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Go Solar...FAQs

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FAQs and General Program Overview

  •  What is the GO SOLAR… SAN DIEGO COUNTY program?
    The program is a public-private partnership of the County of San Diego and the commercial banking industry to offer loans to qualified property owners at attractive rates and terms to help access financing for making energy efficient and/or solar energy improvements to homes or businesses, such as installing solar systems. The details of individual loan programs available will vary based on the participating bank and the property owner's qualifications, but are generally offered in support of making energy efficient improvements and/or installing solar systems in an effort to promote regional energy independence.
  •  What is the process? What do I need to do?
    Property owners interested in participating should take the following five steps:
    1. FAQs: Read this list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) before getting started.
    2. Estimates: Obtain written estimates from a minimum of three licensed contractors.
    3. Participating Banks: Contact participating commercial banks for terms and loan process details. Complete the bank's loan application.
    4. Permits: Apply for any necessary building permits through your local planning/building office. Residents of the County's unincorporated areas can contact the County of San Diego Department of Planning and Land Use
    5. Property Tax Exclusion for Solar: The assessed value of your property will not increase as a result of adding most solar systems, with the exception of swimming pool and hot tub heaters. For more information contact the San Diego County Assessor/Recorder/County Clerk at (858) 505-6262.
  •  Who is eligible to participate?
    All qualified property owners are eligible. Loan funding decisions are made by participating banks and may be based on credit score, lien-to-value of property, or other conditions. Criteria and terms may vary by financial institution. Contact participating banks for more details.
  •  What types of energy efficient improvements will this loan cover?
    The loan will cover many types of energy efficiency and/or solar energy improvements. Please contact participating banks for more details.
  •  How much energy do I use? Is going solar right for me?
    The California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE) can help you answer these questions. CCSE provides property owners with workshops and technical assistance in assessing your energy usage and determining effectiveness of making energy efficient and solar energy improvements. To learn more visit: http://energycenter.org/.
  •  How can I get more information about solar technology?
    The California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE) has a wealth of information about different solar technologies. To learn more visit: http://energycenter.org/ In addition, CCSE hosts a variety of workshops for homeowners, contractors and others interested in solar energy. Click here for a calendar of events.

Contractor Estimates

  •  What type of license does my contractor need?
    Property owners should receive at least three written estimates from a licensed contractor. Your contractor should hold an A, B, C-10 or C-46 license classification from the California Contractors State Licensing Board. More information about license classifications can be found at: http://www.cslb.ca.gov/GeneralInformation/Library/LicensingClassifications/.
  •  How do I find a licensed contractor?
    The California Center for Sustainable Energy has tips and assistance available for consumers in search of a licensed contractor for solar installations. To learn more visit: http://energycenter.org/ . Any contractor with an A, B, C-10 or C-46 license classification from the California Contractors State Licensing Board is qualified. More information about contractor licenses can be found at: http://www.cslb.ca.gov/.

Participating Banks

  •  What banks are participating?
    A number of national and regional commercial banks are partnering with the County to offer loans to property owners for making energy efficient and/or solar energy property improvements. The list of available banks is posted here.
  •  What are the terms of the loan? What is the interest rate?
    Interested property owners should contact participating banks to determine loan terms, interest rates and other details. Criteria and terms may vary by financial institution.
  •  How does this program differ from a home equity loan or line of credit?
    Typically, home equity lines of credit and home equity loans are made for terms of five to seven years. Some of the participating banks have offered home improvement loans for terms up to 20 years. Although the interest rates will vary by bank and the borrower's credit history, the rates on the loans available through the GO SOLAR… SAN DIEGO COUNTY program may be lower than those of home equity loans currently available.
  •  Can I use my property tax bill for repayment?

    Not at this time.  The County soon will be participating in the CaliforniaFIRST program, a statewide property assessed clean energy (PACE) program that allows the property tax bill to be used as a vehicle for loan repayment.

    Property owners in the unincorporated area will be able to access financing through CaliforniaFIRST for certain new energy efficiency and renewable energy property improvements, subject to program eligibility.  Property owners in the City of San Diego or other cities in the region should contact your city to determine if your city will participate.  A list of participating cities is also available on the CaliforniaFIRST website at www.californiafirst.org.

    Additional details about CaliforniaFIRST program eligibility and costs are not available at this time.  Limited information about the CaliforniaFIRST program is available from the program’s website at www.californiafirst.org.

  •  What other programs are available for financial assistance?
    The California Center for Sustainable Energy administers the California Solar Initiative, the region's solar incentive program for existing homes and businesses. All program information and requirements can be seen at: www.gosolar.energycenter.org. For a list of rebate programs and tax incentives available to businesses and homeowners for installing photovoltaic (PV) systems visit: http://energycenter.org/
  •  I represent a bank interested in participating in the program. Who can I contact?
    Members of the banking industry who are interested in joining this program can contact the Treasurer-Tax Collector's Treasury Investment Division at (619) 531-5015. Participation is voluntary and all banks are welcome.

Permits

  •  Do I need a permit for installing photovoltaic (PV) solar equipment on my property?
    Yes, a permit is always required. Although most properties should meet the zoning requirements to install solar equipment, all property owners/contractors should first check with their local planning/building department to verify. For residents of the County's unincorporated area, contact the County of San Diego Department of Planning and Land Use at 1-888-267-8770. Residents of the City of San Diego or other cities in the region should contact your city planning/building department.
  •  Is there a building permit fee for installing photovoltaic (PV) solar equipment on my property? What are the costs?
    For residents of the unincorporated area of the County of San Diego, there is no cost for a building permit. Under the County's Green Building Incentive program, building permit fees are waived for installation of solar equipment. Residents of the City of San Diego or other cities in the region should contact your city planning/building department for permit fee information.

Assessor Exclusion and Other Information

  •  What is the property tax exclusion for solar?
    State law prohibits an increase in the assessed value of your property based on the construction or addition of an "active solar energy system." Although the San Diego County Assessor/Recorder/County Clerk automatically reviews all building permits for any impacts to the assessed value of the property, permits for these systems are typically excluded. For more information contact the San Diego County Assessor/Recorder/County Clerk at (858) 505-6262.
  •  What is considered an "active solar energy system" for the purposes of the property tax exclusion?
    An "active solar energy system" is a system that uses solar devices, which are thermally isolated from living space or any other area where the energy is used, to provide for the collection, storage, or distribution of solar energy. An "active solar energy system" does not include solar swimming pool or hot tub heaters. For more information contact the San Diego County Assessor/Recorder/County Clerk at (858) 505-6262.
  •  Do I need to contact the Assessor/Recorder/County Clerk to confirm that the property tax exclusion applies to my property?
    No. The Assessor/Recorder/County Clerk will automatically review your permit information for any impact to the assessed value of your property. The Assessor/Recorder/County Clerk will contact you in the event that there are any questions about your active solar energy system or if further action is needed.
  •  I have additional questions that are not covered here.
    For more information please contact the County of San Diego at (619) 531-5413 or by e-mail at caomail@sdcounty.ca.gov or contact the California Center for Sustainable Energy at (858) 244-1177 or (866) SDENERGY (866-733-6374).

Disclaimer: The County of San Diego offers GO SOLAR….SAN DIEGO COUNTY to provide general summary information to the public. Some portion of this website may provide links to other Internet sites only for the convenience of visitors to this site. The County of San Diego does not endorse, warrant or guarantee the products, services or information described at these other Internet sites. Additionally, the County of San Diego assumes no responsibility for the use of the information provided and disclaims any and all liability for any claims or damages that may result from providing the website or the information it contains, including any websites and services offered by third parties.