California’s SOMAH program speeds up payment process to attract more solar installers

California Solar on Multifamily Affordable Housing

California has a cool program to incentivize the installation of solar on affordable multifamily housing. The program, SOMAH (Solar on Multifamily Affordable Housing) is fully funded by the IOUs, and should be a win / win deal for applicants and contractors. Unfortunately, the program to this point has had trouble attracting smaller, local solar contractors because of how long it takes to get reimbursed for the work.

Unlike a larger solar installation company, smaller shops don’t have the capital to foot the bill upfront for these projects, especially since it is a lengthy process overall. Luckily, that has changed.

SOMAH reached out to us to spread the word on its new Progress Payment Pathway – this is an alternative payment option that allows for a partial incentive payment at an earlier milestone versus the standard single payment option upon project completion.

This two-payment structure pays 60% of the total approved incentive upon proof of installation and the remaining of the total approved incentive once the PV system has received permission to operate by the utility and after approval of the final SOMAH Incentive Claim Milestone. 

With a program budget of up to $100 million annually and an overall target to install 300 MW of solar by 2030, SOMAH is the nation’s largest investment in clean energy benefits for affordable housing tenants. So, there is a lot of opportunity here, and SOMAH hopes this change will attract more of an interest from local installers and property owners. Solar contractors interested in SOMAH can apply two ways:

  • Track A. Register on SOMAH’s list of available contractors. When property owners apply on their own, your name would be made available as a contact.
  • Track B. Submit a project to the program as part of your deal with a property owner. This is the more popular approach.

The process for the Progress Payment Pathway:

  • Receive the Proof of Project Milestone approval
  • Be more than four months away from the Incentive Claim Milestone due date when the progress payment request is submitted.
  • Complete a virtual walkthrough to confirm the system location and that the installation is mechanically complete. This virtual walkthrough will be conducted with a member of the SOMAH PA and an onsite contact.
  • Mechanical completion, for the purposes of the progress payment, is defined as the point at which all solar PV equipment has been installed, including the net generation output (NGO) meter socket, and the system wiring has been completed.

SOMAH is also hosting an online training on July 8 for solar installers. This online webinar is a prerequisite for eligibility to install PV through the SOMAH program. Each contractor and subcontractor must have at least one webinar participant who holds an A, B, C-10 or C-46 license and whose name is identified under the business’s name on the Contractors State License Board webpage. Register for that here.

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