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Getting started with solar

The whys and hows of solar and other clean energy

Calculate your solar savings potential.

Benefits of clean energy

Generate your own power

  • Reduce your monthly energy bill.
  • Help California's energy grid.

Improve the value of your property

  • Make an investment that last 25 years.
  • Improve the resale value of your home or business.

Reduce your carbon footprint

  • Help California reduce fossil fuel usage.
  • Reduce your carbon footprint.

How to bring clean energy to your property

important notice icon Note:  Recently, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) issued decisions that impact the state Net Energy Metering (NEM), Net Energy Metering Aggregation (NEMA), and Virtual Net Energy Metering (VNEM) programs. The new programs will impact only new residential solar customers that submit an application after April 14th, 2023 and NEMA/VNEM applications submitted after February 14th 2024.

Download the CPUC fact sheet on NEM changes and why they are being proposed (PDF).

Download the Solar Billing Plan Overview (PDF) and Solar Billing Plan frequently asked questions (PDF).

Prepare your home

Make your home energy efficient before installing a renewable energy source to maximize your investment. Complete a Home Energy Checkup and receive customized recommendations. Take a free Home Energy Checkup.


Find the right contractor

PG&E can recommend resources and questions to ask when choosing a contractor. Find a contractor.


Do the math

Understand the financial considerations and benefits of investing in renewable energy. Explore leasing versus purchasing options and estimate the size of the system using our solar calculator. Visit Financing Options for Solar and Renewable Energy Systems. Customers interested in solar technology to serve multiple eligible meters, such as a farm owner, may want to learn more about Net Energy Metering Aggregation.

important notice icon Note: There is no financial benefit to installing a system larger than your home needs. Compensation for excess generation through Net Surplus Compensation (NSC) is set by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) at roughly two to four cents per kWh. This amount does not justify the cost of an oversized system.


Network upgrades might be needed before you can install a system. Your contractor works with PG&E to determine whether upgrades are required, and to inform you of any additional costs.




How to choose your contractor


Selecting the right contractor is one of the most important decisions you make when installing a renewable energy system. Qualified, licensed contractors save you time and money. Your contractor can:


  • Help select and install the most productive generating system for your home
  • Walk you through financing options for purchasing or leasing
  • Work with PG&E to ensure that your system is interconnected safely to the grid
  • Provide warranty information
  • Create a repair and maintenance schedule
  • Submit an application for the appropriate PG&E incentive program

Follow these steps for choosing the right contractor

Make sure you read your energy system installation contract before signing. Review all warranties and maintenance agreements. Ensure that you receive the final price quote in writing. Only sign the contract after fully understanding the terms and total costs involved.

Never pay a down payment of more than 10 percent of the contract price or $1,000 (whichever amount is less). This regulation is determined by California state law. Don’t make the final payment until the system is fully installed and operating properly.

Solar energy photovoltaic (PV) contractors: Visit the California Distributed Generation Statistics database of installers, contractors and retailers to search for contractors by ZIP Code. Filter results by the average cost per watt to learn how much other customers have paid.

Visit California DG stats

Solar water heating contractors: Visit Go Solar California to find contractors in your area who can install a system.

Find a solar water heating contractor

Your contractor must have an active A, B, C-10 or C-46 license. When you meet the contractor for the first time, ask to view their Contractors State License Board (CSLB) "pocket license" and a photo ID to confirm they are authorized. Contact the CSLB to verify the contractor’s authorization. Visit the Contractors State License Board or call 1-800-321-2752.

In addition, get answers to the following questions:

  • Does the contractor have any Contractors State License Board (CSLB) complaints pending?
  • Is the contractor a member of the California Solar Energy Industries Association (CALSEIA)?
  • Does the contractor have reviews on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website?
  • Does the contractor have workers’ compensation insurance?

Contractors should visit your home and view your past energy usage and future energy needs. The two most important figures that potential solar contractors can provide are:


  • The amount of electricity the system can produce
  • The net cost of the system per watt


This information is used to provide an accurate size of the system you need and the total cost. Each contractor is expected to suggest a similar-sized system for your home’s need. If the bid for the system varies greatly, ask the contractors why.


Compare bids

It pays to be thorough and organized when comparing bids. Take advantage of our helpful bid comparison worksheets:


Solar Energy: Download solar contractor bid comparison form(PDF)
Solar Water Heating: download solar water heating bid comparison form (PDF)

Tips to help you select the winning bid

  • Compare apples to apples. Contractors often use different or confusing terms. Ask for clarification to ensure that you are comparing equal or similar items.
  • Dig for details. Each bid must include a full estimate. All anticipated work and associated costs must be detailed. Ask for any missing information.
  • Use the "Goldilocks" principle. A low bid may be a red flag that the contractor is cutting corners. Similarly, a high bid can mean an unnecessarily oversized system. To compare average project costs to your bids, visit Go Solar California.
  • Ask questions. Don’t hesitate to ask contractors about their businesses, the bid for your system or any terms you don’t understand. Request references from previous customers. Ensure that the previous clients are satisfied and their installed systems are performing well.

Work with PG&E and your contractor

Important roles in bringing clean energy to your property.



  • Prepare your home for energy efficiency.
  • Choose a qualified contractor.


  • Helps choose the right system size for your home.
  • Walks you through the forms.
  • Installs your system safely.
  • Submits application to connect your system to the grid.


  • Reviews your interconnection application.
  • Performs an engineering review.
  • Completes any necessary system upgrades.
  • Gives final permission to operate.

