Going Green in Sonoma County, CA
Sonoma county offers several incentives and financing opportunities for homeowners looking to make the transition to solar. Located in the Northern region of California, the county has a population of 488,863 people and a land area of 1,575.63 square miles as of 2020.
Between 2017 and 2021 the county had a total of 188,841 households and an average of 2.56 persons per household. 86.9% of the county’s residents have lived in the same house for the past year.
In 2021, the county had 205,903 housing units and issued 2,618 building permits. 61.4% of the county’s housing units are occupied by their owners. Within the same period, the median value of owner-occupied housing units stood at $665,800. But the monthly cost varied depending on the existence of a mortgage. Consequently, the monthly owner cost with a mortgage is $2,715, while without a mortgage is $745.
Sonoma’s median gross rent between 2017 and 2021 was $1,856 while the median household income was $91,607.
The average cost of getting solar panels in Sonoma County, CA as of January 2023 is between $2.7 and $4 per watt. As such, a 5 kilowatts (kW) solar energy system can cost a household in Sonoma between $12,155 and $16,445.
Rebates for solar panels in California including the Federal Investment Tax Credit reduce the average installation cost to around $14,000. The higher the system capacity, the higher the price, as seen in the table below.
|Energy System Size
|Solar Panel Cost
|Cost After Credit
Several other factors also affect the cost of solar panels in Sonoma County. For example, energy companies operate different pricing policies, as such, panel costs vary by brand. Also, the type of the panel determines its efficiency and output, and consequently its price.
Crystalline solar panels are more efficient and usually cost more initially. Meanwhile, thin films do not last as long but are more affordable.
Wattage rating refers to how much power a system can produce. A system with a higher wattage rating is likely to cost more.
Depending on the size and quality of the system, the average solar residential output ranges from 250 to 400 watts. Installation costs may also vary depending on the type of roof and the complexity of the system. Including power-saving capacities like batteries also affects solar costs. Here’s more information on the price of solar in Sonoma County.
|Average Cost Breakdown for Solar Installation in Sonoma County
|Cost Per Watt
|Monocrystalline Solar Panels
|$1 to $1.50 per watt
|Polycrystalline Solar Panels
|$0.90 to $1 per watt
|Thin Film Solar Panels
|$1 to $1.50 per watt
|Cost of Racking
|$.25 to $.50 per watt.
|Installation and Soft Costs
|$2.50 to $4.50 per watt
Solar panels are not subject to property taxes in Sonoma County because of the California Solar Tax Exclusion. So when you install a solar energy system on your property, it would not affect the assessment of the property’s value for tax purposes.
This tax exclusion is provided for under section 73 of the California Revenue and Taxation Code. But to be eligible for the exclusion, the installation must have been completed on or after January 1, 2008. The incentive is set to end in January 2025.
Some residents may need access to property records when verifying claims of tax exclusion, especially when you purchase a building with solar. Sonoma County, California property records are publicly available online and physically at the office of the County Assessor located at
585 Fiscal Drive
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
Interested persons can call the office at (707) 565-1888. The line is available Monday through Friday between 9:00 AM and 4:00 PM.
On average it takes solar panels in Sonoma County about six years to pay for themselves. That is, after this period, the system is likely to have saved you as much as it cost to install.
Two major factors that determine your panel’s payback period are the system’s installation cost and how much power it generates. A high-generating system eliminates the need to purchase power from energy companies. Excess power generated can also be sold back to the grid for utility credits. Because of this, the higher a system’s generation, the faster it can pay for itself.
Government incentives reduce the cost of installation and make it faster for your panels to pay for themselves.
Some of the most notable solar incentives and rebates Sonoma residents can enjoy include
The U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy advises homeowners to hire professionals for their installations. California laws go further to require solar installers to hold certain state-issued licenses to operate. The kinds of licensees allowed to install solar in Sonoma are the “A” – General Engineering contractors, “B” – General Building contractors, C-4, C-10, C-36, C-46, and C-53 licenses.
The license categories encompass the professionals needed to install solar, including electricians, building contractors, and plumbers. But not all of the licensees can handle just any installation.
