California Solar Electric Company was ranked as a “Top Solar Contractor” by Solar Power World. The industry media outlet recently ranked the 2020 Top Commercial and Residential Solar Contractors which honored California Solar Electric Company according to it’s influence in the U.S. solar industry in 2019. 

With over 20 years of solar industry experience, California Solar Electric Company has provided alternative energy solutions to Northern California homeowners and businesses, including several staple community projects. Together, our co-op team aims to provide superior service, quality craftsmanship and innovative solar solutions that fit your green energy needs as well as your budget.

California Solar Electric Company knows how to deliver the best solar and energy storage solutions. Despite the pandemic, our team has continued to grow and expand it’s services thanks to a strong community support we are so grateful for.

Contact us about how we can create an innovative solar solution with the benefit of battery storage. Our team of experts can help you learn how to get the maximum benefit for investing in a California 2020 solar installation. Learn how you can deduct 26 percent of the installation costs from federal taxes by obtaining your personalized solar quote here.

Solar energy keeps getting more affordable. Since solar costs are falling fast unlike finite fossil fuels, it makes sense why the state of California now requires all new single family and multifamily homes under three stories to include solar energy. Despite the environmental benefits, the new mandate has influenced Californians to grow a collective interest in switching to solar. EnergySage Solar Marketplace discovered a shopper can save nearly $9,000 on the cost of going solar as a result of the current ITC. Therefore, the rise of solar has influenced others to also learn how they can smartly invest in a cost-saving and environmentally-friendly solar system.

Pro-solar policies mixed with financial benefits have made people aware that getting the maximum California solar tax credit and incentives is better than receiving a lower amount. According to EnergySage, the best time to go solar is now due to the dwindling Investment Tax Credit (ITC) incentives listed below:

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2016 – 2019: ITC tax credit remains at 30 percent of the cost of the solar system

2020: Owners of new residential and commercial solar panels can deduct 26 percent of the total cost of the solar system from their taxes

2021: Owners of new residential and commercial solar panel systems can deduct 22 percent of the total cost of the solar panel system from their taxes

2022 onwards: Federal credit for residential solar energy is no longer available – owners of new commercial solar panel systems can deduct 10 percent of the cost of the solar panels from their taxes

The Investment Tax Credit was created to allow individuals or businesses to deduct a certain percentage of solar investment costs from their taxes established by the Energy Policy Act of 2005, expiring in 2007. However, Congress extended the expiration date several times in support of the US economy and its transition to clean, renewable energy. Due to the ever-changing policies, the ITC makes it imperative for Californians to invest in their solar systems sooner rather than later.

With over 20 years of solar industry experience, California Solar Electric Company has been empowering northern California homeowners and businesses to qualify for affordable solar systems. Our team of experts can help you learn how to get the maximum benefit for investing in a California 2020 solar installation. Learn how you can deduct 26 percent of the installation costs from federal taxes by obtaining your personalized solar quote here.

With approximately 15 million people residing in Northern California, it’s challenging at times to find a solar company that has your best interests at heart. Solar installation projects can be tricky and it’s essential for homeowners to do their research when hiring a solar company that offers affordable, high-quality energy solutions that best fits their needs.

This article is intended to help northern California homeowners learn how to identify the best solar companies in their area.

Hire Local Solar Professionals

When researching the best solar companies near you, it’s important to hire certified solar experts that understand how a solar installation will improve your quality of life and maximize your benefits. According to mynevadacounty.com, as much as 92% of Nevada County, CA is located within high and very-high hazard severity zones for wildfires. It’s no surprise that Nevada County homeowners and those residing in the surrounding areas are seeking solar solutions that provide consistent back-up energy in the case of emergencies. That said, many residents in northern California are willing to do business with the best, local solar company even if they are waitlisted for a few months for solar installation.

Maintaining a Valuable and Long-Standing Reputation

Hiring local, solar professionals that other homeowners trust can give you confidence and a peace of mind with your solar investment. Reputable solar experts will analyze your energy consumption to help you save the most money while also doing their best to lower operational costs. If a solar company actively maintains a good reputation over a long period of time, this shows their commitment to providing clients the greatest savings and highest quality of service and products.

Unfortunately, 50% of solar companies fail before they are five years old. Company failure can create terrible experiences for former clients when it comes to repairs and maintenance requests. These failures can cause warranties to become void, leaving clients with no coverage.

