• If you’re a homeowner in San Diego, you may have heard by now about the benefits of installing solar + battery storage at your home. Installing solar and storage can allow homeowners to fully offset their power bills, offset Time of Use Charges, and provide full home backup - and the best thing is, there are financial incentives for installing. There is a government program the Self-Generation Incentive Program or (SGIP) that provides financial incentives to homeowners for the installation of approved technologies that meet the energy needs of a home or business. Let’s take a look at the SGIP program and how homeowners in SDG&E territory can take advantage of the incentives provided by it. 

    What is SGIP?

    The Self Generation Incentive Program is a distributed electric generation incentive program in California that promotes the installation of energy generation and storage systems on businesses, homes and other facilities across the state. It was conceived in 2001 as a response to the energy crisis as a program to reduce peak-load, and complemented the California Energy Commissions’ Emerging Renewables Program. Since then it has been successful in funding thousands of electrical generation and storage projects representing hundreds of megawatts of rated capacity. 

    Since 2001 the SGIP has been modified several times. Before 2006, it supported solar installations, but after the California Solar Initiative was established it no longer provided incentives for solar. In 2009 it was changed again to focus more on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This meant expanding the technologies that qualified for incentives under the program, which included wind, pressure reduction turbines, internal combustion engines, microturbines, gas turbines, energy storage, fuel cells, and energy storage systems. As time has gone on the program has shifted its budget, with now 75% of it’s funds directed towards energy storage projects.

    SGIP gets its funds from utility ratepayers in California. It is both paid for and available to customers of SDG&E, SCE, PG&E and SoCal. The funds are distributed by the utility that the homeowner resides in, unless they live in SDG&E territory, in which case the funds are distributed by the Center for Sustainable Energy (CSE). 

    The Results of SGIP in SDG&E

    As we have said, SGIP has been wildly successful in incentivizing the installation of energy generation and storage systems, resulting in 1,186 MW of cumulative capacity overall. In CSE (Center for Sustainable Energy) territory, which is basically SDG&E territory, SGIP has stimulated the installation of 137.6 MW of capacity, nearly half of which is battery storage. That’s the equivalent of $175 million in incentives paid out, with $13.6 million reserved and $9.5 million pending. So clearly, homeowners are taking advantage of these incentives and it is making a huge impact on how people generate and their store energy. Industrial, commercial, municipal, agricultural, and residential customers are all eligible to receive incentives.

  • SGIP Incentives in SDG&E

     Incentive rates for SGIP are based fully on the pace of deployment; that is, the rate starts out high and declines over time as more generation and storage is deployed. When the funds from a given step are distributed, the rates move to a next step and drop. Based on the implementation and technology, some incentives are allocated more quickly and therefore incentive amounts drop more quickly. Small residential storage funds, which tend to be in great demand, tend to be used up more quickly.

    How To Calculate Your Incentives

    Incentives for SGIP eligible systems are based on the potential capacity of the installed system with kW being the metric for generation projects and (kWh) for battery or energy storage projects. To calculate the potential incentive amount, you multiply the capacity of the potential system by the incentive rate for the category of technology that system falls under. To find the incentive rate for a given technology, you can look here.

    How Are Incentives Paid Out

    Incentives are paid out at different times, based on the size of the system. Smaller systems of 30kW or less have their incentives paid out in one lump sum via wire transfer or check, and cover the full amount of the system upon completion of the installation, a site inspection and verification of the system’s performance. Larger systems, over 30kW in capacity, get 50% of the incentive upon completion of the installation, and then the other 50% is paid out based on performance, over a five-year period following the installation.

    How To Apply for Incentives

    Typically, homeowners who apply for SGIP incentives will apply through their installer. The installer will typically take care of the paperwork and the correspondence in order to get the most funds possible. Stellar Solar’s process for applying for incentives is as follows: 

    1. We apply for a permit for the storage project.
    2. Once we receive a permit, we request the following documents from the customer:
    • A short survey on energy consumption habits
    • A copy of the customers latest energy bill
    • A copy of the customers electrical load documentation

    Once we receive these documents, we submit them along with the following documents to a secure, third-party processor:

    Single Line Diagram ✔

    Spec Sheets for all equipment  ✔

    Contract/Agreement- including the 10 year service Warranty ✔

    CISR form signed- attached, please initial in all the yellow boxes and sign on the last page ✔

    Electrical Load Documentation- download instructions attached

    Energy Audit – take the online home audit and send us a copy of the report  http://homeenergysaver.lbl.gov/consumer/

     Final Job Card  ✔

     Proof of PTO from SDGE

    Once everything is complete on the processor’s end, they send us back an application that all parties sign.

