How to lock in savings in CA under NEM 2.0

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5 steps to lock in NEM 2 rates

If you're a California homeowner considering going solar, your window to maximize savings is short. Our Energy Advisors strongly recommend you select an installer no later than March 31 and submit your interconnection application (via your installer) by April 14, 2023. After this date, your solar savings will still be meaningful but 60% lower over the next 20 years. This change is due to NEM 3, California's new net metering policy, approved in December 2022, which will apply to systems with interconnection applications submitted after April 14 at 5 pm PST. NOTE: your installation does not have to happen by this deadline, and you can even make some changes to your system design after submitting your application.

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Net metering is when your utility company compensates you for the excess electricity your solar energy system generates and sends to the grid – but, importantly, your utility doesn't necessarily pay you the same price for the electricity you send them as they charge for the electricity you consume from the grid. The change from NEM 2 to NEM 3 in April will drop the rate they pay you by about 75%! The good news: anyone who submits an interconnection application by the required date will be grandfathered into NEM 2 rates for 20 years. Luckily, we're here to outline the steps you need to take to ensure you lock in NEM 2 rates.

  1. ASAP: decide if you should go solar and get quotes

  2. March: choose an installer and sign your contract

  3. End of March: schedule your site visit

  4. April 14, 2023: submit your interconnection application

  5. Three years after your interconnection application is submitted (by April 14, 2026 at the latest): install your solar energy system


Approximate due date: ASAP!

The first step to locking in solar savings from NEM 2 is to see if your home is a good fit for solar. Most important are the specifics of your roof, such as its shading, age, size, material, angle, and orientation. In California, electricity rates are some of the highest in the country, so as long as your house and roof are suitable, solar will be worth it.

Next, gather installer quotes to compare them for factors like cost, equipment, and reputation. Fortunately, the free EnergySage Marketplace makes this easy by collecting quotes for you from our network of pre-vetted installers. To lock in NEM 2, we recommend having your quotes in hand as soon as possible (our installers usually return quotes within a day of your request).


Approximate due date: March 2023


Now that you have quotes choose the best installer for you. EnergySage's mission is to help you choose confidently: our team of expert Energy Advisors can walk you through your quotes and answer all your questions – for free! Once you've selected an installer, you'll need to sign a contract, and the name on the signed contract must match the name on your utility bill. We recommend signing your contract in March (ideally mid-March) to ensure your installer has enough time to prepare and submit all required documentation before the April 14th cutoff date.

Approximate due date: End of March 2023


After signing your contract, you'll need to schedule a site visit with your installer – these can be conducted in person or virtually (depending on your installer). During this step, an engineer (not a salesperson) will ensure your home is ready for your new solar energy system. They'll check your roof and electrical panel and decide if any updates are needed before you go solar.

Based on the site visit, your installer will create a single-line diagram, or SLD, a basic electrical drawing of the system, and the scope of work packet – the SLD will be included in your interconnection application and can't change after April 14th. The date of your site visit is a bit more flexible (especially if it's virtual), but we recommend completing it by April if any last-minute changes are needed.

Due date: April 14, 2023!


While your installer will be the one to submit your interconnection application, you'll need to be involved in the process. First, you must review and sign the California Solar Consumer Protection Guide as part of the application. If you plan on oversizing your system, you'll also need to sign an oversizing attestation stating that you plan to make the electrical upgrades within the following year. Double-check that your property address and name are the same on every document. Your installer must submit this full application by April 14th at 5 pm PST.

Due date: April 14, 2026 (that’s right – three years)


Your installer has successfully submitted your interconnection application on time – now, what's the next step? Your installer will be completing several tasks at this point, including acquiring a building permit, obtaining equipment, completing the installation itself, and receiving permission to operate. You'll need to decide how to finance your system with cash or one of the many great solar loan products available. For you to remain locked into NEM 2 rates, all of these steps must be completed within three years of submitting your interconnection application (by April 14th, 2026, at the latest). But sooner is undoubtedly better: once your system is installed and interconnected, you're ready to start saving with your new solar energy system while being compensated for what you export to the grid at great rates!

Installing a solar energy system can feel overwhelming, but EnergySage is here to simplify it. Get free quotes through the EnergySage Marketplace, and compare quotes from only prescreened, reputable solar installers. If you have any questions, we'll provide tools and resources and access to a free Energy Advisor to walk you through the process.

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