Call California Solar Electric Company for A Free Estimate

Installing solar for 20 years, California Solar Electric Company is a reputable solar panel installation service provider serving Nevada County. We are a proud SunPower Elite dealer and offer high-quality solar systems with the best warranties. According to The Union, our solar cooperative has a reputation for being Nevada County’s “Best Solar Company” because we care for our clients like they’re family, ensuring all of their financial and environmental needs are met.

Call our solar experts and get a free estimate on how much you can save at (530)-274-3671.

With the wildfire season in full swing, California is becoming known for its power outages and rolling blackouts, especially as PG&E’s Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) becomes a new reality. Although PG&E’s preemptive blackouts are due to electrical system updates and are more likely to occur in high-risk fire areas, inconvenient power outages can also be caused by a variety of other reasons, such as earthquakes, heat waves, high winds and winter storms. Not only can outages cause communities to lose access to modern conveniences like wireless internet and air conditioning, but they can create unsafe environments for homes and businesses.

As millions of Californians are impacted by PG&E power shutoffs, alternative power providers such as California Solar Electric Company are committed to providing local communities reliable energy solutions and a peace of mind during these stressful times. If you live in an area with frequent or lengthy power outages, investing in battery backup or generators are two reliable energy solutions that can help reduce uncertainty by providing energy security.

The following information explains your backup power options and the main differences between systems:

Backup Generator or Battery

The costs of backup power installation for a home or business greatly depends on the amount of power you need and the equipment you choose. A portable generator provides temporary solutions powered by gasoline and can power small appliances, such as lights, a computer, TV and mobile chargers, costing a minimum of $1,000; whereas a standby home generator, which can supply power for an entire home can cost $10,000 and above. If you plan to run heavy electrical loads such as multiple AC units, generators remain the recommended energy backup solution but can increase in costs up to $30,000. Unlike fossil-fueled generators, upfront costs for backup batteries may be higher but fortunately, battery backup power systems help homeowners and businesses maximize their energy efficiency and include financing options that can offer a lifetime of fuel savings when paired with solar.

The following are a few key points to consider when deciding between battery or fossil fueled generators:

    • Backup battery costs are high, but with the lifetime savings on fuel can offset the upfront costs.
    • Fueling a battery has lower environmental impact compared to fossil-fueled generators.
    • Home battery backup systems have low noise levels, whereas home generators have a reputation for being noisy.
    • Re-fueling costs, annual maintenance and inspection are required by professional technicians are necessary for generators.
    • California Solar Electric Company can provide you the maximum savings on renewable solar energy and storage solutions.

While generators appear to be the simplest and cheapest option, their environmental impact and need for regular maintenance are important drawbacks to consider. Home battery systems draw power from the sun’s natural resources indefinitely, while generators need continuous refueling during use. Similar to a backup battery, generators are capable of detecting power outages and automatically switch to the generator’s power supply. Newer battery backup systems like the Tesla Powerwall are now considered a smart cleaner investment.

Go Solar with a Battery Backup

Powerwalls can reduce your reliance on the grid and include a 10-year warranty. The smart technology integration allows homeowners and businesses to monitor their own energy consumption by energy tracking. These lithium-ion backup batteries can also connect to a solar panel, also known as a PV (Photovoltaic) system, and the electrical grid. Because of the Investment Tax Credit (ITC)  26% rate in 2020, the costs of combined solar-plus-storage systems have dramatically dropped and become more available to residents across the state.

Energy collected from solar panels or the electrical grid is stored within the backup battery system for later use. In the event of a power outage, the system will switch from the grid and begin pulling power from the battery, such as the Tesla Powerwall.

Solar Energy System and Power Outages

Solar panels work by capturing the sun’s energy in order to create direct current (DC) electricity.  Since most establishments run on alternate current (AC) electricity, DC electricity is converted to AC electricity through an inverter. When PG&E goes down or AC electricity goes out during inclement weather, solar panels cannot serve as a backup when solar inverters turn off. Even if this was not the case, solar energy from solar panels should not be used in order to protect utility repairmen restoring power and the possibility of backflow power becoming dangerous.

