What is virtual solar? 

SMUD’s Virtual Solar helps make solar energy possible for customers living in under-resourced communities. Virtual Solar is open to qualifying multifamily properties with as few as 4 units.

How does it work? 

  • Qualified property owners install a solar system on their complex.
  • A portion of the money generated by the solar system is returned to customers in the complex.
  • Each account will receive a monthly bill credit for the solar generation.
  • Clean, renewable electricity from local sources.
  • Shows the importance of renewable energy in our lives
  • Supports the local green economy. All solar installations are in SMUD territory.
  • No sign-up process for tenants. Virtual Solar starts when they begin electric service with SMUD. They don’t have to do anything to begin receiving solar benefits. 


  • Property manager/owner must be in good standing with SMUD.  
  • Property must be a qualified multifamily affordable housing development located within SMUD’s service territory.  
  • Complex must have a minimum of four units and a common area to be considered for Virtual Solar.  
  • Owner must install the PV solar equipment or system(s) with the electrical design that has been approved by SMUD. Storage systems (e.g., batteries) are not permitted under Virtual Solar. 
  • For retrofits, the owner must allow SMUD to identify energy efficiency opportunities during an energy assessment. 
  • All eligibility requirements must be maintained throughout enrollment in Virtual Solar. 

SEED incentives

Save money on your solar installation by selecting a qualified SEED solar installer. Projects installed and completed by a Supplier Education and Economic Development (SEED) Solar Installer may be eligible for special incentives. The SEED program offers a competitive edge to local small businesses, including contractors that install solar.

  • SMUD is offering incentives of $0.60/watt of installed solar up to $ 500,000.00 per project
  • Incentives are limited and reserved on a first come, first served
  • For more information on our SEED program or how to register as a SEED solar installer, please visit smud.org/SEED.

Credits & allocation

  • An allocation table representing the percentage of KW distribution for the units and commercial or common areas is required when applying.
  • Typically, each unit is given the same distribution based on its size 1, 2 or 3 bedrooms, etc.
  • At least 51% of the allocation has to benefit the residents and can include common areas billed under the commercial rate.
  • Credits are $9 and $21 per KW percentage allocated during non-summer and summer seasons, respectively. 
  • The monthly credit will be calculated using system size (KW) multiplied by the allocated percentage, multiplied by the applicable credit (KW * % allocation * $9 or $21).

Customers will continue to receive any Energy Assistance Program Rate (EAPR) and/or Medical Equipment Discount Rate (MED Rate) discounts

  • Have an executed regulatory agreement indicating the complex is qualified as an affordable housing property.
    • If an executed regulatory agreement is pending but not recorded yet; a letter from SHRA confirming project will have an executed regulatory agreement with restricted rent and number of units will be accepted
    •  If the builder/owner does not have an executed regulatory agreement or a letter from SHRA, they can email the Virtual Solar team to review potential property eligibility.
  • Complex must have a minimum of four units and a common area to be considered for Virtual Solar.
  • State and local eligibility requirements, contacts, and documentation can be found using the following links.

Tenant engagement 

Project participants (property owner, property manager, or contractor) are required to participate in SMUD's efforts to engage directly with the building tenants (residents) during various phases of the project. Tenant engagement activities may include distribution of SMUD educational materials by:

  • Digital delivery (e.g. community newsletter)
  • On-site community educational events
  • Apartment visits

Ready to sign up?

We’d love to help you find out if our Virtual Solar is right for your complex. Send us an email to let us know you're interested or if you have any questions.

Email the Virtual Solar team