California’s Solar on Multifamily Affordable Housing program (SOMAH) is the nation’s largest investment in solar photovoltaic (PV) for low-income residential properties. It presents a tremendous funding opportunity for property owners to install subsidized solar PV systems, and a significant opportunity for low-income families to financially benefit from clean, green electricity. There are more than 3,500 properties throughout the state that will be able to take advantage of the rich incentive.

Key SOMAH Program Benefits 

  • Owners will lower their costs to provide electricity to property common-areas
  • Owners will strengthen their real-estate assets
  • Residents will receive reduced electricity bills
  • Owners may see reduced tenant turnover due to reduced tenant electricity bills

SOMAH Program Funding

The SOMAH program will provide up to $100 million annually for 10 years, with the aim to install 300 megawatts of generating capacity by 2030 for low-income and disadvantaged communities throughout the state. Approximately 75-100% of solar PV project costs for program-eligible properties will be subsidized by SOMAH funding. Owners of the solar PV systems will still be eligible to receive the Federal Incentive Tax Credit. Solar PV projects funded by the SOMAH incentive will directly offset both building owners’ common area electricity load as well tenant load. A minimum of 51% of the system’s output 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.

Who Qualifies?

In order to qualify for the SOMAH program, properties must:

  • Have at least five units
  • Have at least 10 years remaining on the term of the property’s affordability restrictions
  • Meet one of the following affordability requirements:
    • Located in a top 25% DAC community; or:
    • 80% of residents are at or below 60% of area median income (AMI)
  • Be an existing building or retrofit
  • Have separately metered units
  • Be in a utility territory served by PG&E, SDG&E, or SCE (including territories within these regions that are served by a CCA)

TerraVerde can help you to quickly assess your properties’ program eligibility,  and help you to determine which buildings to prioritize for the SOMAH incentive applications.

SOMAH program Timeline

Time is of the essence for locking in the SOMAH incentive at the highest possible rate. It took just days for the SOMAH program’s first year of funding to become nearly fully subscribed. While Year 1 funding for SOMAH is exhausted in SDG&E, PG&E and SCE territories, PG&E and SCE still have waitlists. Applicants in utility territories with waitlists are encouraged to apply in order to be added to a waitlist that will assure their place in line for funding and may lock in year-one incentive rates. The SOMAH Program Administrator may close a waitlist at any time to preserve funding for future years and to avoid excessive wait times.

To learn more about SOMAH and for assistance determining whether your properties qualify and which should be prioritized for the rich incentive, reach out to us at hello@terraverde.energy for objective market expertise from our team of independent energy advisors.