The point of this page is not for me to tell you which Solar Provider to pick, but to give you enough information so that you can choose the best solar provider for you, and for you to avoid pitfalls along the way. 

SOLAR IS RIGHT FOR YOU & YOU KNOW MORE ABOUT SOLAR PANELS & SOLAR SYSTEMS! Now, it is time to contact various solar companies/providers and ask them:
- for a quote, get at least 3 quotes (from at least 3 solar providers);
- what kind of panels they use and whether different panels would change your quote;
- what happens if they go bankrupt: have them clarify how the warranties work then; 
- how warranty claims work: who to go to, do they get settled easily...
- about possible maintenance plans and/or fees, and what that covers: panels cleaning? how often? what else is included?

List of Providers/Companies for...

The solar panels you are about to purchase represent only 15 to 20 percent of the cost of the installation. The rest comes from what is called the balance-of-system costs, namely the inverters, mounting structures, and most of all the labor from design to install. So technically if you can use fewer panels, the price should be cheaper from an installation point. This is what SolarCity claims and is the reason for becoming vertically integrated (i.e. supplying and installing the panels, and why the bought Silveo in 2014, and are currently building a Gigafactory in Buffalo. Howerver, until they start producing in 2018, they are just like all the other installers, just on part of the puzzle.

Most of the solar providers listed here install in Santa Fe County, as well as Bernalillo and Sandoval counties.
Only 2 non-local providers are listed here: Sungevity & Solar City, which install nation-wide.

... Solar Electric (PV) - In Alphabetical Order, Not Order of Preference

Affordable Solar(505) 944-4220www.thinkaffordablesolar.com
AMENERGY(505) 424-1131www.amenergynm.com
CST - Consolidated Solar Technologies (SunPower installer)(505) 982-9044www.gocstSOLAR.com
Osceola Energy(505) 850-8863www.osceolaenergy.com
Positive Energy Solar (SunPower installer)(505) 424-1112 www.positiveenergysolar.com
PPC Solar(575) 737-5896www.ppcsolar.com
Q, S & V Electro Mechanical(505) 660-9047 
Sacred Power, LLC(505) 242-2292 www.sacredpower.com
Sol Luna Solar (575) 770-7042www.sollunasolar.com
Solar City www.solarcity.com
Sungevity(866) SUN-4ALLwww.sungevity.com
STAR Solar Power Systems, LLC(505) 983-6371 

The following chart, courtesy of New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department - Energy Conservation and Management Division, shows the ranking of the top ten contractors in the leading NM counties (based on the data entered into the SMDTC database as of March 28, 2016 for the tax year 2015).

To view ratings of Solar Providers, you can visit: www.solarreviews.com.

... Solar Thermal (Water & Space Heating) - In Alphabetical Order, Not Order of Preference

AMENERGY(505) 424-1131www.amenergynm.com
Malachite Plumbing & Heating, LLC(505) 670-2342www.malachiteplumbingandheating.com
Q, S & V Electro Mechanical(505) 660-9047 
Sacred Power, LLC(505) 242-2292www.sacredpower.com
Sol Luna Solar(575) 770-7042www.sollunasolar.com
SolarLogic, LLC (design services & controllers)(505) 577-4633www.solarlogicllc.com
SolarWise, LLC(505) 690-0749www.SolarWiseUSA.com

This website does not address or explain Solar Thermal, but there is interesting information here.

If you Care about Which Panels will be Installed on your Roof...

... then certain solar providers will not do

For example, SolarCity uses "whatever panel is available in their warehouse at the time of installation". This means they won't give you a choice of brand or type. Considering all the information compiled in this website, I believe that although it might be cost-efficient for the Solar Provider, it is not the best deal for the customer. Eventually SolaryCity will use their own proprietary panel, when they finish their factory

If you want SunPower panels on your roof (currently the highest efficiency panels on the market), you need to know that SunPower sell their panels only through affiliated installers/retailers. In this case, the solar provider will work with you from start to finish on your project, as described below.

In the Santa Fe/Albuquerque area, there are only two SunPower affiliated providers: CST and Positive Energy Solar.

Warranties, Guarantees & Comparison Chart

Once you get the 3 quotes from the different solar providers, I suggest compiling your information in a table such as the one I prepared below for the example of ~5,000 kWh/year electricity use. 

