Solar rebates can save you as much as 30% off the cost of a solar power system, depending upon your utility. When combined with Solar Tax Incentives, your savings can be as much as 40-60%.
(To learn about Solar Tax Incentives, click here.)
Collected below is information about rebates available to commercial, residential and non-profit clients throughout the Run on Sun® service area.
While the programs may appear complicated, we have the expertise to make getting the best possible rebate simple. We do all the work; you get the savings!
Click for Your Utility's Rebate Information:Southern California Edison / California Solar Initiative
Pasadena Water and Power
Burbank Department of Water & Power (SUSPENDED!)
Los Angeles Department of Water & Power
Glendale Water & Power
An Overview of Solar Rebates
A solar rebate is a payment typically made directly to the utility customer by the utility as an incentive for installing a solar power system. There are two types of rebates used by utilities in the Run on Sun service area: Expected Performance Based Buydown (EPBB) and Performance Based Incentive (PBI).
Note: Both of these rebates are only applicable to net-metering systems and are not provided to Feed-in Tariff clients. (Learn more about the financial incentives around Feed-in Tariffs here.)
The EPBB rebate is a one-time, lump-sum payment based on the expected (as opposed to the measured, actual) production of the solar power system. As part of submitting a rebate application on your behalf, Run on Sun will: analyze your site for shading, determine the optimal orientation of the system (its azimuth relative to true South and its pitch from horizontal), and select the components to be used (solar panels and inverter(s)) so that we can calculate the expected performance of your system. An EPBB incentive is generally limited to residential and small commercial/non-profit/government installations and as of September 1, 2011, ranges from $0.35 to $4.00/calculated Watt depending on the utility and the type of customer (see below).
Different utilities use different tools for determining the calculated power for a given system:
- Southern California Edison, LA Department of Water & Power, Pasadena Water & Power and Glendale Water & Power all use the statewide calculator created for the California Solar Initiative.
- Burbank Water & Power uses another tool, called PowerClerk, that is only available to registered installers, like Run on Sun.
A PBI rebate consists of five annual payments based on the actual performance of the solar power system. The rebate amount ranges from $0.05/kWh to $0.632kWh, again depending upon the utility and customer type. In some cases, utilities will allow a customer to opt into a PBI rebate if their system size is in a certain range, frequently between 10 and 50 kW. One important difference with a PBI rebate is the need for an approved performance monitoring system so that the utility (and the customer!) knows exactly how much energy the solar power system is producing each month.
At Run on Sun we are familiar with the intricacies of all of these varied rebate programs and will handle all of the paperwork necessary for you to receive the greatest possible rebate.
Details and links regarding the various programs are provided in the sections below.
Specific Utility Solar Rebate Programs
SCE provides rebates based on the California Solar Initiative (CSI). SCE offers both EPBB and PBI rebates and divides its customers into two main types: residential and non-residential (which includes all commercial, non-profit and government customers). These rebates are allocated in steps – as more rebates are reserved, the rebate amount steps down, and this can happen at any time depending on the quantity of reservations received.
As of February 1, 2013, SCE is on Step 9 for both customer types with the residential EPBB rebate amount at $0.25/calculated Watt. For non-residential systems the EPBB rebate amount was $0.25/Watt (for commercial) and $0.90/Watt (for non-profit and governmental). The residential and commercial PBI rebate amount was $0.03/kWh, while the non-profit and governmental rate was $0.114/kWh.
SCE has a web site that tracks the present value of its rebates; access it here.
PWP has its own program known as the Pasadena Solar Initiative or PSI. PWP offers both EPBB and PBI rebates and divides its customers into four types, each of which receives a different rebate amount: residential, commercial, government/non-profit, and "income qualified/affordable housing." PWP does not have an established step system; rather, the PSI program is evaluated at least annually and rebate amounts are then adjusted to meet program goals. PWP last adjusted its Residential rebate amounts effective June 1, 2012, and its Commercial and Non-Profit rates effective December 1, 2011.
