Go Solar

A house with solar panels in Arcata

Looking for a Contractor or Vendor? Visit our Contractor and Vendor Network page.

Solar Power in Humboldt County

RCEA understands the importance of all renewable energy, including solar. Although we do not provide solar installations or consultations, we encourage those that are interested in solar to explore the benefits of installing it on homes and businesses. It is always best to make sure you have upgraded your lighting and heating systems first before you start exploring a solar installation. RCEA handles the Net Energy Metering portion of the solar process, which is simply billing our solar customers for the generation portion of the bill.

Solar energy is a renewable resource – the sun can be a cost-effective source of energy and reduce electricity bills. Since emerging in the energy field, solar has become a mature technology. The cost of installing solar has dropped dramatically in recent years. In addition, solar is an important renewable energy resource. Along with wind and water, solar is one of the many renewable resources that produce low greenhouse gas emissions. Visit the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions to learn more about greenhouse emissions and renewable energy.

Interested in learning more about solar?

  • It is best to do energy efficiency measures before designing a solar PV array. On average, saving energy with efficiency costs 83% less than the price to produce that energy with a residential or small commercial solar array. This article from Utility Dive talks more about a comprehensive estimate of efficiency costs.
  • Possible efficiency projects include:
    • Upgrading existing lighting to LED
    • Installing new high-efficiency appliances
    • Installing under-floor or attic insulation
  • Small businesses can contact RCEA’s Customer Energy Solutions program for upgrades to lighting, refrigeration, and other systems.
  • Residential customers can contact our Residential Services team.
    • Call RCEA or visit our residential services page to learn more about free energy advisor consultations and free energy efficiency kits.
  • Get at least 12 months of electric billing data from PG&E to share with your solar contractor or installer.
    • Login to PG&E’s My Energy or establish a new online account
    • On your account dashboard, go to Energy Usage Details > Green Button download my data (scroll down below the chart)
    • Export usage for a range of days from 12 months prior to the most recent available
  • Ensure your system is sized based on your annual electric use.
  • Sizing a PV array to offset 90% of your annual load allows for energy efficiency gains in the future through decreases in your energy consumption and helps ensure that the PV system does not overproduce for your annual use.
  • Before you get started, be sure to read the CALIFORNIA SOLAR CONSUMER PROTECTION GUIDE
  • Engage a qualified licensed contractor early in the process, many offer initial consultations and analysis at low or no cost.
  • Check RCEA’s Contractor and Vendor network page for local installers that have joined our network.
  • Use a licensed contractor, C-10 Electrical Contractors and C-46 Solar Contractors are qualified to install residential and small commercial solar arrays, check the California State Licensing Board (CSLB) website to make sure the license is valid and current.
  • Get at least three bids or quotes from qualified, licensed contractors prior to executing a contract.
  • Find qualified contractors in your area using the GoSolar/California Solar Initiative
  • Make sure that your contractor applies for and receives all required County or City building permits.
  • After a solar array is installed the system will need to be inspected by a building official from the entity that issued the building permit.
  • After the building permit is signed off by a local official, the utility can issue permission to operate your system.
  • Request for Proposals Guide and Template for NONPROFITS
  • Learn about available tax incentives and eligibility requirements, including the Federal Investment Tax Credit, at the Database for State Incentives for Renewable Energy (DSIRE).
  • 12/22/20 update from Solar Power World: The solar investment tax credit (ITC), which was scheduled to drop from 26% to 22% in 2021, will stay at 26% for two more years. Solar projects in all market segments — residential, commercial, industrial, utility-scale — that begin construction in 2021 and 2022 will still be able to receive a tax credit at 26%. All markets will drop to a 22% tax credit in 2023, and the residential market will drop to 0% while the commercial and utility markets will sit at a permanent 10% credit beginning in 2024.
  • Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing may be available to help finance solar projects. Learn more about PACE financing in Humboldt County.
guide sign posts, top to bottom: permits, inspections, licenses, and codes

The California Solar Consumer Protection Guide (PDF) is now accessible at www.cpuc.ca.gov/solarguide. Solar providers must use the updated version of the guide for all solar transactions whose contracts are signed on or after May 1, 2021.

Solar Permitting Guide (PDF) has details about the solar permitting process from the California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research.

Looking for a local solar installer? Check the Contractors State License Board here, and RCEA’s Contractor & Vendor Network page for local installers.

Or search for one in 3 easy steps:

  1. Go to California State License Board
  2. Type in your City or ZIP code
  3. Type in “C-46” in License Classifications for Solar Contractor, or “C-10” for General Electrical Contractors

caution triangleDisclaimer: RCEA does not endorse any one license contractor over another. All licensed contractors listed in CSLB here have met the minimum standards and requirements for licensure. License status is based on exact date and exact time. License status is subject to change. Make sure you check the license status before signing any contracts.


Black calculator with white buttons and suns in the display

PV Watts Calculator allows you to calculate an estimate of energy production per year for a proposed solar array. It is provided by the National Renewable Energy Lab through the US Department of Energy.

If you are interested to see how solar installation fluctuates seasonally and from year to year, visit the Measurement and Instrument Data webpage.

Go Solar California logo

California Solar Initiative is a solar program for community members that are interested in learning about solar basics, attending solar workshops, finding solar installers and much more.  The website provides services for both residents and businesses.

Interested in solar thermal?

One of the many wonders of solar is the ability to convert sunlight into water heating using a solar thermal collector. Visit these pages for details: The California Solar Initiative-Thermal Program/Solar Water Heating and the California Solar Initiative.

grid alternatives logo= plug around the sun

Grid Alternatives is a nonprofit solar organization that works with affordable housing providers and utilities to develop and implement no-cost and low-cost rooftop solar power systems. All while providing hands-on installation experience for job seekers and community volunteers. This website provides services for residents -Single Family Solar, Multifamily Affordable Solar, and Community Solar.

NEM RCEA logo featuring hose, powerline and sun

What is NEM?

 Net Energy Metering– NEM allows solar customers to build credit on their electricity bill for the excess energy they generate. RCEA buys excess generation at retail electricity rates.  This gives solar customers the ability to generate energy when the sun is shining and then use that energy when it is not.

Stay current on regulatory changes to NEM programs in California by visiting the California Public Utilities Commission website.

PG&E Solar provides a description of how solar works and addresses frequently asked questions about installing solar. While browsing you may also find financing options for solar, PG&E incentives for clean energy, solar contractors and more. The website provides services for both residents and businesses.

Guide to Going Solar (PDF) is a quick reference PDF from PG&E that includes a step by step guide.

PG&E also provides more information about solar water heating as part of their services.

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