Frequently Asked Questions About Solar Power

Answers to some of the most common questions about solar power.

Solar panels on a house with flowers in the foreground

Why should I go solar?

  • What are the financial benefits of solar energy?

When you install a solar energy system on your property, you save money on your electricity bills and protect yourself against rising electricity rates in the future. The solar system can help offset your energy usage to save on your utility bill. If you generated more electricity than you used, you will be credited for the excess at a rate equal to PWP’s Energy Charge rate during that year, plus 2.5¢ per kWh for applicable renewable energy credits or attributes, plus an additional 6.6¢ per kWh. See more at our Net Surplus Compensation page.

  • What are the environmental benefits of solar energy?

Solar power, like other renewable energy resources, has many environmental and health benefits. Going solar reduces greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to climate change. It also results in fewer air pollutants like sulfur dioxide and particulate matter, which can cause health problems.

  • How do I find out how much I pay for electricity?

The easiest way to find out how much you pay for electricity (and how much electricity you use per billing period) is to look at your PWP utility electricity bill. Energy usage can be viewed on-line by logging in to your PWP account.

  • What is net energy metering?

Net energy metering is the billing schedule that utilities use to credit solar energy system owners for the electricity produced by their solar panels. With net energy metering, you only pay for the electricity that you use beyond what your solar panels can generate.

  • What is the largest solar system I can install?

The largest solar system permitted is one designed to offset up to 100% of your kWh annual consumption over the year. Service account billing history can be obtained by contacting PWP customer service. If you have less than one year of usage history, or your building is new construction, the maximum solar system is calculated at 2 watts DC per square foot of the building.

  • Is PWP on NEM 1.0, NEM 2.0, or NEM 3.0?

The recent Net Energy Metering updates issued by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) do not apply to Pasadena Water and Power customers. PWP customers are compensated for their net surplus energy at their applicable energy services charge.

How do solar panels work for my home?

  • How do solar photovoltaic (PV) panels work?

Solar panels absorb the sun’s energy throughout the day and convert it into direct current (DC) electricity. Most homes and businesses run on alternating current (AC) electricity, so the DC electricity is then passed through an inverter to convert it to usable AC electricity. At that point, you either use the electricity in your house or send it back to the electric grid.

  • Do my solar panels produce power when the sun isn't shining?

The amount of power your solar energy system can generate is dependent on sunlight. As a result, your solar panels will produce less energy when the weather is cloudy, and no energy at night.

  • Can I go off-grid with solar panels?

When you install solar panels on your property, you will still be connected to the grid. This allows you to draw from the grid when your system is not producing all the power that you need and send power back to the grid when you produce more than you use. It is possible to go off the grid with a solar energy system that includes a large enough battery storage, but it will cost significantly more and is unnecessary for most homeowners.

  • Will I still receive an electric bill if I have solar panels?

Since multiple public services are included in your bill, such as water services, you will still receive a bill in the mail. If you elect to remain in the existing bimonthly (residential) or monthly (commercial) billing, you will still need to pay for electricity at your regularly billed periods. If you elect to do annual billing, you will pay once a year for electricity.

  • Do solar panels still work in a blackout?

The vast majority of solar systems (without battery backup) utilize "grid tied" inverters, meaning your system will shut off in the event of an outage. This is a safety feature to prevent emergency responders and PWP’s field crews from being injured by your panels sending power back to the grid. However, there are certain inverters you can buy that provide backup power in a blackout when paired with a battery. These inverters isolate your backup system and critical load panel from the electric grid during a blackout.

  • Do I need a battery?

Batteries are used for two reasons, 1) provide power during a blackout and 2) reduce the cost of utility power when on a time-of-use (TOU) rate. This is a rate where the price of power varies throughout the day. PWP currently does not offer a residential TOU rate for solar customers.

  • What solar energy incentives are available?

There is currently a 30 percent federal investment tax credit (ITC) for solar.  Consult your tax advisor if this would apply for your tax situation. PWP does not offer any incentives for solar or battery projects.

Getting Started

  • How do I get started?

Take a moment to read the PWP Solar Consumer Protection Guide to help you explore the various options and make a well-informed decision.

  • Are there local installers?

PWP cannot endorse or recommend any specific solar installation company. We encourage customers to conduct research using tools like Google's Project Sunroof to understand their needs, which may help narrow down potential installers.

Still Have Questions?

If you still have questions about installing solar power, an electric service planner from PWP can help. Please note: electric service planners may be in the field and take up to two business days to fulfill contact requests.

Phone contact icon

Call Us

For billing and usage history

(626) 744-4005

For general solar inquiries
(626) 744-4495 OR

Click here to e-mail us.

For electric service planning inquiries
Click here to e-mail us.