1. Learn about this resource. 

Residents can have solar panels installed at their home at no cost. We—DC Government—cover the cost for you to work with a local installer to design and install a solar panel system for your home. Solar panel systems can decrease your electricity costs by as much as $500 per year.

 

This program is called Solar for All and Solar Works DC. It is offered by the Department of Energy & Environment, in partnership with the DC Sustainable Energy Utility (DCSEU) and GRID Alternatives Mid-Atlantic, a local nonprofit.

2. Check if you are eligible.

You are eligible if all of these statements are true: 

  • You live in a single-family home (or a building with four or fewer units) that you rent or own.

  • Your home is in DC.

  • Your name, the name of someone in your household, or your landlord is listed on your electricity bill.

  • And if one of these statements is true:

    • Your household receives utility assistance or support from at least one of the following programs: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Security Income (SSI). or​

    • Your household’s annual gross income—your income before paying taxes—is at or below the limits based on your household size. You can check by answering the two questions below.

install solar panels on your home for free?

DO YOU WANT TO

4. Gather more information.

What happens after I apply?


  1. Before the installer visits your home, gather the following documents for you and members of your household.
    • Photo IDs (like a driver’s license)
    • Recent electricity bill from PEPCO listing your name, the name of someone in your household, or your landlord OR you must be able to show that someone in your household owns your home or is responsible for paying your home’s electricity bill
    • Recent pay stubs, social security statements, pension statements, unemployment benefits, child support statements, and/or tax returns
  2. If you rent your home, you’ll need to ask your landlord for written permission (in an email or a letter) to have the solar panels installed.
  3. The installer will visit your home in-person to inspect your roof and your electrical panel. The visit usually takes 1-2 hours, and you will need to be home during the visit. The installer will make attempts to limit contact due to COVID-19, and you and the installer will need to take extra safety precautions.
  4. If your roof is able to support the weight of solar panels and gets enough sunlight, the installer will help you complete an application form in English or Spanish to enroll in the program and collect copies of the documents you gathered in Step 1.
  5. The installer will walk you through the process for the solar panel system installation agreements, and warranties.
  6. Once you’ve approved installation of the solar panel system, the installer will apply for permits from DC’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA). They’ll also submit an application to authorize your installation with Pepco, DC’s electricity provider. It typically takes up to 4 weeks for the installer to receive approval from DRCA and Pepco.
  7. When the installer has received approvals from DCRA and Pepco, they will work with you to schedule your solar panel installation. The installation should take 2-4 days, depending on the weather.
  8. DCRA and Pepco will inspect your solar panel system, typically within 3-4 weeks of the installation.
  9. Pepco will switch your meter to track your solar panel energy production.
  10. Your installer will follow up with you to make sure everything is working. If any issues come up with your solar panel system, your installer will provide maintenance assistance for 20 years.
  11. After the 20-year contract period ends, you will be eligible to purchase the system from your contractor.
If you are eligible but your roof can’t support the weight of solar panels or doesn’t get enough sun, you can still switch to solar by getting your electricity from a local solar energy provider.




Are there any additional requirements I should know about?


At least four times a year, you’ll need to make sure your solar panel system is working properly by checking the display on the system's inverter. Your installer will teach you how to do this.




Who should I contact if I have questions?


First, take a look at the frequently asked questions at the bottom of the page. If you still have questions, please reach out to our Solar for All hotline at (202) 299-5271, Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm. Or, you can email the Solar for All team at solarforall@dc.gov using the subject line “Single Family Solar for All Question.” You can also contact our partner DCSEU with your questions at (202) 479-2222, Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm, or at solar@dcseu.com using the subject line “Single Family Solar for All Question.”




I still need help making my home more environmentally friendly. What should I do?


You can find information about other resources that might help on our environmental resources page. You can also learn more about resources to save money on your utilities.




Frequently Asked Questions


My income is above the limits for this program, but I still want to install solar panels. What should I do? You can find information on how residents can invest in solar without financial assistance on our going solar resource page. Will I still get an electricity bill after I install solar panels on my home? Yes. Installing solar panels on your home will help reduce your electricity bill by about $500 per year, but you will still get a portion of your electricity from the city’s grid. Your monthly electricity bill will include a credit for the energy produced by your solar panels. Do I need to own my home to install solar panels? No. Renters who meet the income requirements are eligible for this program as long as their landlord agrees. How does solar energy work? Solar panels absorb energy from the sun and convert it to electricity you can use. The electricity then flows through your home, powering electronic devices. Any electricity from your solar panels that you don’t use gets sent into the grid for other people to use. Can I make money for the energy produced by my solar panels? Homeowners may be able to make money from utility companies for the energy produced by their solar panels. We—the DC Government—require utility companies to produce a percentage of their electricity from renewable sources, like solar. If they don’t meet that requirement, they can either pay a fine or buy solar renewable energy certificates (or SRECs) from solar panel owners. Ask your solar installer about SRECs, and they can help you connect with an SREC broker. The amount you receive depends on the market price and your negotiations with utility companies. Learn more about SRECs from the Environmental Protection Agency. Do solar panels require maintenance? Solar panels do not require frequent maintenance, but it’s a good idea to check the system a few times a year to ensure it’s working properly. Your contractor or third-party operator will help you maintain your solar system for up to 20 years. Can I still switch to solar even if I can’t install panels on my home? Yes. If your roof can’t support the weight of solar panels or doesn’t get enough sun, you can still switch to solar by getting your electricity from a local solar energy provider. Are there other ways for me to save on my utility bills? Yes. Your installer will offer to sign you up to get help paying your electricity, gas, oil, and/or water bills. You can also learn more about resources to save money on your utilities.




Do all eligible applicants have solar panels installed?


No, funding for solar panel systems is on a first-come, first-served basis.





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Keywords: homeowners, renters, free home solar panels, income limits, solar power, electric bill, solar roof, conserve energy, energy conservation, energy bill, lower energy bill, save money on my electricity bill, get my electricity from solar, clean energy, sustainability

This page was last updated May 2021.

Department of Energy and Environment

3. Apply.


You can take the first step online OR over the phone:

  • Complete the online interest form. The DCSEU will call or email you within 2 business days to confirm your eligibility and connect you with a local installer. If you’re eligible, the local installer will schedule a time to visit your home and inspect your roof.
OR
  • Call one of the local installers (listed below), and let them know that you’re interested in Solar for All. They’ll ask you some questions about your eligibility and then schedule a time to visit your home and inspect your roof.
You can apply at any time.