Steps to install and connect clean energy

Key Roles: You

Start by making your home more energy efficient. It will allow you to install a smaller clean energy system and save money. Here’s where to begin:


Complete a free PG&E Home Energy Checkup

The checkup can help you understand how to reduce your electricity and water usage.


Estimate the size of system you need

Use PG&E's solar calculator 


Find a solar contractor who meets your needs and budget requirements

PG&E can help you locate experienced contractors in your area and choose from competing bids.

Key Role: Your contractor

After you and your contractor choose the right clean energy system for your home:

  • The contractor fills out an application to connect your system to the PG&E electric grid.
  • Your contractor processes the application paperwork
  • You sign the Interconnection Agreement.

Here’s what to do next:

Check on clean-energy incentives

Find out about PG&E incentive programs and ask your contractor whether you qualify for rebates.


Ensure that your contractor fills out the Interconnection Agreement application early. This way you can start generating energy shortly after your system passes local city or county inspections.

Key Roles: Your contractor

  • Before installation, talk to your contractor to choose a delivery date and get a time estimate for completion.
  • Your contractor ensures the delivery of the energy system and completes the installation at your home.


Installation generally takes a few days to a few weeks to complete. The timeline depends on any unique conditions of your home or system.

Key Roles: Your contractor and city or county inspectors

  • To obtain a final building permit, your clean energy system must pass city or county inspections for safety and code compliance.

  • For safety reasons, don’t turn on your system until PG&E gives you official written permission to operate it.


The timeframe depends on the city or county requirements. Help avoid delays. Ensure that your contractor has arranged for the building permit and scheduled the inspections.

Key Roles: Your contractor and PG&E

To get permission to operate your system, your contractor submits all required paperwork to PG&E. The paperwork includes:

  • The Interconnection Application
  • A single line diagram of the system
  • A copy of the final building permit

After PG&E approves the documents, we’ll upgrade your meter and send you official written permission to operate.


After PG&E receives the required paperwork from your contractor, permission to operate your system typically takes 5 to 10 business days, up to a maximum of 30 business days. 

You can receive approval faster by email if you include your email address on the Interconnection Application.

During the PG&E engineering system review, we may determine that upgrades are needed to support your clean system. These upgrades may incur a cost and cause delay.

Review the Solar Consumer Protection Guide

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) guide provides the latest solar energy information and installation requirements. Information is available in several languages including English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Tagalog and Vietnamese.

Solar Billing Plan overview


Starting on April 15, 2023, the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) approved the Solar Billing Plan for all new rooftop solar applications.

Track your solar energy use and savings.

Log in to your account to monitor solar use 


  • Track your usage over time to know when to make adjustments
  • Gain insights into weather impacts
  • Plan for upcoming bills

Frequently asked questions

Consider a professionally installed monitoring system if you want to track your solar panel performance more closely. When performance drops, the system monitors which panels aren’t working properly and identifies panels that need repair. Many solar contractors install performance monitoring services as part of your overall solar system package. If you need to add such a service, please note that most professional panel monitoring systems require a monthly subscription fee.


The State of California maintains a list of authorized performance monitoring providers (Performance Monitoring Reporting Services).

Regular cleaning can help optimize your solar system’s production

Dirty solar panels can notably reduce the amount of energy your home generates. Solar panels can become soiled from dust, soot from air pollution, ash from wildfires, bird waste, plant debris (i.e. leaves and twigs from nearby trees), and other sources. Fortunately, regular cleaning can help ensure that your solar panels are generating at their potential.

Your personal safety is most important. You should not attempt to clean your system if it is not safe to do so. A licensed professional can perform cleaning, inspections, and maintenance. Consider scheduling an appointment if your system’s productivity is decreasing.

Have your solar panels regularly inspected and maintained

We suggests that you have your panels inspected every two years, or when you notice a significant drop in performance during clear weather. Only a licensed professional solar contractor should perform system maintenance and inspections. Solar panel inspectors generally check that:


  • Panels are free from soiling or damage
  • Wires and connections are secure
  • The inverter is functioning properly
  • New tree growth or other obstructions shading panels


NOTE: If a leasing company or power purchase provider owns your system, maintenance might be included in your contract. Read your contract for specific terms and conditions.

California continues to experience smoke and ash from large wildfires. These can cause a substantial drop in your solar system’s production. Smoke in the air can lower generation by blocking sunlight from reaching your solar panels. Ash and other particulates from wildfires can settle on solar panels and impede production until the panels are cleaned.

If you notice that your system’s performance is dropping, it may be time for a cleaning to ensure that you are maximizing solar bill savings.

Your personal safety is most important. You should not attempt to clean your system if it is not safe to do so. A licensed professional can perform cleaning, inspections, and maintenance. Consider scheduling an appointment if your system’s productivity is decreasing.

NOTE: If a leasing company or power purchase provider owns your system, maintenance and cleaning may be included in your contract. Read your contract for specific terms and conditions.

More solar resources

Make a plan for going solar

Print a step-by-step checklist to make going solar easy.

Review the solar welcome kit

Download a guide to Net Energy Monitoring, Net Energy Usage Measurement, the monthly billing process, your annual True-Up statement and Net Surplus Compensation.


NEM Welcome Kit for residential customers (PDF)


NEM Welcome Kit for business (ZIP)

Review the Solar Consumer Protection Guide

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) guide provides the latest solar energy information and installation requirements. Information is available in several languages including English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Tagalog and Vietnamese.