Selecting Your Power Solution

Understanding your overall power usage is important when selecting a backup power solution. Knowledge of your energy usage is even more important if you live in a disaster-prone area where outages may occur. Tesla Powerwalls or home generators can provide you with the backup energy and assurance you need.  If you feel you need additional protection from loss of power, solar-plus-storage can be the answer while also saving you money on fuel in the long-term in an energy-efficient and eco-friendly way.

As leading solar providers in northern California, California Solar takes pride in providing 20 years of residential solar energy installation experience. Together, our solar cooperative aims to provide high-quality renewable, clean energy at an affordable cost. While a solar panel system cannot solely provide backup energy during a PSPS event, solar-plus-storage is a considerably more safe, cost-effective investment that serves as a resilient resource during grid outages.

Ready to explore effective backup energy options? California Solar backup solutions can cover any of your energy needs in the event of an outage. Contact us to gain tips on assessing your electricity needs by booking a virtual appointment with our energy experts today!

As PG&E plans to implement power shutoffs to reduce the risk of wildfires, one of the most popular energy storage systems, the Tesla Powerwall, offers California homeowners with an energy solution that provides control and predictability. Powerwall allows users to monitor and control home energy use, maintain a sustained power supply, and detect grid outages in advance from a simple mobile app. The home battery is child and pet-friendly and made to provide families security and financial benefits during power outages or when backup power is needed.

How Tesla Powerwall Works

Tesla Powerwall is a compact, lithium-ion home battery. The home battery can be wall-mounted or floor-mounted and stores energy from either the grid or rooftop solar panels. The Backup-Only power mode allows homeowners to conserve 100% of the Powerwall’s energy in the case it needs to supply the home seamless power in the event of an outage. Tesla recommends 2 Powerwalls per household based on an estimated energy usage of 30 kWh/day, estimating a minimum of 7 days of power during an outage.

Powerwall Installed with Solar

When Powerwall is installed with solar, electricity flows through the solar panels and is utilized throughout the house. Excess energy generated during the day will then be stored and later used during the evenings. By doing so, Powerwall’s Time-Based Control (also referred to as Load Shifting) helps homeowners maximize their savings by alternating between solar and grid electricity, while minimizing their reliance on the utility grid.

Powerwall Installed without Solar

While Cal solar highly recommends that the Powerwall is paired with solar, it is possible to use one without solar. When Powerwall is installed without solar, the battery draws electricity from the utility grid at the lowest rate as utility prices vary throughout the day. When electricity prices vary, homeowners are on time-of-use plans. Similar to Powerwalls installed with solar, Time-Based Control will generate immediate savings by smartly charging and discharging from the grid. In the case of a grid outage, Powerwall provides support by utilizing stored energy and automatically becoming the home’s main energy source.

Fully Charged and Self-Sufficient

Powerwall allows homeowners located in Nevada County to detect power outages in advance and have a seamless backup power experience. The battery storage possesses a reliable source of energy back-up and allows residents to become self-sufficient. California Solar Electric Company’s experienced solar and Tesla certified installers can empower you with the knowledge to make informed decisions on how you can stay fully charged while maximizing your solar system and Powerwall’s value.

If you are interested in learning how our solar systems and Powerwall installations can provide you with a continuous cycle of clean, renewable energy, you can fill out the online form here or call (530) 274-3671 and speak to our solar designers today.

Powerwall is designed to qualify for the 26% Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) when it is installed on a solar system and is charged 100% with solar energy. It does not qualify when installed without solar or if solar is installed after Powerwall.


To Our Valued Customers and Community Members,


At California Solar Electric Cooperative, we’re closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation and working tirelessly to serve the needs of businesses and individuals who are considering solar for their home, business, or farm. In response to the virus, for those few who are still at the office, we’ve implemented updated best practices in our workplace to help ensure the health and safety of our employees and customers.


Putting our Employees and Customers First

In accordance with California’s recent statewide stay-at-home order, most employees in the Nevada County area are now working from home. We have temporarily limited on-site business operations to essential staff in our warehouses to ensure fulfillment and completion of ‘essential’ installations and urgent service calls. These essential employees adhere to recommended hygiene and social distancing practices, and we’ve increased janitorial services to preserve a clean, healthy work environment.


Deploying a Remote Workforce

More employees than ever before are working from home – some by choice, others out of necessity. Our sales staff remains capable and able to start you off on your search for solar even during these challenging times. California Solar Electric Cooperative will continue to serve our community members in sheltering themselves from the ever-rising costs of electricity now and for years to come.


