Why should I use solar?

California is one of the sunniest states in the country. Using all that free solar power can come with numerous benefits. These include:

Saving Money

  • Piedmont has over 250 days of sunshine each year. Using the power of the sun can significantly reduce your electricity bill, which in California, is typically over $2000 annually. Different sources claim you will save $20k to $30k over the lifespan of the panels, but this number will change depending on the size of the array and your household’s energy bill. There are numerous “solar savings calculators” on the internet to give you an informal initial look into how much money you could save.
  • Net Energy Metering: On sunny days, you can sell excess electricity back to the grid, making solar panels an investment that can pay itself off fairly quickly.
  • If you are interested in solar but are concerned about costs, this site offers an overview of savings, rebates, and incentives that can be found. The federal and state governments both offer financial incentives to encourage solar, but there are a number of local rebates that can be found as well. EBCEBayRENSunShares, and other companies and programs have some additional resources.

Preparing for hazards and energy independence

  • Piedmont currently sources electrical power from EBCE, which offers electricity generated from entirely renewable sources. However, using solar panels and batteries together enables households to harness power from the sun and store it for use when it is needed, without relying exclusively on the grid.
  • When emergencies such as wildfire, earthquakes or flooding strike, utilities can shut off access to gas and electricity. Using solar panels and pairing with batteries can help you store energy for these events and avoid the effects of a blackout.

Improving Piedmont’s sustainability

Solar is a carbon-free source of energy, which means no carbon emissions when you collect and use it. If you purchase electricity from EBCE’s Renewable 100 program and use only electric appliances in your home you won’t produce emissions stemming from gas appliances. If you add solar panels to the roof of your home, your energy costs will be lower and your system will be a small part of California’s zero-emissions electrical grid. If you add batteries to the solar energy system, you may lower your energy costs even further. This is an important aspect to Piedmont’s Climate Action Plan for both reducing greenhouse gas emissions and resiliency.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions

Natural Gas contributes over 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in Piedmont, including gas furnaces, gas water heaters, gas cooktops and ovens, and gas dryers. Installing a rooftop solar energy system, purchasing electricity from East Bay Community Energy’s Renewable 100 program and switching from natural gas to electric appliances will help reduce your home’s GHG emissions.

How to get a solar photovoltaic (PV) system

Maximize Energy Efficiency: The first step to installing a solar PV system is to reduce energy usage throughout your home by maximizing energy efficiency. This will help you determine how much solar energy you actually need to collect each month. You will want to take steps to minimize your energy load so that you don’t need to oversize the solar PV system. Conduct an energy audit through a free service like BayREN or another contractor. They will help you determine ways to reduce your energy usage before you invest in solar panels. 

Understand your equipment needs: Before you contact installers, it is worthwhile to familiarize yourself with the equipment and additions to your home you might need. The California state government maintains a webpage with updated equipment that meets safety and performance standards. This will help you ask questions and understand what you want when you contact installers. 

Consider Battery storage: Pairing solar panels with battery storage can change the way you use energy while moving your home towards a safer and more sustainable future. You can store energy during the day and use it during the night when you need it. During an outage, you can rely on batteries to prevent black outs. Determine the best kind of battery for your home

Own or Rent? Homeowners can either lease panels or purchase them. If you lease the panels, you will still generate solar power and reduce your electricity bills, but you will see fewer of the financial benefits up front. To learn more about some of the different methods to purchase solar, homeowners can visit this site

For an in-depth explanation of Solar Power Purchase Agreements, please visit this webpage from www.saveonenergy.com to read more about the benefits and drawbacks.

Contact Installers: The sunny Bay Area has a vast number of installers eager to provide you with solar panels. SunShares partners with installers to offer homeowners discounts on solar through bulk purchasing. SunShares vets installers, hosts informational webinars, and provides more information on their website. Homeowners can contact a few different installers to compare costs before making a final decision. 

Don’t forget your permit! The City of Piedmont offers a streamlined permitting process for solar panels that has lower permit costs and faster review times for qualifying projects. See further down the page for more information.


BayREN: offers free home energy advising
PACE financing: make owning solar more affordable through different financing options
Overview of different ways to finance solar.
Overview of Solar Panel installation costs
SunShares gives you discounts on rooftop solar installation and battery storage. Sign up before November 30 to get access to their discount
Database of state incentives for solar
• Solar on Multifamily Affordable Housing (SOMAH)

Reason to Celebrate

The City of Piedmont is quickly approaching an exciting solar milestone. Piedmont residents have been applying to put solar panels on their homes for almost two decades now. The first solar panel project was approved by City staff twenty years ago, in 2001, and prospects have been looking sunny ever since. In 2020 so far, the Planning and Building department approved solar projects at the highest rate seen in Piedmont. Piedmont has over 500 solar installation projects since 2001, an impressive figure considering that there are only about 4,000 housing units within Piedmont. 

The number of solar panel projects approved in Piedmont