Established by the Spaniards in 1769, San Diego was the first European settlement in the region, and it is now considered the birthplace of California. With a population of more than 1.4 million, San Diego has a thriving economy focused on tourism, international commerce, and technology manufacturing. The city is also home to University of California San Diego campus and its associated UCSD Medical Center, a leading institution in biotechnology research.
The city of San Diego is also an important leader in the solar industry. According to the Environment California Research & Policy Center, San Diego has the most installed solar power capacity of any US city with a total of 303 megawatts (MW). The top spot previously belonged to Los Angeles, but San Diego became the leader in 2016 as solar capacity increase 60%. The city has a goal of meeting 100% of its energy consumption with renewable generation technologies by 2035.
One of the city’s largest solar arrays is at San Diego International Airport and has an installed capacity of 5.5 MW. The University of California San Diego campus also owns a large solar power system, with 1.5 MW of solar photovoltaic panels and 300 kilowatts of solar water heating.
San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) charges some of the highest electricity rates in the country. Each household is assigned a baseline allowance depending on climate zone and the time of year, and all energy below 130% of that value is charged at 21 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh). However, for all consumption above the baseline, the rate is 43 cents/kWh. In addition, SDG&E electricity prices increased by nearly 11 percent from 2016 to 2017! The combination of high electricity prices and plentiful sunshine means that residents of San Diego can achieve significant power bill savings by installing solar panels. There’s a reason San Diego has the most installed solar capacity!
If you are interested in solar power but would prefer to avoid the upfront cost, there many financing options available in San Diego, such as solar loans, Purchase Power Agreements, and Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing. Unique to California, PACE loans come with a low interest rate and a typical repayment period of 20 years. With this program, your loan payments are paid along with your property taxes. Here are the five PACE providers in San Diego:
There is also a program for households that earn below 80% of the median income called Single-Family Affordable Solar Housing (SASH). Qualifying households can apply for a rebate that covers up to 100% of the solar panel system cost.
In addition to power bill savings, home and business owners who decide to go solar in San Diego can take advantage of the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), which allows you to deduct 30% of the cost of your solar panel system from federal taxes. This tax credit applies for all solar panel systems deployed before the end of 2019. If you are considering solar panels for your property, now is the best time to buy!