The pricing information dates back to October 2015, when I asked for quotes. Please do not consider these numbers to be final or official and contact the solar providers yourself instead. I am sharing this table for educational purposes only.

The various warranties provided by the various solar providers can be confusing, as they often already include a warranty:
  • on the solar panels themselves: this is to cover a panel failing because of a manufacturing issue for example;
  • on the power production of the solar panels: according to the manufacturer, a panel should produce so many kWh/year, and if the panel under-performs, the solar provider will give you cash back. Note here that an easy way for the solar provider to avoid issues is to sell you more panels than you really need (i.e. over-sizing your system), by claiming a lower production than that expected. This is why it is critical that you have some understanding of your expected system size;
  • on the inverter;
  • on the workmanship of the solar panel installation.
It is important to know that SunPower's warranty is transferable when one sells the house. This gives the house more retail value, as that’s real money being transferred.

The last column is the cost column: it shows the cost before tax credits (pre TC) and the cost after tax credits (post TC) of 40% as it was done in 2015. Note that they are now 30%. 

To open this table bigger in an another window, simply click on it.


As you can see from the above quote, Positive Energy Solar quoted a higher price per Watt than CST for the particular system size. 

And as a rule of thumb, and again, contact the providers for a quote):
  • For systems whose size varies between 1 and 16 panels, you will probably find that CST is cheaper.
  • For systems whose size is larger than 16 panels, you will probably find that Positive Energy Solar is cheaper.

What you are Paying for when you Purchase a Solar System

First, know that you will not be interacting with a Solar Panel manufacturer (until SolarCity starts selling their panels they will manufacture in Buffalo some time in 2018), but you will be interacting with one of the providers listed above, if you are located in NM. 

If the company/provider is local, they usually will take care of the installation (which I happen to feel more comfortable with). 
If they are not local, and design long-distance, they will contract the installation with a local installer. 

If you choose wisely, the provider will handle the process from start to finish, i.e.: 
  • perform a home visit, inspect installation areas;
  • handle your order/contract and production guarantee;
  • design the best system for the available space that you have;
  • supply the solar panels, mount and inverter;
  • perform the installation;
  • deal with/submit all the paperwork to obtain all the necessary approvals and credits:
    • from your home owner association;
    • from the utility company to obtain the interconnection agreement;
    • for the tax refunds/credits/rebates.
You may be able to obtain a breakdown of all these costs from your provider. It does not hurt to ask.

The Various Steps between Signing the Contract & Having your Panels Producing Electricity

1- Before you sign the contract, discuss the financing options with your solar provider:
  • if you'll be paying cash, request a cash discount;
  • if you need to finance, make sure all the financing is in place.
2- You will sign your contract and your production guarantee, and give the 1st down-payment.

3- You will hear from the provider once the engineer has designed your solar system and where its various parts will be located and production numbers:
  • the inverter and the reverse meter can be placed on an inside wall or an outside (preferably North facing) wall;
  • the production meter and the disconnect have to be installed on the outside wall next to your utility meter;
  • the panels will be installed in such a way as to maximize the amount of sun collection:
    • on your roof, far enough from parapets and tubing;
    • in your yard, far enough away from trees.
4- Your solar provider will submit an Application for Interconnection for your solar array. 
Your utility (here, PNM) will eventually determine your application to be complete. You and your solar provider will receive a Notice of Completion of Application for Interconnection.

5- PNM/utility will screen your project in accordance with the New Mexico Interconnection Manual. 
You and your solar provider will receive another notification when your project has gone through the technical screening process. 
If your project successfully passes the technical screening, your project will then be cleared for construction of your solar facility.

6- Your solar provider will build your system

7- Your solar provider will schedule the electrical inspection with the applicable jurisdiction.

8- After your system passes the electrical inspection, the electrical inspector will send the permit to PNM’s New Service Delivery (NSD) Department.
Once the permit is received, PNM/utility will schedule the installation of the net meter. Your solar provider will be notified when the production meter has been set.

9- Your solar provider will be notified when the inspection/interconnection has been scheduled. 
PNM and your solar contractor will conduct the anti-islanding inspection of your system.
Once the inspection completed, your system will be interconnected and will start generating electricity.

10- At this point, since you're still connected to the grid, you're still a customer of the utility company, and you'll still receive a bill for the fact that you're connected. PNM charges $7 (it used to be $5), so with taxes, you'll be paying $7.71 a month.