For example, C-53 recipients can only work on swimming pool heaters that use solar, while C-4 can only install solar boilers and heating equipment. But a contractor can hold more than one of these licenses. In any case, ensure that your installer holds the relevant license to perform your project. You can verify your installer’s license status online through the California State License Board (CSLB)’s license search.
Sonoma County solar users can sell power through the California net metering program. The program allows residents using renewable energy sources to sell their excess power generation to the grid. Customers can use the credits they get in exchange for the excess power they supply to offset their utility bills.
If the credit exceeds the customer’s utility bill after the 12-month billing period, the customer receives payment for the surplus at a fair market value. California’s current net metering program, NEM 2.0 is set to be replaced by a new one named NetMetering 3.0 in April 2023.
However, old customers can remain on the NEM 2.0 for up to 20 years after their interconnection to the grid.
This net metering policy is also known as net billing. Under this program, compensation for excess electricity supplied to the grid by solar users will not be at a flat rate that is competitive with electricity retail price.
Instead, customers’ net billing will be based on the value of the power they supply. The power’s value is determined by the cost the utility avoids by purchasing from the customer. Therefore, the rates would vary depending on the day and time the power is transmitted to the grid.
This makes it more beneficial to those with power storage facilities as they can send power to the grid during high-value periods. The program is predicted to slash net metering credits by up to 75%.
To be able to take part in net metering in Sonoma County, you must be interconnected to the grid. This requires the payment of a one-time interconnection fee that varies depending on the grid operator. Additionally, only residents that receive electricity from Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), Southern California Edison (SCE), or San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) can participate in net metering in Sonoma.
Tesla solar panels are available in Sonoma County, California. Tesla also provides customers with the option of purchasing its Powerball battery. Tesla solar panels reviews on popular websites like Yelp show that the Tesla solar panels are cheaper than the national average and its Powerball battery provides adequate energy storage capacity. Customers also have the opportunity to opt for unique styles that match their preferences.
You can find local Tesla-certified installers near you by using the location search on the company’s website. Tesla issues this certification to installers that have met certain requirements and are considered qualified for the job.
Tesla’s Sonoma County office is located at
1362 N McDowell Blvd Ste A
Petaluma, CA 94954
Phone: (888) 765-2489
Yes, solar panels do increase home value in Sonoma County. The energy independence and government incentives that follow solar installations make homes with solar a more attractive option for purchasers.
Research by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory noted that solar can significantly increase the resale value of averaged-sized homes by up to about $15,000. The increase in value depends on the capacity of the system as well as the local electricity rates. Solar is valuable when it can satisfy the home’s energy needs. Likewise, Solar might be viewed as a luxury in areas with low electricity rates.
Other factors that affect how solar increases a home’s value are the ownership of the panel and its age and condition. Therefore, panels used under a lease agreement are not considered part of the property for sale. However, the purchaser may decide to continue the lease agreement. Also, properly maintained and newer systems are likely to contribute to a property’s value more than old or used solar panels in Sonoma County.
Finding a dependable solar company in Sonoma requires some effort on your path. Good research can give you a clear idea of the quality of a company’s products and services. The following tips can help you reduce your search time and find quality Sonoma solar companies near you.
Ask family and friends: You can consider getting suggestions from people that use solar near you. They can provide information on where and how they got theirs, which can be a starting point for you.
Search online: you can get so many more options for your solar through a simple google search. Keywords help you get what you need from the search faster. You can go with Sonoma solar companies near me or instead specify your city. You can also search based on what you want. It can be a specific brand like Sunpower solar panels in Sonoma County or a particular type of panels such as flexible or portable solar panels in Sonoma County.
Research your companies of choice: there are several ways of learning about a company’s operation and quality. You can see comments about energy companies near you on review sites like Yelp and the Better Business Bureau. You can also request references or past clients. A company that offers satisfactory services would confidently provide you with references.
Verify licenses: Solar installers must hold a license from the CSLB to operate in Sonoma. Solar sales representatives must also be registered with CSLB as Home Improvement Salespeople (HIS).
When you have a list of trusted companies, request quotations for your project from each company and compare them.