Around this time of year, we find that not a lot of folks arethinking about large-scale home or business investments. It’s theholidays, we’re all a bit frantic. In some parts of the country, it maynot even be practical to look at a solar installation for another fewmonths considering ice and snow conditions. But in central coastCalifornia down through San Diego, this is hardly an issue–and this isalso among the best regions in the country in which to pursue solar.Why? Solar resource (the availability and intensity of sunlight); greatfinancing options; great solar incentives, like tax breaks and rebates;and a general supportive atmosphere. Your neighbors aren’t going tocomplain: they’re going to ask if they can take a tour.
As you can see in the map above, there may be a few places in thecountry that can compete for insolation (solar radiation levels)–butthere aren’t many. From Atascadero all the way down the coast, thesolar resource is excellent; and moving inland from San Diego to PalmDesert and beyond, the resource is simply unbeatable. If you want tosee how this great solar availability has resulted in real projects,check out this interactive map of San Diego solar installations.
San Diego Solar Rebates and Incentives
Whether you’re a customer of SCE, SDG&E, Anaheim PublicUtilities, or LADWP, you can qualify for utility rebates that reduceup-front solar costs for most residential projects by at least 20percent. Palm Desert also offers a low-interest loan program to makesolar easier to finance (current phase of funding is closed, but theprogram is expected to reopen in the near future).
Additionally, all projects are eligible for the 30 percent federalinvestment tax credit, so your net cost may be at least 50 percentbelow gross. This paves the way to short payback periods and appealingROI.
San Diego Solar Financing
This week, Adam filled us in ona great new program that will allow San Diego county residents tofinance solar with municipal funds repaid via a 20-year surcharge onproperty taxes. Solar FIRST has been kicking around some Californiamunicipalities for a while now, but its availability to San Diego arearesidents is exciting news.
Not that I don’t give Southern California residents credit as things stand today: San Diego has already been named the best solar city inCalifornia, leading the state (as of July 2009) with about 19.5 MWinstalled solar capacity distributed across more than 2,260 rooftops.At the end of 2008, the California Energy Commission put totalinstalled megawatts of solar in the state at 440 MW, so San Diego solar installations are pulling a fair bit of weight, comparatively.
Central Coast and Southern California solar are deservedly hottopics, and on the rise. This is a smart time to go solar, too: withsolar module prices at low ebb due to the industry’s solar panel glutof the past year, but rebates and other solar incentives still goingstrong, there really has never been a better time to make thisinvestment.
Image: NREL Solar Resource Map U.S.