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Office of Sustainability and the Environment
Solar Santa Monica Solar Santa Monica
Residential - Multi-Family

Apartment buildings and condo homeowners' associations (HOA's) are able to install solar electric systems to reduce common area use, such as outdoor and garage lighting. Environmental and financial benefits are realized by the building owner/HOA. If building owners and renters would like to work together to utilize solar, "virtual net metering," may be the answer.

Large properties with large hot water needs are encouraged to explore solar thermal water systems. Everything you need to get started is here.

For "new construction" projects, review information on Santa Monica's Energy Reach Code and Solar Ordinance.   

The solar installed at this multi-family complex on Olympic Blvd. offsets
common area electricity loads.

Estimate Solar Potential for Your Site

Look up your address at the LA County Solar Map. If you think there is an error in the aieral image, call us for a personal asssessment. The County SolarMap also has resources to help size your system and estimate annual savings.

System sizing is based on your electricity consumption. There is no financial incentive to oversize! Divide your annual kWh usage by 1,600 to estimate the number of kW needed to offset your annual consumption.

Virtual Net Metering

Virtual Net Metering (VNEM) is a billing arrangement offered by California's three major investor-owned utilities (IOUs) allowing for a property to offset both common area and tenant load(s) with a common solar electric system.

VNEM is available under two tariffs, each applicable to a specific market segment.


  • VNM: Virtual net metering for low-income buildings
  • NEM-V: Virtual net metering for general market buildings, limited to participating utility accounts connected to a single service delivery point*


The City of Santa Monica has partnered with the Center for Sustainable Energy in a pilot study to engage local solar contractors and interested multitenant properties in pursuing NEM-V.  Toolkits are now available to guide property owners through the process.  Learn more.

Plan Your System

Keys to Solar Success in a Condo Community

  1. Have an advocate or solar champion who ensures all the stakeholders understand the value of installing solar. 
  1. Get support of the condo association since the solar installation will affect common elements of the property. 
  1. Contact qualified contractors experienced in working with condominiums.

Solar Options for Condos

Association Projects - Solar would provide electricity for common areas of the building and any extra can be shared with individual condo unit owners. Association projects are popular for large and small condo buildings because the benefits of the system are shared equally. To be successful, all of the unit owners must be willing to make a solar investment.

Single or Joint Unit-Owner Projects -  One or more unit owners would install a solar system on the roof of the condo complex for their personal use. These owners would need to get approval from the condo association and get an easement to authorize the installation and maintenance.

This Sample Easement Form may be used as is or amended to meet the needs of your condo community's project.  This form easement agreement is intended to facilitate an arrangement in which a group of condominium owners seeks to install a shared solar energy system on common area of a condominium development.  

Tips for Going Going Solar in a Condo Community

First, Know Your Roof Rights - Your condo agreement or CC&Rs will cover roof ownership and maintenance responsibilities. Typically, roofs are categorized as common space, with responsibilities and maintenance costs shared equally among unit owners.  If you live in a small building or townhouse, you may have ownership for part of the roof.

Gather Information - Conduct your own research so you can communicate options with your neighbors and condo association. Use the LA Couty Solar Map or Google's Project Sunroof to estimate your buildings solar potential and savings estimates.  An experienced solar installer will be an important resource for more detailed information and options that best suit your building. Look for this icon Solar Directory Icon  in the Solar Santa Monica Contractor Directory.

Get Buy-In from Neighbors - Once you have your solar system equipment sized and financing options in place, start gathering support for your project from your condo association. Emphasize the savings, increased property value, and benefits for for the community.    


  • Tax Credit: There is a 30% Federal Tax Credit for solar energy systems (available for both photovoltaics and solar water heating systems). Work with your solar installer and tax advisor to determine if you are eligible. More info here.
  • Solar Water Heating Rebates: Eligible solar domestic hot water systems can receive a rebate from SoCal Gas for $25.00 per therm saved, up to $800,000. More info at the SoCalGas website:

  • New Residential Construction Rebate (New Solar Homes Partnership or NSHP):  New residential construction, including total building renovations, common areas of housing developments, and qualifying mixed-use projects that commit to installing a solar PV system in conjunction with construction are potentially eligible for a financial incentive. Rebates are determined based on the expected performance of the solar system to encourage high-quality installations. 

    The incentive structure is divided into three incentive levels based on the energy efficiency of the home. The lowest incentive, "Code -Compliant," is available for homes that meet the 2013 Title 24 Building Energy Efficiency Standards (Title 24 Standards). The next highest incentive is "Tier 1," which is for buildings that exceed the energy efficiency requirements of California's current Title 24 Standards by at least 15%. The highest incentive, "Tier 2," is for buildings that exceed overall Title 24 Standards by at least 30% and exceed space cooling efficiency by the same margin. For example, the current incentive level for market-rate housing, step 8, provides between 50 cents and $1.25 per watt incentive, based on the energy efficiency of the project.

    For NSHP FAQ, click here. 

    For all details on the New Solar Homes Partnership, including eligibility requirements and how to apply, see the Guidebook here:
    NSHP Guidebook Ninth Edition 

Financing Your Clean Energy System

There are many ways to help finance the installation of a solar or renewable energy system for your home.  Buying, leasing and Power Purchasing Agreements (PPA) are the three most popular choices.  See table for financing options.

Find a Contractor

If you're like most residents we talk to, buying solar is something brand new!

That's why Solar Santa Monica decided to go to the effort to find solar contractors who:

  • meet city license and insurance requirements
  • make personal visits before issuing a proposal
  • carry the state solar rebate
  • offer options for web monitoring and maintenance contracts
  • offer standard warranties
  • act in a professional manner
  • have references available
  • report on Santa Monica installations completed

We have solar electricity (photovoltaic), solar hot water (solar thermal), and solar pool heating experts on our list. These contractors were screened and selected after a memorandum of understanding pdf was agreed upon.

Our local contractors offer free site-visits. Call three so you have experience, bids, equipment, and services to compare. Find a Contractor.

Last updated: Friday, 04/05/2019

Ready to Go Solar?


Investigate how your home or business can be more energy efficient with the Home Energy Saver Guide

Sunny roofspace is required.  See capacity of your site here: 
Select a qualified 
Solar Contractor 


Have us help you compare bids by calling 310-458-2238 or email us



Multifamily Solar Study Cover
Fostering a Future Multifamily Solar Study pdf
Profile highlighting Santa Monica's efforts to promote solar on multifamily properties.  




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Santa Monica Office of Sustainability and the Environment
1685 Main St., Santa Monica, CA 90401 · (310) 458-2213 · TTY (310) 917-6626