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Looking Back on the New Solar Homes Partnership Program

By Media Office Staff

California far-and-away leads the nation in the number of homes with installed rooftop solar. It was helped to the top by aCalifornia Energy Commission program that provided financial incentives for homeowners, builders, and developers to include solar energy systems on new, energy-efficient homes.


The New Solar Homes Partnership (NSHP) program, which was launched in 2007, contributed to a self-sustaining solar homes market.

“When the program began, solar hardware was still relatively expensive, so incentives were a critical boost needed to expand solar energy capacity in the state,” said Geoffrey Dodson, who manages the NSHP program for the CEC. “Today, there are approximately 1.3 million homes in California with solar energy systems installed. We’ve also been able to work closely with the building industry over the years as it learns and adapts to solar as a standard feature in new construction.”

The NSHP is credited with helping boost the new home solar penetration rate in California from less than 1 percent when the program began. The program also laid the critical groundwork that led to the building industry supporting the solar mandate for new homes required under the 2019 Building Energy Efficiency Standards. Nationally, the median price of solar plummeted from about $9.80 per watt in 2007 to about $3.80 per watt in 2020.

“Rooftop solar is an excellent gateway for getting customers to do the next thing, which is investing in energy storage and in electric vehicles,” said CEC Chair David Hochschild. “There is strong anecdotal evidence that when people get rooftop solar, they pay a lot more attention to their energy savings and want to do the next thing.”

NSHP is also credited with helping to expand solar access for affordable housing communities such as the Spring Lake Affordable Housing Community in Woodland, and the Heritage Commons Affordable Housing Community in Dixon.

The $400 million program was made available to customers of four investor-owned utilities in California – Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric, and Bear Valley Electric Service.

To date, more than $240 million in incentives have been paid out through the NSHP. The last incentive payments are scheduled to go out by Dec. 31 when the program ends.

To learn more, go to the NSHP presentation at the October 2021 business meeting beginning at 11:55.

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