What you need to know about going solar in California

December 12, 2019 | 3min read

California has some unique factors that should be considered when going solar. Utility companies in California are moving to Time-of-Use billing in an effort to flatten the utility demand curve. The state also has planned blackouts, called public safety power shutdowns, that make grid-delivered power unreliable in some parts of the state during some parts of the year. Lastly, you should also be aware that there are state-level incentives for electric vehicles (EV) that can make adding an EV to your solar plans make a lot of sense.

Time-of-Use billing in California

With Time-of-Use (ToU) billing, when you use electricity has a big impact on how much you pay for it. Electricity used during peak rate hours is more expensive than electricity used during off-peak hours. The cheapest time to use electricity is during super off-peak hours. Peak hours for all three of California’s main utility companies is between 4 PM and 9 PM. Off-peak hours occur during the day and in the early hours after midnight.

Electric vehicles get special reduced ToU rates

You can reduce the rates you pay under ToU plans by owning an electric vehicle. EVs and plug-in hybrids are eligible for special lower rate ToU-EV rate plans. EVs are also easy to charge during the lowest super off-peak rate hours because you can set your car to charge between those hours. Thus your car charges while you sleep and is ready to go in the morning.

Author’s note: I charge my Chevy Volt (plug-in hybrid) during super off-peak rate hours. It costs me about $2.00 to fully charge my battery this way. 

Batteries, the answer to blackouts and peak ToU rates

Anyone considering going solar in California should consider installing home batteries as well. The batteries provide power to your home during peak evening rates, and then they recharge from your solar system the next day. Combining the solar system with batteries can help you minimize your use of expensive electricity from the grid.

EV owners note: You should plan to charge your car after 9 PM even with home batteries. This way you won’t use up your battery power prematurely. Rates are often lowest after midnight.

Public safety power shutoffs

Unreliable power from the grid is often the new norm in California. Pacific Gas and Electric estimated that public safety power shutoffs will continue to happen for the next ten years. Home batteries can provide power to your home during those blackouts. It’s important to remember that they won’t power your entire home during an extended blackout. You will need to choose which circuits in your home to supply with power.

California has an incentive for home batteries

The Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) offers up to $400 per kilowatt-hour of installed battery capacity. The SGIP incentive can significantly cut the cost of installing batteries. Plus, batteries are eligible for the federal tax credit.

Freedom Forever can help when going solar in California

There is obviously a lot to think about when going solar in California. How much power do you need? Are home batteries a smart choice for you? How much battery capacity should you install? These are tough questions that should be answered by a knowledgeable professional. Freedom Forever’s family of independent authorized dealers are experts on going solar in California. They can answer your questions and help you go solar with confidence, thanks to Freedom’s 25-year production guarantee.

There’s never been a better time to go solar in California. Call us at 800-685-1850 or click below to get started.