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  • Writer's pictureKyle Bank

Now, more renters can go solar in California

The conventional wisdom is that solar energy is only available to people who own their single-family home. And mostly, the conventional wisdom has been right. But, as of January 2018, California has finally put its long-waiting SOMAH (Solar on Multifamily Affordable Housing) laws and incentives into action, and turned conventional wisdom on its head.

SOMAH is a comprehensive program to make it easier for affordable apartment (and some condo) owners to go solar, and to pass on that solar energy to the people living in their rental properties. It follows and improves on an older California program called MASH. Using a process called "virtual net metering," the energy generated by a solar system on an apartment's roof can be applied directly to the electric bills for all the apartments inside. If the technology interests you, here is more information on California's VNEM programs. It's an ingenious solution to a problem that was unsolvable for a long time.

The second part of SOMAH (and the part that will get you renters solar on your roofs), is a hefty incentive. Property owners that assign more than half of their solar energy to their tenants are eligible to have the majority of their solar system's cost paid by the government! There are some asterisks and footnotes, of course - SOMAH isn't quite as universal as the Solar Investment Tax Credit that everyone in the U.S. is eligible for. But as a step towards making solar energy accessible to millions more people, SOMAH is going to be a huge success.

So, if you are a renter, and you want a part of the savings, and the environmental benefits, of solar energy, speak up! Let your property manager know that you want solar, and that you read about SOMAH. And let me know! At Meta Solar, we talk to property owners all the time, and we'd love to pass along your ideas. We're excited about every single person who we can help go solar.

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