San Diego expands access to solar power in low-income communities

San Diego expands access to solar power in low-income communities

SDEP Event

New $10M program to install solar at little to no cost to homeowners

Homeowners in City of San Diego communities who face the highest risk from climate change, yet historically have had lower access to renewable energy, will have the opportunity to install solar energy systems at little to no cost under the new San Diego Solar Equity Program. (

As part of its franchise Energy Cooperation Agreement with the City of San Diego, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) is dedicating $10 million in shareholder funds toward an equity-focused incentive program. SDG&E selected the Center for Sustainable Energy (CSE), a San Diego-based national nonprofit, to design and administer the program to increase access to solar generation for income-qualified homeowners.

The San Diego Solar Equity Program will provide $1 million per year for 10 years to offset the cost of solar installations for income-qualified homeowners located within the city’s Communities of Concern as defined by San Diego’s Climate Equity Index.

The program aims to cover 100% of solar installation costs for systems up to 6.5 kilowatts. It also covers up to $3,500 for electrical panel upgrades for homes that need additional preparation for a solar installation.

“Every neighborhood must benefit from our efforts to fight climate change, especially those most vulnerable to its impacts,” said Council President Sean Elo-Rivera. “This program will bring the advantages of solar power to San Diego residents who otherwise can’t afford it, providing financial savings and environmental rewards at the same time.”

“Ensuring equitable access to rooftop solar was a key element of the franchise agreement between the city and SDG&E that I strongly fought for,” said City Councilmember Raul Campillo. “This program will help individual homeowners and the whole community by expanding access to clean energy. I look forward to working with SDG&E and their partners to ensure this program is a huge success for the next 10 years.”

“It’s important to us the clean energy transition is inclusive – that all residents regardless of where they live and their socioeconomic status have access to carbon-free electricity and the benefits it brings, such as cleaner air which also leads to healthier communities,” said SDG&E Chief Executive Officer Caroline Winn.

“This program lowers the household energy costs of San Diego homeowners in at-risk communities while contributing to the City of San Diego’s ambitious climate goals,” said Center for Sustainable Energy President Lawrence Goldenhersh. “We are excited to apply our 25 years of clean energy expertise here in our hometown.”

The San Diego Solar Equity Program is the result of extensive consultation and engagement with technical and community-based organizations to understand community needs and barriers to solar adoption. More than half of total program funds will go to households with incomes less than 80% of the San Diego County area median income. For a family of four in 2022, 80% of area median income is $104,000.

Interested homeowners and solar installers can sign up online for more information. The program plans to begin accepting applications in September.

Program requirements include:

  • Eligible residences must be owner-occupied, and the solar energy systems must be customer-owned.
  • Either single-family homes, duplexes, quadplexes or manufactured homes qualify.
  • Participants must have a household income less than 120% of the San Diego County area median income. For a family of four in 2022, 120% of area median income is $128,300.
  • Participants must reside in an area of very low, low or moderate access to socioeconomic opportunities as defined by the San Diego Climate Equity Index.
  • Qualifying solar companies must hold an active license from the California Contractors State License Board.
  • Contractors must pay prevailing wages to all installers.
  • Contractors must consult with homeowners on their energy needs and assist with required paperwork.
  • Contractors may qualify for a $1,000 incentive for providing on-the-job training opportunities.


To sign up to receive more information on the program, visit the San Diego Solar Equity Program website.

SDG&E is an innovative San Diego-based energy company that provides clean, safe and reliable energy to better the lives of the people it serves in San Diego and southern Orange counties. The company is committed to creating a sustainable future by providing its electricity from renewable sources; modernizing natural gas pipelines; accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles; supporting numerous non-profit partners; and, investing in innovative technologies to ensure the reliable operation of the region’s infrastructure for generations to come. SDG&E is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE). For more information, visit or connect with SDG&E on Twitter (@SDGE), Instagram (@SDGE) and Facebook.

Center for Sustainable Energy® (CSE) is a national nonprofit that is transforming markets for clean transportation and distributed energy through software-enabled program design and administration. CSE administers a $3 billion portfolio of cutting-edge programs for governments, utilities and the private sector across the U.S. CSE’s independence and data-driven approach have made it a trusted resource and partner for over 25 years. Learn more at