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Financing Your Solar in California: Incentives, Rebates, and Tax Credits (2023 Edition)

Living in the sunny state of California, it’s almost a no-brainer to consider soaking up that abundant sun for more than just a good tan. But going solar? That might seem a tad more complex. With solar power becoming increasingly popular, and a myriad of financial sweeteners available to ease the initial sting on your pocket, here’s a layman’s guide to decoding those incentives on financing your solar. 

1. Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC)

Alright, let’s start with something universal. The Federal ITC isn’t exclusive to Californians, but we sure can benefit from it. Essentially, this tax credit slashes a chunk of the solar system’s cost off your federal taxes. It’s like a direct discount on the income tax you owe Uncle Sam.

2. California Solar Initiative (CSI) – Thermal Program

Warm showers powered by the sun? Yes, please! The CSI-Thermal program is California’s way of promoting solar heated waters in our homes. Depending on the solar collectors you pick (be it flat-plate or the futuristic-sounding evacuated tube), you might qualify for a rebate. It’s a win for Mother Nature and your bank account.

3. Net Energy Metering (NEM)

Imagine your solar panels, on sunny days, churning out more power than you can use. With NEM, this excess energy isn’t wasted. Instead, you can feed it back to the grid and earn brownie points (or rather, bill credits) with your utility company. When your panels are off-duty, these credits help cut down your electricity bills.

4. Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Financing

PACE sounds fancy, and it is! In layman’s terms, it’s a loan for your solar setup that you can pay back via your property tax bill over time. The golden nugget? If you ever decide to move, the new owner can inherit this loan.

5. Local Rebates and Incentives

The community spirit in California shines bright, with many localities rolling out their own solar perks. For instance, if you’re in LA, the LADWP might have some special treats for you. Always good to have a chat with local folks or your utility company to stay in the loop.

6. Low-Income Solar Programs

California believes in solar for all, not just the well-heeled. Programs like SASH and MASH were crafted with heart, aiming to bring solar benefits to families across various income brackets. If you’re on a tighter budget, these might be your ticket to sunny savings.

7. Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP)

Ever thought of storing sunshine for a rainy day? The SGIP gives you a financial pat on the back for doing just that. If you couple your solar panels with energy storage systems, you’re looking at some attractive rebates.

8. Solar Tax Exemptions

Putting up those shiny panels might make your home’s value soar, but California ensures that this doesn’t translate to higher property taxes. Your home might be worth more with solar, but you won’t be taxed for this eco-friendly upgrade.


Riding the solar wave in California is not just an eco-warrior’s dream; it’s a smart cookie’s financial move too. The blend of juicy tax credits, rebates, and community-driven programs make that initial investment a whole lot easier on the wallet. So, if you’re on the fence, take a moment to bask in these incentives and, when ready, dive into the sunny world of solar savings. After all, the sun shines brighter in California!

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