Looking Ahead: The Good News!!!

The good news is this will come to an end. From all the information we have gathered, our best guess is we will be back to normal operations in relatively short order. The COVID-19 situation remains fluid, and California Solar Electric Cooperative is committed to helping customers as well as our community through this difficult time. We will continue to monitor and respond to federal, state and local health authorities to protect our employees and serve our customers safely, and with minimal disruption.


Are You Tired of Being Cooped up at Home?

Don’t forget that Cal Solar is open for business. Now is a better time than any to start exploring solar with a local professional!!! We are conducting virtual site visits that are low pressure and education-based. Whether you are looking to do your solar project now or later in the year, there’s no harm in gathering information early and we’d love to help. Even if you already have solar it’s a GREAT time to be looking into adding those few extra panels you may need or even a battery! Let’s chat about it!

Please call: 530 274 3671

or fill out a quote form on our website to schedule your virtual site visit: https://californiasolarco.com/quote/

Best Wishes and warm regards,
California Solar Electric Cooperative

Article on YubNet.com February 5, 2020,

There is synergy with the people of Cal Solar. And, after formalizing that connection through its worker-owned cooperative, Cal Solar has cast a wider, synergetic net through Amicus Solar Cooperative. Amicus Solar is a member-owned purchasing cooperative of over 50 high-quality, independent, values-driven solar energy companies in all 50 states, Washington DC, Canada and Puerto Rico.

Stephen Irvin is president and CEO of Amicus. “I helped start a solar company very similar to Cal Solar in Colorado in 2005 with a college buddy and other friends, Namaste Solar” he said. “We started it as an employee owned business from the get-go. We believed in sharing the benefits and the risk and responsibility. We believed in that business model.”

Irvin said they didn’t know about cooperatives. They wanted to create a business that would promote the use of solar energy. A few years later in about 2009, very large solar companies, moved in. “They were very disruptive,” Irvin said. “They came in hot and heavy, and we were concerned.”

They wanted to keep Namaste Solar employee-owned.

“One way to do that was to tap the power of coming together with other companies for a common goal: Buying power.”

Amicus is a Latin word for friend. It is fitting for the mission to create a cooperative.

“We said, let’s create and own equally a purchasing cooperative,” Irvin said. “This business model is time tested and proven. The most common is Ace Hardware. It is the exact business model. Ace Hardware Cooperative.”

Ace Hardware stores are each independently owned and operated, and all are part of the Ace Hardware Cooperative. They pool their buying power to compete against the larger companies.

As a group, Amicus uses their collective buying power. Discounts get passed on to the companies in the co-op, such as Cal Solar.

“The goal is lowering the cost for their customers and puts more solar out there,” Irvin said. “It helps people go solar. And it’s helping Cal Solar stay independently owned and operated. Not to be rolled up into a bigger group. That’s the big thing it does.”

Solar financing

Reducing the cost of loans and financing also gets passed on to customers. “We say, Bank XYZ, we’ll bring $50M of solar loans to you, can you give discounts? Instead of one at a time, it’s sort of negotiated up front,” Irvin said. “Now Cal Solar has the ability to tap into this brain trust with Amicus.”

Working collaboration

There is also an app available to each company. “At any time an engineer can open the Amicus app to ask a question. They have access now to close to 4,000 solar professionals. Everyone helps each other,” Irvin said. “It’s classic cooperative. The more you give the more you get. Everyone helps each other out. Cal Solar answers questions as well. They’ve already been doing that. Cal Solar is almost 20 years old. The average age is16. Cal Solar has a lot of experience. And now they have the buying power and brain power of an enormous company with the benefits of staying local.”

Nominations are now being accepted for the Shared Capital Cooperative Board of Directors. The election will be from March 30 to April 12 and this year four seats are open; three seats representing cooperative members and one seat representing individual members.

Shared Capital seeks a diverse pool of candidates representing different backgrounds, experiences and geographic regions. Many different skills and expertise add value to our board, including knowledge and experience in cooperative governance, finance, lending, investing, law, marketing, member engagement, cooperative development and CDFIs. Most importantly we are looking for people who are committed to our mission and our work and able to participate fully on the board and at least one committee.

