By “Solar” Sarah Madsen
HelioPower Solar Energy Consultant

Want to go solar and don’t think you can quite afford it, still? Do you need a little more incentive than the

Residential Solar in Suisan installed by HelioPower

Residential Solar in Suisun installed by HelioPower

state and feds can give you (state rebate and federal tax credit)? How about looking into your local city and county programs? How about checking into Community Action of Napa Valley (CANV) and their “Napa Valley Solar Partnership” program?

The City of Napa, California has been looking for a way to take advantage of AB 811 and be one of the pioneers of citywide residential solar. Their sister county of Sonoma found a fabulous way to incent their green minded residents to go solar. It’s called “Solar Sonoma County.” Residents who go solar can receive a one- time loan for solar system purchase and pay it back over time through their property taxes. Sonoma County’s program kicked off fairly quickly and with great success due in part to the fact that their water district had funds available for the program. Unfortunately Napa City and County have not yet identified a funding pool for their own AB811 program.

In walks Jon Vaden, Director of CANV’s (Community Action Napa Valley) Napa Valley Solar Partnership Program. CANV applied for and received a federal grant to educate the residents of Napa Valley and get as many of them as possible to go solar before the end of 2010. The organization is trying to help all Napa County homeowners go solar, but also has a special emphasis on helping match low-income residents with available loan programs that can provide the upfront cost for solar.

With the grant in place Jon has set out on a trail of solar seminars around the valley called “Making Cents out of Solar” (with me, Solar Sarah, in attendance). He covers how solar works and how residents are connected with PG&E with their “net metering” agreement to buy AND sell energy back to the utility. He also goes over the programs and incentives available, as well as what to look for in a contractor. He explains to homeowners what to expect as it pertains to the process of bidding and installation – basically covering the ins and outs, from paperwork and permits to financing and commissioning your solar system. All of this is done from an educational standpoint with no pressure or steering to any one installation company. Of course I’m always ready, willing and able to schedule a site visit for those eager to get started!

CANV has a prescreened vendor list to assist Napa residents in choosing a qualified installer. Jon has vetted each company carefully, checking their contractor licenses and standing with the Better Business Bureau as well as the requirements of C-10 (Electrician), C-46 (Solar) and NABCEP certifications. The program requires that each company use screened employees and not sub-contractors or temporary workers, ensuring quality workmanship and professionalism from any company participating in the program.

HelioPower, Inc is proud to be a part of CANV’s Napa Valley Solar Partnership and I am privileged to attend every seminar and meeting. I’m Solar Sarah Madsen of the Napa Valley and you can find me at the weekly seminar spot, wherever that may be (find event listings on CANV’s website). I’m grateful to Jon Vaden for including us and believing in my commitment to service the Napa Valley and beyond. Everyone has worked together to create a successful program and it won’t work overnight, but your solar system doesn’t work overnight either 😉 

Now let’s get going GREEN and GO SOLAR with SOLAR SARAH in the NAPA VALLEY!!

You can reach Sarah Madsen via email at [email protected].