California Solar Consumer Protection Guide Overview & FAQ
Power your home with solar. Check out the California Solar Consumer Protection Guide for the latest solar energy information & installation requirements.
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) presents the California Solar Consumer Protection Guide. The CPUC recommends that solar providers give out this guide during their first contact with potential customers.
Solar providers submitting applications to interconnect residential solar customers in the service areas of Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), Southern California Edison (SCE), and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) are required to collect customer initials and a signature on the California Solar Consumer Protection Guide.
Getting Started with the Solar Consumer Protection Guide
Interconnection applications with solar contracts signed on January 1, 2021 or later must include either of these options:
- The 2021 version of the guide, whether signed electronically or on paper.
- The 2020 version of the guide plus the addendum provided below. This option may only be used if the guide is signed on paper, and has been provided to accommodate solar providers who may already have printed large quantities of the 2020 version. This option will no longer available after December 2021.
California Solar Consumer Informational Guide
- English Solar Consumer Protection Guide (January 2021, version 2)
- Chinese Solar Consumer Protection Guide (January 2021, version 2)
- Korean Solar Consumer Protection Guide (January 2021, version 2)
- Spanish Solar Consumer Protection Guide (January 2021, version 2)
- Tagalog Solar Consumer Protection Guide (January 2021, version 2)
- Vietnamese Solar Consumer Protection Guide (January 2021, version 2)
Version 2 of the 2021 Solar Consumer Protection Guide contains an updated description of the federal investment tax credit (see page 13).
Addendum for use with printed 2020 versions of the guide for contracts signed in 2021:
- English Solar Consumer Protection Guide 2020 Addendum
- Chinese Solar Consumer Protection Guide 2020 Addendum
- Korean Solar Consumer Protection Guide 2020 Addendum
- Spanish Solar Consumer Protection Guide 2020 Addendum
- Tagalog Solar Consumer Protection Guide 2020 Addendum
- Vietnamese Solar Consumer Protection Guide 2020 Addendum
Audio recording of the guide (in English) available by phone toll-free at: 855-955-1535
Audio recording of the guide (in English) available below:
- Section 1 - Introduction to the Guide
- Section 2 - Watch Out for False Claims
- Section 3 - Know Your Rights
- Section 4 - Ask Solar Providers These Initial Questions Before You Sign a Contract
- Step 1 - Is Solar a Good Fit for Me?
- Step 2 - Understand Roles and Solar Process
- Step 3 - Find a Qualified Solar Provider
- Step 4 - Compare Your Financing Options
- Step 5 - Learn About Electricity Bill Savings
- Step 6 - Carefully Read All Paperwork
- Step 7 - Review Additional Resources
- Step 8 - "Before You Sign" Checklist
- Step 9 - Sign This Guide
Additional Solar Resources
Solar Providers FAQs Guide
PG&E, SCE, and SDG&E created Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) to help solar providers navigate the new solar consumer protection requirements in the interconnection portals.
- PG&E’s Solar Consumer Protection Requirements FAQs are on this webpage. To access the FAQs, go to the “Frequently asked questions (FAQ) about the NEM2 program” section and click on the tab “How do I comply with solar NEM consumer protection requirements?”
- SCE’s Solar Consumer Protection Requirements FAQs are on this webpage. To access the FAQs, go to the “Related Links” section and click on “SCE Consumer Protection Workshop.”
- SDG&E’s Solar Consumer Protection Requirements FAQs are on this webpage.
CPUC Procedural Background
Decision (D.)16-01-044 directed CPUC Energy Division staff, in collaboration with stakeholders, to consider net energy metering (NEM) consumer protection measures. In September 2018, the CPUC adopted Decision (D.)18-09-044, which establishes a process for creating a solar information packet for consumers. The solar information packet that was created through this process is now called the “California Solar Consumer Protection Guide.” In February 2020, the CPUC adopted Decision (D.)20-02-011 which modifies Decision (D.)18-09-044.
D.18-09-044 requires that solar providers upload three documents before interconnecting a residential solar customer to the electric grid in PG&E, SCE, and SDG&E territories. These documents include: signed pages of the CPUC solar information packet, the solar installation contract, and the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) Solar Disclosure Document.
D.18-09-44 authorizes an evaluation of the NEM successor tariff (NEM 2.0). As part of this evaluation, focus groups were conducted about the California Solar Consumer Protection Guide, version 2. The focus group methods and findings are presented in this Solar Consumer Protection Guide Research Findings Memo. They are also summarized in these slides from the public workshop about the study.
The CPUC’s Energy Division mailed the following letters regarding the solar information packet to service lists R.14-07-002 and R.12-11-005:
- October 29, 2020: Energy Division Letter on an extension until January 1, 2021 of the requirement to use the September 2020 version of the Solar Consumer Protection Guide, in compliance with D.20-20-011 OP3.
- September 29, 2020: Energy Division Letter on an extension until October 30, 2020 of the requirement to use the September 2020 version of the Solar Consumer Protection Guide, and an additional extension until January 4, 2021 for SDG&E to reconfigure its interconnection portal in compliance with D.20-20-011 OP3 and OP4.
- June 5, 2020: Energy Division Letter on an extension until September 30, 2020 to reconfigure interconnection portals in compliance with D.20-02-011 OP3 & OP4
- January 15, 2020: Energy Division Letter on additional extension for wet signature requirement.
- September 27, 2019: Energy Division Letter on 120-day extension for wet signature requirement.
- August 30, 2019: Energy Division Letter on a time extension for release of the translated versions of the solar information packet.
- June 14, 2019: Energy Division Letter on a time extension for release of the English-language version of solar information packet.
PACE Financing and Legal Assistance For Solar Programs
Free legal assistance is now available for customers experiencing legal or financing challenges with Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing. PACE is commonly used to finance rooftop solar projects and energy efficiency upgrades. If customers believe their PACE contracts are unfair or that their contractors misrepresented this program or failed to perform the required work, those consumers can obtain legal advice regarding their rights and potential remedies.
For legal assistance, please contact the following law firms:
- Housing & Economic Rights Advocates (HERA) - Statewide - http://heraca.org/
- Public Counsel - Los Angeles County - http://www.publiccounsel.org/
- Legal Aid Society of San Diego – San Diego County - https://www.lassd.org/
- Inland Counties Legal Services – San Bernardino and Riverside Counties - https://www.inlandlegal.org/
- Bay Area Legal Aid – Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara Counties - https://baylegal.org/
- Watsonville Law Center – Santa Cruz, Monterey, and San Benito Counties - https://www.watsonvillelawcenter.org/
Once you are able to establish contact with one of the firms above, an attorney will contact you to discuss your rights and potential remedies with you.
You can also file a complaint with the California Department of Business Oversight, which oversees PACE program administrators. And as appropriate, you should consider filing a complaint with the Contractors State Licensing Board, which oversees contractor issues.