Solar in Palo Alto

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Solar energy is a clean, renewable resource that can efficiently heat water and provide electric power. The City of Palo Alto Utilities (CPAU) offers a variety of informative resources to residents and businesses interested in solar energy.

Background and Benefits

About a third of Palo Alto's electricity demand is met by utility-scale solar and 100 percent of Palo Alto's annual electricity demand is met by carbon neutral supply, meaning supply that is sourced from renewable or hydroelectric sources. Residential and commercial customers may still want to consider going solar. 

How a Grid-Tied Rooftop Solar System Works

Electricity generated by rooftop solar powers your home the same way that electricity coming from the grid does.  First, a rooftop solar system converts sunlight into direct current (DC) electricity.  An inverter then converts DC electricity from your solar panels into alternating current (AC) electricity, the type of electricity used by appliances, lights and other devices in your home. Your home's main electric panel connects power supplies — such as rooftop solar and the utility grid — to circuits in your home. Those circuits include outlets that you can plug appliances and devices into, as well as switches that you can use to direct electricity where you need it. Your utility meter measures electricity that flows between your electric panel and the grid. The type of meter you have depends on which Net Energy Metering (NEM) program you are served by. Your utility, City of Palo Alto Utilities (CPAU), provides electricity from the grid when your solar panels do not produce enough to meet your needs and compensates you for excess electricity that you export to the grid when your system generates more than you are using.

News & Updates

January 2021. New Solar Project Adds 26 MW to Palo Alto’s Energy Portfolio

With the addition of the Rosamond Central solar project in Kern County to CPAU's energy portfolio, solar energy will power nearly half of Palo Alto's electric needs. New Release Announcement. 


October 2020. Commit to clean energy by making your home resilient to climate change

For the sixth year in a row, the City of Palo Alto is participating in Bay Area SunShares, a solar group-buy program available to residents of nine Bay Area counties, offering discounts on solar and battery storage from vetted contractors.  Sign your solar contract by December 31, 2020 to take advantage of program discounts. To learn more, visit our SunShares page or contact utilityprograms@cityofpaloalto.org

September 2019. City of Palo Alto and HP Inc. Complete One of the Largest Solar Array Projects

The project combines rooftop and carport solar photovoltaic (PV) systems containing 3,372 solar panels which are projected to generate 2,355 megawatt hours (MWh) of energy. That is equivalent to enough electricity to power 263 average Palo Alto homes for a year. The system is expected to offset 1,700 metric tons of carbon dioxide; a significant commitment to protecting the environment.