Daniel Sullivan
Daniel Sullivan President/Founder Sullivan Solar Power View Bio

Electric bills in southern California are high enough to make anyone cringe. In fact, the average electric bill is as much as four times greater than the average in other parts of the country. In response to its enormous energy-use impact, the San Diego City Council and its 1.3 million residents committed to getting 100 percent of that energy from renewable sources by 2035.

4 Facts to Know About Solar in San Diego

  • Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing lets homeowners repay the full cost of their solar systems (plus interest and fees) as an assessment on their property tax bill for up to 25 years.


    PACE financing allows homeowners to finance up to 100 percent of their renewable energy project to overcome the barrier of high out-of-pocket expenses related to solar. Plus, because the PACE assessment is attached to the property rather than the individual, it may give buyers and sellers the option to transfer the remaining balance upon sale. For a list of San Diego area PACE financiers, go to the Center for Sustainable Energy financing search map.

  • The assessed value of your property cannot be increased based on the addition of a solar energy system per state law.


    But be aware that swimming pool and hot tub heaters are exempt from this law.

  • A Berkeley National Laboratory report said that San Diego homes with solar systems appear to experience a “green premium” that places their values above and beyond the values of the energy produced.


    The December 2013 report found that PV premiums in California are strongly linked with solar system size and weakly linked with solar system age – larger systems net larger premiums and older systems net smaller premiums.

  • For homes close to the coastline, western-facing systems may generate more energy than south-facing systems because of the marine layer in the morning and stronger sunshine in the afternoon. Google’s Project Sunroof estimates that 94 percent of rooftops in San Diego are solar-viable.


    Southern California frequently gets early morning clouds and fog that reach several miles inland. It usually burns off by late morning or early afternoon, but the marine layer blocks much of the morning sun from the east. A solar array that faces slightly west may harness more energy than a south-facing array.

IN-DEPTH: San Diego Solar

The city hit grid parity in 2013, meaning homeowners can generate solar power at a cost that is less than or equal to the price of buying power from the utility grid. According to an NC Clean Energy Technology Center report, a home with solar energy in San Diego pays $0.07 per kWh less than a home with grid energy.

Those savings have spurred tremendous growth in rooftop solar installations in San Diego. New residential systems decreased by 36 percent between 2016 and 2017, according to the Center for Sustainable Energy. However, with new legislation requiring new homes to include solar, those numbers will likely increase.


Sources: Equinox Project, 2016; California Solar Statistics, 2016

“We are right in the middle of historical change in the solar industry,” said Daniel Sullivan, the president and founder of Sullivan Solar Power in San Diego. “San Diego has been a leader in renewable energy, particularly solar power, for years. Environment California’s report has ranked San Diego as one of the top solar cities in the country for three consecutive reports and that’s very encouraging.”

Daniel Sullivan

Researchers with the Environment California Research & Policy Center said San Diego now has enough solar energy to power 47,000 homes.

San Diego is a strong national leader in the quest for renewable energy; the Shining Cities 2019 report from Environment America found that San Diego ranks second in the nation for total solar photovoltaics, bested only by nearby Los Angeles. Here are some reasons why San Diego is a hotbed of solar power.

Electricity Prices in San Diego

San Diego is home to some of the highest electricity rates in the nation. Add in the cost of heating a pool, “fueling” an electric vehicle and running air conditioning to battle the southern California heat, and homeowners are looking at jaw-dropping monthly bills.

San Diego’s current average electric rate for most households: $0.23 per kWh. If customers go over a certain baseline, however, those rates increase and can reach up to $0.55 per kWh.

Solar creates an intriguing option to lower those bills.

“Homeowners and businesses that go solar can be enrolled in SDG&E’s net energy metering program,” said Sullivan. “Net metering is an annual billing arrangement with the utilities that allows the solar customer to get credit during the day when their solar power system exports energy to the grid, and then they can use those credits when their solar isn’t powering their needs.”

Across the country and in San Diego, utility companies and the solar industry are in a constant struggle to determine fair net metering rates, solar connection fees and other charges. California’s Public Utilities Commission has consistently supported solar, but it’s important to be aware that the rules for net metering can change.

San Diego’s Photovoltaic Potential

The intense California sun is a boon to those with solar panels, as that bright sunshine spells more affordable power. San Diego currently has more solar rooftops than any other city in California, and with an average of 266 days of sunshine per year, that translates into a great deal of power collected by those panels.


