A common rule of thumb is “reduce before you produce.” That’s because energy efficiency projects tend to be much less expensive than renewable generation projects. The standard “loading order” is to implement energy efficiency projects (lighting, HVAC, behavioral change) before installing solar systems. The following resources will provide individuals and government agencies with information to help them move forward with renewable generation projects.

For community members:

Peninsula SunShares

Neighboring communities throughout San Mateo County and Palo Alto have partnered to launch Peninsula SunShares, a solar group education and purchasing program (bulk-buy) for homeowners. Peninsula SunShares pools the power of the community, enabling the solar industry to offer more competitive pricing - with an additional incentive that provides even better savings as more people contract for solar on their homes.

Two reputable solar installers have been selected through a competitive bidding process by a community evaluation committee. There is no cost to receive a proposal from one or both of the installers and you are not obligated to move forward with a project. Should you decide solar is a good fit for your home, please sign your contract by July 31, 2015 to take advantage of the discounted program pricing.

Go Solar California

The Go Solar California website provides California consumers a "one-stop shop" for information on solar programs, rebates, tax credits, and information on installing and interconnecting solar electric and solar thermal systems. The site has information on program rules, including eligible equipment and standards, as well as information on how to find an eligible, licensed solar contractor.

Home Solar Panels: Pros, Cons and Hidden Costs

Are you debating between buying your own solar panels or leasing? This article lays out the pros and cons of both sides, and will help you decide which option is better for your lifestyle.

For local governments:

Solar Outreach Partnership (SolarOPs) 

To make exploring your options easier, all the resources a community needs to get started with solar are now in one place: the new Department of Energy's SunShot A resource database, calendar of events and trainings, and access to "Ask the Expert" services and technical assistance offerings are all part of the SunShot Initiative's ongoing efforts to provide timely and actionable information to local governments interested in solar energy adoption.

Solar Roadmap

The Solar Roadmap platform organizes national best practices and makes them easily accessible for government agencies, regional organizations, residents, businesses and electric utilities.  Communities who use the Solar Roadmap drive economic growth and environmental improvements through actionable steps to increase cost-effective installation of solar systems. 

Joint Venture Regional Renewable Energy Procurement (R-REP)

Alameda County, Joint Venture Silicon Valley and the Contra Costa Economic Partnership are leading the Regional Renewable Energy Procurement Project (R-REP). This initiative utilizes collaborative procurement to purchase renewable energy systems for public agencies throughout Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties. While it is too late for public agencies to join this particular group procurement effort, they can benefit from the pricing and terms that have been negotiated. This website has many helpful documents, including a guide to best practices for group solar purchases.