The SOMAH program offers monetary incentives for eligible solar PV systems installed on multifamily affordable housing. To qualify for incentives, your project must satisfy all eligibility criteria and meet all program requirements.

To be eligible for a SOMAH incentive, a property must

  • Have at least five units
  • Be deed-restricted low-income residential housing (special considerations for HUD and USDA properties)
  • Satisfy one of the following
    • 80 percent of property residents have incomes at or below 60 percent of the area median income (AMI)
    • Property is located in a defined disadvantaged community (DAC) that scores in the top 25 percent of census tracts statewide in the CalEnviroScreen
  • Be an existing building or retrofit (new construction properties may receive upfront technical assistance, but must have their certificate of occupancy before submitting a reservation request)
  • Have separately metered units
  • Be a utility or community choice aggregator customer in the Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric, PacifiCorp or Liberty Utilities territories

Check out the Eligible SOMAH Property Map.

 

Read Handbook

Eligible SOMAH solar contractors and job trainee

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.

Read Handbook

SOMAH tenants and residents

Participation in SOMAH requires a host customer agreement that states tenants shall not bear any additional costs through increased rents, adjustments to utility allowances or other mechanisms resulting from participation in SOMAH. Property owners may not take on the responsibility of paying tenant utility bills in exchange for the elimination of tenant utility allowances as this would limit the direct tenant economic benefit and potentially increase tenant costs.

Links to learn more within the SOMAH Program Handbook.

 

Job training

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.

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Tenant engagement

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.

Read Handbook

Multiple bids

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.

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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.

Read Handbook

Energy efficiency

Participating properties must comply with energy efficiency requirements to ensure maximum benefit from the solar installation. Either of the following meets the requirement.

  1. Energy efficiency walkthrough audit
  2. 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.

Read Handbook

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
  • SoCalREN
  • 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.

Read Handbook

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.

Read Handbook

An eligible property must satisfy one of the following.

  • Property is located in a defined disadvantaged community (DAC) that scores in the top 25 percent of census tracts statement in the CalEnviroScreen.
  • 80 percent of property residents have incomes at or below 60 percent of the area median income (AMI).
    • This can be evidenced in the Regulatory Agreement. If the Regulatory Agreement does not enforce strict enough income restrictions, but the property is being operated at SOMAH income levels and will continue to operate at these income levels for 10 years, this affidavit can be completed. Current evidence of tenant rents and AMIs may be requested.

    Download Affidavit

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

Eligibility

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.

Exceptions

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.