Areas in the northern part of the city, mostly those east of Interstate 5 and away from the coast, tend to be keen on solar power. More affluent areas with newer homes are more likely to have solar panels, as older roofs often need more structural support in order to handle the weight of the solar system, and lower-income areas might have more rentals than homes owned by their residents. Those who live in affluent areas might also have additional burdens on their energy needs, such as multiple air conditioners, electric cars or heated pools.

Regardless of location in San Diego County, solar still makes sense for homeowners who are paying around $150 or more per month on electricity.

Daniel Sullivan

San Diego Policies & Incentives

Solar policies in San Diego are changing rapidly, especially with the 2016 switch to net metering 2.0.
Even as long-standing incentives phase-out, more are waiting to take their place.

“The city of San Diego, county of San Diego and other cities within the county offer property assessed
clean energy (PACE),” Sullivan said. “This unique financing option allows homeowners and businesses
to take out a loan against their property for energy and water efficiency projects, including solar power.
No credit score is required and the loan is paid once or twice a year on property taxes.”

Those who see solar as an impossible goal can find help as well.

“Low-income homeowners who live in areas of revitalization can be eligible for free solar power installations through GRID Alternatives, a national nonprofit that brings solar to those who need it the most,” Sullivan said. “And they do it all with the help of community volunteers and job trainees, who can use the experience to help them get jobs in the rapidly growing solar industry.”

Finally, don’t forget the federal tax credit, which covers 26 percent of the total solar system cost; it was recently extended through 2020. Here are a few other potential policies that homeowners in San Diego might want to explore:

SASH: Single-family Affordable Solar Homes

This policy is designed to bring solar to those who own their own home and meet certain eligibility requirements, including financial need; the homeowner’s income must be 80 percent or less of the Area Median Income.

Green Building Incentive Program

Offered through the San Diego County government, this program offers various incentives to building green, including a break on permit and planning costs when installing solar panels on residential homes.

Self Generation Incentive Program

Those who choose to add advanced power storage to their solar system can take advantage of this incentive, which offers a rebate per watt, with the amount dependent upon the load profile and other factors.

Sustainable Building Expedite Program

Those who are using solar systems to generate a minimum portion of their electricity are eligible for a fast-tracking of their permit application by the City of San Diego; this helps homeowners get a step ahead on their cost savings.

Permitting & Interconnection Ease in San Diego

The City and County of San Diego have both streamlined the solar permitting process.

The City of San Diego has a specific permitting desk dedicated to solar whereas other cities have only a general permitting-submittal area. It also has multiple locations to submit permits, making it easier for solar companies to get in and out of the permitting office in a timely manner. San Diego County and a couple other jurisdictions allow online solar permits for many roof-mounted solar projects, avoiding the need to send a solar representative down to a permitting office, allowing solar companies to save money and pass along those savings to customers.

Daniel Sullivan

In addition to steps the city and county have taken to make permits easier, there are also potential ways to get around the previous restrictions on solar panel placement.

“The city of San Diego has a process to review requests for variances with CAL FIRE guidelines,” Sullivan said. “CAL FIRE code states that some roof spaces can vent in different locations so that solar panels can be mounted in otherwise restricted areas. Allowing solar to be installed in a larger area allows homeowners to offset a higher percentage of their electric bill, and makes San Diego more solar-friendly.”

Solar Companies in San Diego

American River Electric
  • Est. 2009
  • 12808 Texana St.
    San Diego, CA 92129
  • 858-395-9911

American River Electric is a full-service solar company doing installation, maintenance and warranty work. The company has installed solar systems from San Diego to Sacramento and in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Baker Electric Solar
  • Est. 1997
  • 2140 Enterprise St.
    Escondido, CA 92029
  • 877-543-8765

Baker Electric Solar offers ground- and roof-mounted solar panels. They design custom solar energy solutions for each home to determine which solar options are best for the customer.

Built Green California
  • Est. 2010
  • 9520 Padgett St, Ste. 111
    San Diego, CA 92126
  • 619-591-8707

More than 50 years of combined building and maintenance experience. Built Green California is among the state’s preferred solar vendors and uses only American-made products and materials.