Interested in running? Check out the candidate statement form and endorsement form on our website. There’s also a board job description. People interested in running for the board must be endorsed by a cooperative that is a member in good standing of Shared Capital. Both a candidate statement and endorsement form are needed for a nomination and nominations are due by end of day March 6, 2020.

Shared Capital Cooperative is a CDFI loan fund that is committed to building economic democracy by investing in cooperative enterprises. Shared Capital is a cooperative association owned by over 250 cooperatives throughout the U.S. Members include worker-owned co-ops, housing cooperatives, small farmer co-ops, purchasing co-ops and retail grocery co-ops. Shared Capital has an eleven-member Board of Directors elected by the members of Shared Capital. Ten of the seats represent Shared Capital’s cooperative members and one seat represents Shared Capital’s individual members.

More information about membership and a full list of members is available here. Your questions or finalized materials can go to adam@sharedcapital.coop.

Your Vote Matters! Vote for the Board of Directors starting March 30

This year’s vote will be held electronically from March 30 to April 12. You will  receive an email with your voting credentials. Both individual and cooperative members will vote in this election.

Member cooperatives will receive an email with voting credentials. If you haven’t received credentials by April 2 or if you’d like a paper ballot, please contact adam@sharedcapital.coop. 

For questions, please contact adam@sharedcapital.coop. For biographies and candidate statements of this year’s candidates check back here in March.

How Worker Cooperatives are the Model for a Sustainable Future

Worker-owned cooperatives have proven to be beneficial for businesses and communities. Cal Solar, known as a company that is focused on the environmental and human condition, is the first of such co-ops in Nevada County.
Cal Solar General Manager Lars Ortegren and Operations Manager Angelica Niblock participated in a workshop on the worker cooperative model, presented as part of the Wild & Scenic Film Festival on Sunday January 19th, 1 to 2pm in the Activist Center, at the Nevada City City Hall.

“I think probably the biggest thing was introduction to worker co-ops as a model for transitioning businesses, for people who are either looking to sell their business or locking in the mission of their business that already exists,” Ortegren said. “This was a perfect fit for Wild & Scenic, because it addressed the structure of an environmental company, while focusing on the sustainability of our community”

Flying V Farm’s, Harvest Sales and Communications Manager Lucy O’dea, and Perennial and Maintenance Manager Cody Curtis were also on the panel. Flying V Farms is a worker-owned, certified organic farm in Placerville growing a variety of vegetables, fruits and flowers.
Project Equity’s Sr. Client Services Manager and Regional Partnerships Manager Patty Viáfara, was the panel’s moderator. Project Equity is a national nonprofit organization. “We work to catalyze employee ownership,” Viáfara said. “We work with over 30 companies at different stages. We have seen a great deal of success with our companies that have converted to the co-op model.”

“(For Cal Solar) it’s been great,” Ortegren said. “Especially with trying to run a small business in Nevada County in an every-changing environment, to have a group of people with the same mission allows us to be more adaptable.” Viáfara said these employees are receiving an increase in personal wealth. “And we’ve seen growing community wealth,” she said. “It keeps it in the community. It is ensuring business longevity and keeping local communities thriving.” Project Equity also addresses the silver tsunami. Baby boomers own about a half of the businesses. “There will be a huge wealth transfer in the next few years, starting now,” Viáfara said. Viáfara went on to say there are proven, seven-year old studies with co-ops that show they are more resilient to recession, and are building wealth for their owners.

There are also ancillary benefits.

“Creating employee owners is creating community advocates,” Viáfara said. “Owners are paying attention. They have a stake in what is happening in their community. They are going to city council meetings, they are aware of the pressure on businesses, they are more active in the community.”

Part of the work Project Equity does is a full underwriting. Including how a business performed in the past, potential in the future and market forces. The workshop included the process for converting to a worker-owned business and all its benefits. There was an audience Q&A after the workshop. “I think this is a great model. It’s about creating sustainable economies, to work where you live. I’m here to help people understand the model,” Viáfara said.  “We are talking about worker co-ops as a model to create more economic and environmental sustainability in local communities,” Ortegren said.

When asked about forging ahead as the first Nevada County company to transition, Ortegren said, “Yes, we were blazing our own path. At the same time it was with a special group of people that I really trusted. We formalized something that was already happening in our company.”