           3.  Once it is signed, we send it back with an audit report. The application is then submitted and the homeowner is put on a waitlist until the funds become available.

           4.   Once the funds are available, they are sent to the customer.

    The key here is that the coordination of these documents is very important to getting your application in line for incentives. That’s why you need a solar company like Stellar Solar to assure your application’s processed in a timely way with no mistakes in order to secure the largest incentive available. 

  • Why You Should Install Solar + Battery Storage

    Now that you know what goes into receiving the SGIP rebate for battery storage, let’s go over again what the benefits are of installing solar + battery storage. There are two main reasons for installing solar + battery storage in SDG&E right now: to provide emergency backup power, and to reduce utility Time-of-Use charges. So installing a battery can both ensure your power, and save you a ton of money. In these uncertain times, doesn’t that sound reassuring?

    Home Battery Backup

    With the rolling blackouts that SDG&E is implementing in times of high fire danger, many more homeowners are looking at solar + battery backup to keep the lights on when SDG&E decides to shut off power. In these times where we are at home much more than usual, this backup power is even more important. If you’re working at home, or schooling from home, the last thing you want is to lose power for a whole day. 

    The way that solar + battery backup works is that the extra power being created by the solar system when the sun is high is stored in the battery. Whenever the utility supply of electricity is interrupted,  the battery automatically  starts up and powers your home with the extra power stored earlier. As long as the sun is shining, your battery is storing power and saving it for whenever you may need it.

    Solar batteries provide emergency backup power to your home by connecting to their own circuit breaker box that is separate from your normal circuit breaker box. That’s because the utility is hooked up to your primary circuit breaker box, so if you need to go on emergency power, the battery power must flow through a separate set of circuit breakers that are connected to your home. This is called a “gateway”, and is required for solar batteries to be able to provide emergency backup power. 

    Your backup battery can be programmed to activate whenever the circuit breaker box connected to the grid goes down. That way, you can have seamless transition to emergency backup power and your flow will go unimpeded. 

    The bottom line with home battery backup is that, if you live in SDG&E territory, especially in the eastern parts of the county, your power WILL be shut off at some point in fire season. It’s not a question of “if,” but of “when.” So if you’re trying to avoid those shutoffs, and save money while you’re doing it, installing solar + battery storage is the most environmentally-friendly and fiscally responsible way to do it.

    Offset Time-of-Use Charges

    The other main reason homeowners in San Diego are installing solar + battery storage is to offset utility Time-of-Use charges. Time-Of-Use charges were implemented in San Diego in the last few years, and result in electricity costing different amounts at different times of day..  Power is priced much higher during the times when the demand for electricity is higher – from 4pm to 9pm from June through October. --  which is when families are home and cooking, watching tv, etc.  It is cheapest overnight when more people are sleeping. 

    With Time-of-Use pricing, homeowners have seen their electric bills spike because it’s difficult to avoid using  essential appliances during these expensive peak times.As a result, even if they already have solar, many homeowners are looking to battery storage to offset these charges.

    Solar + battery can help avoid these high peak charges by programming the battery during expensive peak periods to supply the home with 100% stored solar power (instead of expensive utility power). The next day, the battery is replenished with additional solar power and is ready to offset the next day’s peak period and so on.

    So, you can see that installing solar + battery storage has immense benefits for both your life and wallet. Add the SGIP rebate to that, plus the Federal Solar Tax Credit, and there has never been a better time to install both battery + solar in San Diego. Just be sure to hire an installer that is proven to be successful at installing both technologies in order to make sure that your equipment is installed and programmed properly.

    Stellar Solar has always been San Diego’s premiere solar installer, but is now San Diego’s #1 battery installer as well.  We are a Tesla Powerwall certified installer, and have installed hundreds of batteries on homes across San Diego. We also have an in-house team of SGIP professionals that can fully assist you in the SGIP application and document submission process so it’s all easy for you. We want to help you get the most savings possible, so we know how to get you the highest rebate possible as quickly as possible.

    If you’re thinking about installing solar + battery storage in San Diego and would like to collect the SGIP rebate, call us today. We’re known as San Diego’s best solar company, and now we’re San Diego’s best battery installer as well.


  • About the Author

    Michael Powers


    Michael is one of the founding partners of Stellar Solar. In 2001, he helped launch The Home Depot’s national solar energy program which is now offering home solar through hundreds of stores in nearly a dozen states. He is a writer and marketing professional with over 30 years’ experience in the fields of energy, market intelligence and leadership training. He currently serves as treasurer and board member of Global Energy Network Institute (GENI), a San Diego-based non-governmental organization that advocates linking renewable energy resources around the world using electricity transmission.