Calafata Construction & Electric, Inc.
  • Est. 2009
  • 4325 Cass St.
    San Diego, CA 92109
  • 619-279-3006

Calafata Construction is a family owned and operated business specializing in several forms of construction from carpentry to solar. Additional services include electrical installation, interior lighting and more.

California Coast Builders, Inc.
  • Est. 2009
  • 2204 Garnet Ave, Suite 204
    San Diego, CA 92109
  • 858-750-2777

California Coast Builders is a full-service contractor that specializes in solar, windows and coolwall. Its service area includes San Diego, Orange and Riverside Counties.

California Solar Concepts
  • Est. 2012
  • 2534 State St., Suite 430
    San Diego, CA 92101
  • 888-444-5485

California Solar Concepts specializes in ‘solar smart’ lease-to-own programs with zero-down. Features SunPower panels in their installations.

CM Solar Electric
  • Est. 2013
  • 7933 Silverton Ave., #701
    San Diego, CA 92126
  • 619-488-1117

A member of Associated Builders and Contractors, the company employs certified electricians to ensure that solar panels are working at top performance. Numerous financing options are available.

Complete Solar
  • Est. 2009
  • 1850 Gateway Dr., Suite 450
    San Mateo, CA 94404
  • 877-299-4943

Complete Solar assesses home, roof type and structure, house location and electricity usage and needs in one visit. Quote includes savings projections, shade analysis and a solar system design.

Countywide Mechanical Systems, Inc.
  • Est. 1998
  • 1400 N. Johnson Ave., Ste. 114
    El Cajon, CA 92020
  • 619-449-9900

Countywide Mechanical Systems offers installation, service, and ongoing maintenance of residential and commercial solar systems. Countywide is part of the MMC Corp family of companies, which is 100 percent employee owned.

Current Solar Contracting
  • Est. 2009
  • 2775 Kurtz St, Suite 12
    San Diego, Ca 92110
  • 619-272-0303

A family owned and operated business with more than 17 years of combined electrical and solar experience. Current Solar specializes in both residential and commercial solar PV installation.

Delta Solar Electric
  • Est. 2007
  • 4203 Genesee Ave., Ste. 103
    San Diego, CA 92117
  • 858-488-4220

Delta Solar Electric is a full-service solar PV residential and commercial installer. Delta Solar is partnered with a local credit union that offers low-interest solar specific financing of up to 100 percent of the system cost.

Forterre Design Development Consulting
  • Est. 2011
  • 2307 Fenton Pkwy., Ste. 107-206
    San Diego, CA 92108
  • 619-858-0930

Forterre’s management team had more than 50 years of combined construction and power generation experience. The company specializes in solar awnings, patio structures and carports.

Green Energy EPC
  • Est. 2011
  • 1565 Creek St., Ste. 103
    San Marcos, CA 92078
  • 619-630-5129

Green Energy EPC offers design, installation, construction and testing services of solar panels, as well as coordination of the proper inspections. They process grants, rebates and other financial incentives for customers.

Green Homes of California
  • Est. 2010
  • 306 W. El Norte Pkwy., #N-426
    Escondido, CA 92026
  • 855-999-1199

Over the last 10 years, Green Homes of California has installed more than 5,000 solar systems, including those for hot water and pool heating. They handle design, installation and repair services.

GM Renovations, Inc.
  • Est. 1990
  • 3758 Beta St.
    San Diego, CA 92113
  • 619-838-5598

GM Renovations offering help in selecting and installing solar PV systems. The company is general contractor additionally providing electrical, plumbing and kitchen remodeling services.

Home Energy Systems
  • Est. 2001
  • 10969 San Diego Mission Road
    San Diego, CA 92108
  • 619-692-2015

Home Energy Systems offers a 10-year warranty on workmanship and a 25-year warranty on panels. Most of their business comes from referrals, and they never contract out installations.

Horizon Solar Power
  • Est. 1999
  • 27368 Via Industria, Ste. 101
    Temecula, CA 92590
  • 951-926-1176

Serves Southern California area from offices in Temecula. Fast installation, easy financing with no money down and a lifetime guarantee on their solar panel systems.

Jamar Power Systems
  • Est. 1984
  • 9830 Prospect Ave., Ste. D
    Santee, CA 92071
  • 619-448-7770

Jamar Power Systems performs solar power installations, general electrical wiring and electrical integration. The company is based in San Diego County but services all of Southern California.

