Frequently Asked Questions About Solar
Have a question? We're here to help! Find answers to our frequently asked questions on installing solar on your property.
1. How much does it cost to install solar?
The cost of a typical rooftop solar installation will vary depending on the roof, orientation, and technology installed. Residential solar systems installed in southern California in 2015-16 generally ranged from $4 to $7 per watt, before any tax credits or rebates.
2. What are some considerations before I install solar?
Some big considerations that will impact your decision to install solar is roof orientation and cost of your average monthly bill. Generally, a gradually sloped shade-free roof facing south will be the most efficient at producing electricity. Additionally, customers with large monthly bills that experience tiered pricing will benefit more than a customer who’s monthly bill doesn’t exceed Tier 1 energy use. Lastly, it is generally most cost effective to first improve a home’s energy efficiency before installing a solar system. The more energy efficient home will require a less costly solar system to meet its energy usage. Please visit our Home Improvement Program to review BWP’s free energy efficiency services.
3. How large can my solar system be?
Your solar system’s expected annual energy output cannot exceed your previous 12 month energy usage. If you have less than one year history, the usage will be calculated with available data. The solar system is intended primarily to offset part or all of your annual energy usage in accordance as interpreted from Senate Bill 1 by the City of Burbank. With new construction, the maximum solar system size may be calculated at two Watts DC per square foot of the conditioned floor area of the building. System’s larger than 1,000 kW CEC-AC require special terms for interconnection.
4. When will I begin to see my solar generation on my bill?
When your solar system has been tested and successfully connected to BWP’s electric grid by our field crews, your energy production will begin to be tracked by BWP and will appear on your next bill.
5. If I install a solar system on my property, will I still receive a monthly bill from BWP?
Yes, even if your solar system produces enough energy to cover all of your consumption, there are fixed charges on your bill that are necessary to pay for utility costs such as poles, conductors, and administration. These charges will always exist as long as you are connected to BWP’s electric grid. Please click here for a detailed explanation.
6. Does my solar system qualify for a federal or state income tax credit?
Because tax situations vary among different customers and tax laws are subject to change, BWP does not give tax advice. Please check with your tax advisor or visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency.
7. What impact does shade have on a solar system?
Even small amounts of shade can cause a major generation interruption in a solar array. If only one cell in a module is shaded, you will likely see a 33% power reduction from that module. If a row of cells in one module is shaded, you could see a 90% power reduction. Additionally, every module wired in series in that string will see the same power reduction. For instance, when a chimney casts a shadow over one row of cells on the last module in a string of 13, you lose about 90% of the power to all 13 modules. Most experienced solar site assessors use the Solmetric SunEye or Solar Pathfinder tool to determine shading problems before designing a system or determining how large an array can be mounted in a desired location. This assessment is required before an installer can properly and accurately determine the rebate since the rebate is based on expected solar performance. Micro-Inverters (like Enphase and the SolarMagic Power Optimizer) can help minimize the power loss due to shading, but add extra expense to a system. Solar pros agree that every effort should be made to ensure all modules are shade-free between the hours of 9AM and 3PM. Remember that even shadows from power lines and bird droppings can cause a noticeable power reduction.
8. What happens if my neighbor does something that casts a shadow on my solar panels?
At this time there is no City of Burbank Ordinance to regulate shading of solar panels due to the actions of a neighbor. However, Senate Bill 1399, known as the Solar Shade Control Act was signed into California law on July 22, 2008. In order to protect a solar PV investment from being shaded in the future, the Solar Shade Control Act says that you must provide written notice by certified mail to owners of the affected property PRIOR to the solar PV installation. Trees and shrubs that are planted prior to the installation of the solar PV system, or trees and shrubs that are subject to a local ordinance, or the replacement of trees or shrubs that had to be removed for the protection of public health, safety, or the environment are exempt from this law.
9. Will I still be connected to BWP's electric supply?
Yes. The BWP grid will continue to provide electricity to your home at night time or when your solar panels are not producing enough power because of inclement weather or higher energy demand.
10. How long does a typical solar system last? Are there any warranties?
Solar panels generally have a warranty of 20 years and inverters that qualify for California incentives will carry a 10 year warranty. Contractors should provide a warranty for their workmanship and it is important to have a warranty to cover roof penetration leaks.
11. Is maintenance required on my solar system?
Aside from periodic washing and visual inspection of parts, a typical rooftop solar system does not require a lot of maintenance. Make sure to ask your contractor about the recommended maintenance procedures for the equipment installed at your house.
12. What, if any, affiliation do solar system installers have with BWP?
BWP is not affiliated with any solar system installer. It is entirely the customer’s responsibility to choose a contractor. We recommend getting at least 3 quotes and calling references to ensure the best pricing and customer experience for your project.
13. What is net-metering?
Net-metering is the ability for you as a solar customer to receive credit for any excess generation produced by your solar system and have the credit automatically applied to your account when it is needed. For example, during the early afternoon, your solar system may generate more energy than you need. This excess generation is credited to you and applied to your account at times of low energy generation, like at night when there is no sun.
14. What is BWP's projected escalation rate?
The escalation rate reflects the expected annual increase in average energy cost. BWP's projected escalation rate through 2023 is less than 1% per year.
15. Why is the monitoring system from my installer showing a different generation amount than the BWP meter?
BWP meters are highly accurate equipment designed specifically to track the flow of energy. These devices are more accurate than a typical installer monitoring system.