Solar power is rapidly increasing in popularity across Santa Barbara County. As homeowners are faced with growing electricity costs, many are looking for ways to save money when it comes to their utility bills. That’s where solar power comes in. Below, we’ve compiled the main factors to be aware of when researching the transition to solar power in Santa Barbara.
Electricity rates in California are some of the most expensive in the country, but what about solar power in Santa Barbara? Knowing energy rates in the state in which you live is handy knowledge, but to make the right decision for your home, it’s important to understand the numbers near you.
Based on data from 2015, here are the main figures:
The cost of electricity (from the utilities) in California is about middle of the road—as of April, Californians are paying about 12.4 cents per kWh. Though that isn’t as high as places like New York (17.39 per kWh), California certainly isn’t the cheapest place to pay a monthly electric bill. The utilities that serve Santa Barbara are Southern California Edison (SCE) and Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), both of which have different electricity rate structures and policies regarding solar power.
Based on SCE’s Standard Residential Rate Plan, kWh prices are assigned based on a tier system. The tier you fall into, 1-4, is based on how much energy you consume. If you don’t use much electricity each month, you will fall into Tier 1, which has a baseline rate of 16 cents per kWh. If you require more energy, you may find yourself paying anywhere from 23 cents per kWh on Tier 2, up to 30 cents per kWh at Tier 4.
Much like SCE, PG&E also uses a tiered rate system, though PG&E divides users into 5 tiers. While PG&E’s rate plan is different from SCE, the baselines and electricity allocations are still determined by the CPUC. The CPUC regulates the point at which the prices begin to jump to the next tier, but PG&E decides where the baseline prices begin.
As of June 2016, PG&E has set the baseline price for Santa Barbara at 18 cents per kWh (Tier 1) and at the high end, charge up to 39 cents per kWh (Tier 5).
Like SCE, PG&E also provides the several TOU rate plans. Depending on the plan picked by the customer, one can opt to pay as low as 9 cents per kWh, for off-peak energy usage over the summer (Tier 1). or as high as 60 cents per kWh for on-peak energy usage over the summer (Tier 5). Ultimately, your cost will depend on how much electricity you consume, the time of the year and time of the day.
Power is expensive, and the more you need, the more you pay. For many homeowners, solar offers an attractive alternative by completely eliminating, or at least significantly decreasing power bills. Luckily, there are some important rebates and incentives that are available to homeowners looking to install solar panels in Santa Barbara.
If your solar panels are producing more energy than you need for your residence, you may be eligible to be paid for that surplus of power that you’re contributing to the grid.
SCE and PG&E both offer net metering plans that balance your overall bill against your solar power contribution at the close of a 12-month cycle. Both companies will pay you for your power if you’ve provided more than the cost of your fees and usage; SCE also offers a roll-over credit option
Solar power isn’t necessarily ideal for everyone. Because of the nature of the technology, the amount of sun you get on your panels will dictate how much energy you receive.
While several local factors—how much shade the trees around your home provide, angle of your roof, size of your home—will impact how much power your panels will generate, the amount of sun your neighborhood receives is measurable and fairly consistent year to year.
Based on maps that show sunlight distribution and kWh generated by the sun by area per day, we can anticipate how much energy solar panels in Santa Barbara can produce.
According to the Photovoltaic Solar Resource of the United States, the Santa Barbara sun can produce 6 to 6.5 kWh per day, the second-highest on the list! This suggests that a solar Santa Barbara is a viable option for many homeowners in this region.