Lightning Solar
  • Est. 1978
  • 9213 Dunbarton Road
    Santee, CA 92071
  • 619-449-3649

Lightning Solar handles solar PV, solar pool heating and solar hot water systems throughout San Diego County. The company offers free consultations with a written solar estimate.

Mark Snyder Electric
  • Est. 1980
  • 12900 Brookprinter Place, Ste. 200
    Poway, CA 92064
  • Poway, CA 92064

Headquartered in Poway, Mark Snyder Electric provides electrical contracting services to San Diego, La Jolla, Encinitas, Escondido, Carlsbad, San Marcos and other Southern California locations. Services include solar installations and repair, and smart home integration.

Millholland Electric, Inc.
  • Est. 1990
  • 1475 N. Cuyamaca St.
    El Cajon, CA 92020
  • 858-541-1097

Specializes in residential, commercial, and industrial for solar, electrical, audio/video and data. Offers one-stop-shopping for design and installation of solar panels, as well as roofing and electrical services.

Mission Valley Roofing, Inc.
  • Est. 1977
  • 9908 Prospect Ave.
    Santee, CA 92071
  • 619-449-9744

Mission Valley Roofing is a small company offering solar installations as well as full-service roofing services. The company services the San Diego area out of its office in Escondido.

Nakhshab Development & Design
  • Est. 2003
  • 2900 4th Ave., Ste. 100
    San Diego, CA 92103
  • 619-255-7257

Nakhshab Development & Design offers a comprehensive collection of services including complete design and build, structural engineering, construction, sustainability and LEED services. The company has been published in a number of publications such as San Diego Home & Garden, Ranch & Coast, Union Tribune, and Presidio Sentinel.

Natural Energy USA
  • Est. 1977
  • 804 N. Twin Oaks Valley Road, Ste. 116
    San Marcos, CA 92069
  • 800-868-1209

Natural Energy USA specializes in commercial, residential and specialty solar energy applications. The company has serviced more than 38,000 customers throughout Southern California.

OneRoof Energy
  • Est. 2009
  • 4445 Eastgate Mall Road, Ste .240
    San Diego, CA 92121
  • 855-697-2348

Complete solar services provider offering system design, financing, installation, project management, monitoring and maintenance. Named “Best Residential Solar Contractor in the US” by Solar Power World Magazine in 2013.

Perk Solar
  • Est. 2005
  • 1572 Villa Crest Dr.
    El Cajon, CA 92021
  • 619-894-9512

Perk Solar specializes in residential and commercial solar PV installation. The company uses Enphase microinverters and solar modules.

Rader Electric, Inc.
  • Est. 1996
  • 3819 Strong Dr.
    San Diego, CA 92111
  • 619-272-7585

Rader Electric provides a wide range of solar-relates services including custom PV solar design, project management and installation of roof and ground mounts. A family-owned and operated San Diego business.

RC Energy Solutions
  • Est. 2008
  • 1215 San Elijo Road
    San Marcos, CA 92078
  • 760-504-9273

Located in San Marcos, RC Energy Solutions offers solar design and professional installation. Additional services include window replacement, roofing and home insulation.

San Diego Energy Solutions
  • Est. 2015
  • 525 C St., Ste. 405
    San Diego, CA 92101
  • 760-544-3025

San Diego Energy Solutions designs, supplies and installs residential and commercial solar systems. Other services include LED lighting, roofing, whole house fans and pool thermal.

San Diego Solar Install, Inc.
  • Est. 2009
  • 8231 Beaver Lake Dr.
    San Diego, CA 92119
  • 877-660-7374

San Diego Solar Install offers lifetime monitoring as well as 25-year warranties on panels and inverters. Financing options are available through a credit union.

Semper Solaris
  • Est. 2012
  • 3111 Camino Del Rio North, Ste. 400
    San Diego, CA 92108
  • 619-432-4222

Owned by a veteran, the company offers discounts for police, firemen and military. In addition to a free energy analysis, the company also offers Internet coupons and referral programs for added savings.

Solaire Energy Systems
  • Est. 2006
  • 4562 Alvarado Canyon Road, Ste. R
    San Diego, CA 92120
  • 619-567-7366

This company uses no subcontractors, offers a 25-year warranty on panels and a 10-year warranty on the entire system. The company also takes care of all incentive and tax paperwork.

