Solar PV systems incentivized by the SOMAH program are required to primarily benefit the tenants. At least 51 percent of the energy produced by the system must be allocated to tenants via virtual net energy metering, and the tenants must receive 100 percent of the economic benefit of the credits on a monthly basis for the life of the system. Property owners are not permitted to adjust rents or utility allowances based on the credits.
Links to learn more within the SOMAH Program Handbook.
Contractors on SOMAH projects are required to hire eligible job trainees for SOMAH installations and meet trainee wage requirements. The number of trainees and required work hours depend on the size of the system installation.
Property owners are required to notify tenants about participation in SOMAH and provide them with SOMAH-approved information on energy efficiency, time-of-use rates (if relevant), bill interpretation, solar training opportunities and resources for additional support and information.
Participants receiving upfront technical assistance (TA) are required to obtain a minimum of three bids for their project. Participants who do not request upfront TA have the option to receive bids, but may waive this requirement.
Third-party owned systems
Third-party owned systems are required to provide evidence of operations maintenance and monitoring for the full term of the third-party ownership agreement. Additionally, third-party owned systems must include performance guarantees that ensure the PV system will produce a minimum of 90% of the annual output as determined by the Expected Performance Based Buydown (EPBB) Calculator and provide financial compensation for any production shortfalls.
Participating properties must comply with energy efficiency requirements to ensure maximum benefit from the solar installation. Either of the following meets the requirement.
- Energy efficiency walkthrough audit
- Recent or active participation in an approved energy upgrade program, documentation of a recent California Tax Credit Allocation Committee (TCAC) rehabilitation or documentation that the property was completely constructed under a recent version of Title 24
Regardless of which pathway is pursued, the participant must submit a completed Solar Sizing Tool as part of their application.
Eligible whole-building energy upgrade programs
Eligible whole-building energy upgrade programs to meet Pathway 2 of the energy efficiency requirement include:
- Low Income Weatherization program for Multifamily (LIWP-MF)
- Bay Area Multifamily Building Enhancements (BAMBE)/BayREN
- PG&E Multifamily Upgrade Program
- Marin Clean Energy Multifamily Energy Savings Program / LIFT
- SDG&E Multifamily Energy Upgrade California
- SoCalGas Multifamily Energy Upgrade California
As additional whole building energy efficiency programs become available, additional offerings may qualify, subject to approval by the SOMAH Program Administrator.
Performance monitoring and reporting service
All systems are required to contract with a performance monitoring and reporting service (PMRS) provider for a minimum of 20 years and must ensure that 15-minute interval data is provided to the SOMAH Program Administrator upon request.
Housing and Urban Development (HUD) properties
In July 2019, HUD released a memo that rendered the majority of HUD properties with Project-based Section 8 funding eligible for SOMAH. However, properties with the following HUD funding remain ineligible:
- Section 101 Rent Supplement
- Section 236 Rental Assistance Payment (RAP)
- Section 221(d)(3) and (4) Below Market Interest Rate (BMIR)
Read official HUD memo
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) properties
In June 2020, the USDA Office of Multi-Family Housing issued a letter to the SOMAH Program Administrator. This letter serves to replace the need for project-specific letters from USDA as previously required.
Read official USDA letter
To be eligible, HUD and USDA RD financed properties must adhere to the following.
- Virtual net energy metering (VNEM) credits allocated to tenants under the SOMAH program must not be included as annual household income.
Solar credits resulting from participation in SOMAH must not be used when calculating annual utility allowances (UA).
Solar benefits stay with the unit and do not follow tenants when they move residences.
Solar credits are not distributed to tenants based on electricity consumption, but rather in accordance with the allocation decided on by the property owner.
Public housing authority properties may be able to participate in SOMAH regardless of HUD or USDA financing if the property uses a standard regional or local utility allowance schedule. Contact Blanca de la Cruz for a free eligibility assessment.