Solar Programs in Palo Alto

Harnessing the power of the sun!

Palo Alto is using clean, renewable electric supplies
 as an integral part of its plans for a more sustainable future.  

We feel investing in solar systems locally and statewide
 is a great way to achieve our environmental goals.

The 60th "birthday" of solar photovoltaics was celebrated
in 2014.  Check out this
excellent historical video  and a
short video created for the birthday event featuring interviews
solar pioneers.

Palo Alto actively supports the maximum economic use of: 

  • Photovoltaic (PV) solar electric energy as a renewable supply resource for the Electric Utility
  • PV solar electric energy as an alternative form of local power generation
  • Solar thermal energy for space heating, space cooling and water heating in local buildings

New solar pv programs under development: Palo Alto is joining Foster City in developing a Solar Group-Buy program which is expected to launch in the spring of 2015. Under a group-buy program, residents register during the enrollment period to get a discounted price for a solar PV system for their home. For more information, please
click here to read the informational report. More information will be posted on this page when the program is launched. Sign up for email notifications of new programs using this link.

New Solar Street Light Pilot: Come view the solar panels installed on nine El Camino Real street lights between Park Ave. and Embarcadero Road. This six-month pilot will help to transform our streetlights into a network of distributed solar power generating assets and will increase Palo Alto's renewable energy production at no cost to the City. Please click here to get the project details, view the live solar energy production and take the survey to provide your feedback.


Local solar plan:
  On April 21, 2014 the Palo Alto City Council approved a resolution to establish the
Local Solar Plan to increase the installation of local solar photovoltaic facilities in order to provide 4 percent of the City’s total energy needs by 2023. Future programs under evaluation include a Community Solar Program, Group-Buy solar discount program and a solar donation program. 

Rebates:  Are still available for PV systems installed on non-residential Palo Alto 
facilities  Customers get rebates from the utilities department for the system installation and then they continue to receive ongoing benefits from the system through net metering.  (Net metering allows the meter to run backwards when the system produces more electricity than the customer uses.)

Local generation:
Large in-town systems to provide electric generation directly to the utility.   Palo Alto's CLEAN (or feed in tariff) program, offers commercial generators the option of signing a long-term contract to sell the renewable energy to the utility as it is produced.

How many so far?
 View a chart showing the number of solar installations in Palo Alto, by quarter, since 1999.

Streamlined permit process: Visit the City's Development Center webpage describing their improved permitting procedure.

Watch an interview with Marketing Engineer Lindsay Joye about solar initiatives in Palo Alto.

Solar Water Heating: You can get rebates for installing solar water heating systems at home or at work.   These systems can help you reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from your natural gas hot water heater (or high costs of an electric hot water heater).  Our required contractor training program ensures that your contractor will do a good job and know how to help you through the rebate process.  Check out this great 6 minute video overview!

Learn more about our renewable energy portfolio:
The City of Palo Alto has a carbon neutral electric utility portfolio.  This means that we have contracts for large amounts of renewable electricity resources, including solar systems, wind farms, hydroelectric projects and landfill gas facilities. Get the full scoop on these resources.

Last Updated: Jan 5, 2015