PWP's rebates for residential customers are $1.40/Watt for EPBB rebates (up to 30kW) and $0.212/kWh for PBI rebates. Commercial customers receive rebate rates of $0.85/Watt for EPBB rebates and $0.129/kWh for PBI rebates. PWP's rebates for non-profit/government customers are $1.60/Watt for EPBB rebates and $0.242/kWh for PBI rebates. PWP requires its customers to perform an online energy audit - you can access their calculator here.
PWP also has a rebate carve-out for "Income Qualified/Affordable Housing" installations that is extremely generous. Those rebates are $4.00/Watt for EPBB and $0.632/kWh for PBI. To qualify, the residents of such housing must have incomes "at or below 50 percent of area (Los Angeles County) median income adjusted for family size". These rebates are capped at 4.0 kW system size.
PWP has a web site that tracks the present value of its rebates; access it here.
While PWP has been a bastion of predictable, reliable solar policies, the other neighboring municipal utilities have been anything but - exhibiting a now you see them, now you don't approach to running their rebate programs that is, at best, confusing to their customers.
Here is the state of play with the other 3 munis as of May 1, 2013:
LADWP's Solar Incentive Program (SIP) offers rebates for residential customers, and to a much more limited extent, non-residential customers as well. The SIP operates on steps, much like the CSI program, and as of January, 2013, the residential program was on Step 7 with 7.4 MW of new capacity available at this step (with 1.4 MW of applications under review). Unlike the CSI and PWP programs, LADWP does not offer a PBI rebate. The current EPBB rebate for residential customers is $1.05/Watt.
LADWP has a web site that tracks the present value of its residential rebates; access it here.
Please note: Due to the exceptionally high cost of working with the City of Los Angeles on solar power projects, we will not consider any residential project smaller than 7 kW (a bill of more than $250/month, $500 per billing cycle). We apologize for the inconvenience.
In addition to the steps controlling the rebate amount, the SIP also has a fixed budget for each year of $20 million each for the residential and non-residential programs. When that amount is reached, the program stops taking applications until the start of the next fiscal year.
The non-residential side of the SIP sold out almost immediately last year. This chart - taken from LADWP's Monthly SIP Status Report for March 2012 - shows the flood of reservations in the non-residential program last year. That pattern continued this year and the non-residential program was sold out as of August, 2012.
For commercial and non-profit customers in LADWP territory, rebate applications will need to be on file as close to July 1, 2013 as possible to avoid missing out on the limited rebate funds available. We have been told that LADWP anticipates just $10 million in non-residential rebate funds as of July 1, 2013 - half of what it has had, and subscribed almost immediately, the past two years.
Going forward, LADWP anticipates that all of its non-residential projects over 30 kW will be handled through its Feed-in Tariff (FiT) program which was recently approved by the LADWP Board. You can learn more about the status of the LA FiT program on our Feed-in Tariff page.
Burbank Department of Water & Power — SUSPENDED!
Effective April 21, 2011 - but only announced in August - BWP suspended its solar rebate program until July 1, 2013, at the earliest. BWP was supposed to publish information regarding its new rebate amounts in June and we will provide that information as soon as it is available.
It appears that BWP will only pay rebates on systems sized at 30kW or smaller.
Glendale Department of Water & Power — SUSPENDED!
GWP has suspended its solar rebate program and only notes that "new funding may be available July 1, 2013. However, GWP is under a legal mandate to offer a Feed-in Tariff program by that date. We will continue to monitor their site to see if that status changes.
Unlike other utilities, GWP simply divides its program’s rebates based on the size of the system with systems under 30kW receiving a higher, EPBB rebate and larger systems receiving a lower, PBI rebate. No distinction is made between residential and commercial customers; however, non-profits and affordable housing developments qualify for even higher rebates. In addition, GWP pays a higher rebate if the customer assigns any Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) to GWP, however, for commercial customers such an assignment may have unintended consequences.
For rebate applications received during Fiscal Year 2013-2014, the published - but presently unavailable - rates are: $1.73/Watt for systems 30kW and smaller, and $0.199/kWh for larger systems.
To learn about Solar Tax Incentives, click here.