Solar 360
  • Est. 2012
  • 1912 Batavia St., Unit G
    Orange, CA 92865
  • 714-202-4835

Solar 360 has installed more than 10,000 panels, both residential and commercial, in the San Diego area. Offers analysis of short-term and long-term savings.

Solar Alliance Energy
  • Est. 2003
  • 8989 Rio San Diego Dr., Ste. 345
    San Diego, CA 92108
  • 619-237-5258

Solar Alliance has installed more than 2,000 residential solar systems in Southern California. Additionally, it has developed more than 360MW of renewable energy projects that were sold to utilities and large independent power producers.

Solare Energy Inc.
  • Est. 1989
  • 9520 Padgett St., Ste. 107
    San Diego, CA 92126
  • 858-547-3800

Solare Energy specializes in residential and commercial solar panel installation. It offers integrated energy solutions that combine solar with various energy efficiency measures customized to each client’s particular energy needs.

SolarMax Technology, Inc.
  • Est. 2008
  • 8825 Production Ave.
    San Diego, CA 92121
  • 858-444-2999

Zero down financing available for both residential and commercial customers, as well as referral rewards for existing customers. Additional locations in Riverside, Temecula and Diamond Bar.

  • Est. 2001
  • 9338 Bond Ave.
    El Cajon, CA 92021
  • 619-743-9193

SolarTech is a full-service, turnkey operation, allowing homeowners to simply turn on the system when installation is complete. They also handle pool heating and water heating systems.

Southwestern Solar Systems
  • Est. 1983
  • 9302 Bond Ave.
    EI Cajon, CA 92021
  • 888-319-2188

Southwestern Solar Systems sells only products manufactured in the continental United States such as SolarWorld, SMA and others. Over half of Southwestern’s staff has worked for the company for more than 25 years.

Southwest Solar Guys
  • Est. 2009
  • 4445 Eastgate Mall, #200
    San Diego, CA 92121
  • 858-222-0035

The Southwest Solar Guys professional team has more than 30 year of experience in the construction, electrical and solar industries. The company is a Green Energy System Integrator that offers solar PV, thermal solar systems, and other products and services.

Stellar Solar
  • Est. 1998
  • 5451 Avenida Encinas, Ste. A
    Carlsbad, CA 92008
  • 866-787-6527

Home of San Diego’s only Fast Track Solar program, Stellar Solar offers fast installation as well as favorable financing terms, including zero-down leasing. The company has installed more than 80,000 solar panels to date.

Sullivan Solar Power
  • Est. 2001
  • 8949 Kenamar Dr., Ste. 101
    San Diego, CA 92121
  • 858-271-7758

Sullivan Solar Power has installed more than 4,500 solar systems in Southern California. They offer turnkey systems, proactively monitor systems and offer a money back guarantee.

Suncrest Solar
  • Est. 2110
  • 9920 Scripps Lake Dr., Ste. 106
    San Diego, CA 92131
  • 800-376-4113

In addition to designing and installing systems with industry-standard warranties, the company offers a portal through which customers can see their power usage and production. Offices throughout California.

SunFusion Solar
  • Est. 2008
  • 7766 Arjons Dr., Ste. B
    San Diego, CA 92126
  • 858-215-6703

Includes many solar products, especially for residential customers and agricultural businesses. Cleaning and maintenance services are also offered.

Sunline Energy
  • Est. 2013
  • 7546 Trade St.
    San Diego, CA 92121
  • 858-263-1668

Uses high-quality components and ensures all installations exceed minimum electrical standards. Offers several examples of previous installations for comparison.

West Coast Solar
  • Est. 1996
  • 10744 Prospect Ave.
    Santee, CA 92071
  • 619-557-0446

Family owned and operated, West Coast Solar specializes in solar panel installation for homes and businesses throughout San Diego County. The company offers a wide variety of solar components from companies such as Enphase, Suntech, Kyocera, Sanyo and more.

Zing Solar
  • Est. 2007
  • 3929 Calle Fortunada, Ste. A
    San Diego, CA 92123
  • 888-244-0231

Zing Solar offers a comprehensive five-step plan that starts with design and rooftop renderings, followed by installation, locking in a utility rate and referring neighbors for additional discounts. Financing options include power purchase agreements (PPA), solar service agreements (SSA), leases, and purchases.