The price of a solar photovoltaic (PV) system is determined by numerous factors, including system components and configuration, the difficulty of installation and available incentives. The cost of a solar PV system is measured in dollars per watt. The current average installed cost per watt for a multifamily solar PV system is $2-4 per watt. This means the average 70-kW multifamily system will cost $140,000-$280,000, prior to tax credits and incentives.

Visit California Distributed Generation Statistics website to view the current average cost of SOMAH projects in your area.

Visit California DG Stats

The SOMAH application process requires a moderate investment of time to gather information and documentation, complete forms and obtain multiple bids. Property owners can designate a third party, such as their contractor, to complete the application for them, but should still expect to dedicate staff time to overseeing the project and meeting property owner requirements.

Further, SOMAH applicants applying for systems 10 kW or larger are required to submit an application deposit. The application deposit can be paid by the property owner, or a third party on their behalf. The amount of the application deposit is based on system size.

Once the installed SOMAH installation has been approved for incentive payment, the application deposit will be returned in full.

Application deposits

kW ≤

Deposit

10-50

$1,250

50-100

$2,500

100-250

$5,000

250-500

$10,000

500-1000

$20,000

The SOMAH program provides fixed, upfront, capacity-based incentives for qualifying solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. Incentive levels are based on:

  • The percentage of a solar energy system’s output allocated to tenants versus common areas
    • A minimum of 51% must be allocated to tenants
    • Incentives are larger for the tenant portion of the system and may cover up to the full cost of tenant load
  • Whether the system will be funded by the investment tax credit (ITC) or low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC)
  • Did you know? SOMAH incentives will decrease by 5% from July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021. The annual reduction occurs at the 12-month point from the program launch date, which is July 1, 2019 and is reduced by either 5% or based on the National Renewable Energy Lab’s cost analysis (whichever is less).

SOMAH incentive rate by tax credit funding and tenant/common area allocation

TAX CREDITS

$ per AC Watt Incentive

ITC

LIHTC

Tenant

Common

2019-2020

2020-2021

2019-2020

2020-2021

No

No

$3.20

$3.04

$1.10

$1.04

Yes

No

$2.25

$2.14

$0.80

$0.76

No

Yes

$2.25

$2.14

$0.80

$0.76

Yes

Yes

$1.60

$1.52

$0.60

$0.57

System cost example for a property with a tenant allocation of 15 kW and a common area allocation of 12.3 kW

Reflects SOMAH year 2 incentive rates

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Scenario

Total system size

Tenant allocation

Rate

Tenant incentive

Common area allocation

Rate

Common area incentive

Total incentives

No tax credits applied

27.3 kW (27,300 watts)

15 kW

$3.04

$45,600

12.3 kW

$1.04

$12,792

$58,392

With ITC tax credits applied

27.3 kW (27,300 watts)

15 kW

$2.14

$32,100

12.3 kW

$.76

$9,348

$41,448

With ITC and LIHTC tax credits applied

27.3 kW (27,300 watts)

15 kW

$1.52

$22,800

12.3 kW

$.57

$7,001

$29,811

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Scenario

Total system size

Tenant allocation

Rate

Tenant incentive

Common area allocation

Rate

Common area incentive

Total incentives

No tax credits applied

27.3 kW (27,300 watts)

20 kW

$3.04

$60,800

7.3 kW

$1.04

$7,592

$68,392

With ITC tax credits applied

27.3 kW (27,300 watts)

20 kW

$2.14

$42,800

7.3 kW

$.76

$5,548

$48,348

With ITC and LIHTC tax credits applied

27.3 kW (27,300 watts)

20 kW

$1.52

$30,400

7.3 kW

$.57

$4,161

$34,561

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No-cost technical assistance

Not sure where to start? Learn more about the technical assistance services provided by the SOMAH program.

More about Technical Assistance