Solar FAQs

Why should I get a solar photovoltaic (PV) system?

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

Save 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 solar 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 government 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.

Prepare 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.

Help improve 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 service plan 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 your 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 enhancing local resiliency.

What should I consider before getting a solar photovoltaic (PV) system?

Maximize your home's 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.

Determine if you should lease or buy 

How can I get a solar photovoltaic (PV) system?

    Contact installers

    • The sunny Bay Area has a vast number of installers eager to provide you with solar panels. Homeowners should contact a few different installers to compare costs before making a final decision. 
    • The City of Piedmont has teamed up with other Bay Area cities and the Business Council on Climate Change to provide a solar group-purchasing program for homeowners called Bay Area SunShares. SunShares pools the buying power of individual participants across the Bay Area to get more competitive pricing from solar companies, making going solar easier and more affordable than ever. SunShares vets installers, hosts informational webinars, and provides more information on their website. Discounts from the SunShares Program are available for a limited time in the fall of each year.

    Apply for a solar 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. Learn more here

    Where can I get more information about solar? 

    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. Piedmont has over 600 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