar Contractor Bid Comparison Form can help you compare bids you’ve received from three different contractors.



What energy programs and resources are available for low-income households?

  • Grid Alternatives is a non-profit that provides solar power to those that qualify as a limited-income or low-income home.
  • Build it Green is a low-income weatherization program that can provide heating, ventilation and air conditioning upgrades, solar water heater installation, and solar power installations for income-qualified participants.



After installing solar, what can I do to further reduce my energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in my home or business?

Learn about Climate Smart San José's greenhouse gas reduction strategies and zero net carbon buildings.



How do solar panels work?

Learn how solar panels work, how they are made, the materials involved, and the history of solar.