California Center for Sustainable Energy | Pacific Gas & Electric Company | Southern California Edison
California Solar Initiative (CSI) Newsletter - October 2008

Useful Links

California Center for Sustainable Energy

Pacific Gas and Electric Company

Southern California Edison

California Public Utilities Commission 

Go Solar California Web site

CSI Handbook



This week, thousands of solar industry professionals from around the world are attending the annual Solar Power International Conference and Expo in San Diego. With solar booming worldwide, California has become the US leader in solar installations. This month's feature photo comes from the Long Beach Convention Center, host of last year's Solar Power conference, hosting a 750 kW system owned by MMA Renewable Ventures. Read on for important CSI Program updates and a chance to submit photos of your solar system.

In This Issue

October 2008 Workshops and Trainings
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
      1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11


13 14

Solar Power International 2008
Solar Power International 2008

17 18
Solar Power Basics for Residential Customers

9th Annual San Diego Solar Homes Tour


19 20 21
Solar Water Heating Basics for Homeowners

Installer Training
Solar for Homeowners North County

Installer Training

Photovoltaic Site Analysis and System Sizing

Performance Data Provider and Performance Monitoring and Reporting Service for CSI

Solar Shade Workshop


CSI Workshop


26 27
CSI and the Investment Tax Credit


Installer Training

Inspecting PV Systems for Code Compliance

Installer Training

Solar for Homeowners
(San Diego)
(Northern California)
(Los Angeles Area)

CPUC Releases CSI Staff Progress Report

csi-nl-box-septOctober, 2008. The CPUC Energy Division released the latest California Solar Initiative Staff Progress Report, detailing the CSI Program's progress and demand statistics through third quarter, 2008. According to Molly Tirpak Sterkel, Distributed Generation/CSI Program Supervisor at the CPUC, demand for solar in California weathered market fears of Federal tax uncertainty without decline. "All three Program Administrators saw CSI applications jump by more than 25 per cent in both residential and commercial solar sectors from second quarter," she reports. "Demand for solar shows no signs of slowing, and California's solar installations are reaching record levels."

>> click here to view the CSI Staff Progress Report.

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CSI Program Forum at Solar Power's "Free Public Night" Wednesday 10/15

The CSI Program Administrators host the next CSI Program Forum at Solar Power International in San Diego during the conference's "Public Night," Wednesday, October 15th from 6 pm to 8:30pm in Room 20-A of the San Diego Convention Center. The CSI Program Forum was established to provide a venue for public stakeholders to identify and discuss top priority issues related to the administration and implementation of the CSI program and suggest consensus-based revisions to the CSI Program Handbook. The event is free and public participation is welcome.

>> click here for Agenda and Presentations.

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Investment Tax Credits Extended Under Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008

As part of Congress’s emergency bailout package, the Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008 was signed into law by President Bush on October 3, 2008, extending critical Federal Investment Tax Credits for solar customers and other renewable energy projects. This landmark legislation contains $18 billion in incentives for clean and renewable energy technologies, as well as for energy efficiency improvements. The bill includes:

  • Eight-year extension of the tax credits for investment in commercial and residential solar projects
  • Eight-year extension of the tax credits for investment in commercial fuel cells
  • Increase to 3,000/kW or 30 percent of the capital cost (whichever is lower)
  • Removal of the $2,000 cap on investments in residential solar electric installations,
  • Addition of small wind energy and geothermal heat pump projects as qualifying installations for tax credits;
  • Addition of utilities as eligible tax credit recipients

>> click here for more information.
>> click here to view HR 6049 and search for H.R. 1424.Then scroll down to Division B: Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008.

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CSI Marketing Tools Debuted by the Program Administrators

To de-mystify to the process of going solar for businesses and homeowners, the CSI Program Administrators published "A Consumer's Guide to the California Solar Initiative Statewide Incentives for Solar Energy Systems." This simplified guidebook contains an abundance of information for those considering installing solar systems, including how solar energy works, the benefits of Net Energy metering and how to apply for state incentives. The Consumer Guide is also available in quantity for free to installers who may want to distribute the 20-page booklet to potential customers.

>> click here to view the Consumer Guide.

Now available from the CSI Program Administrators is a Flash-based TUTORIAL for the CSI Online Application Tool. This step-by-step tutorial takes the applicant through the CSI online application tool and provides information to the applicant about how to make the most out of their customers’ CSI applications by managing project status in their company profile. The tutorial is perfect for the fast-growing solar market in California, where new solar professionals are hired every day. The tutorial is found on the Program Administrator websites and www.gosolarcalifornia.ca.gov.

>> click here to start the tutorial.

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Visit CSI Booth #1024 at Solar Power International FREE Wednesday 10/15

Solar Power International, North America's largest solar industry conference and expo, is proud to welcome solar fans everywhere to FREE Public Night starting at 5:30 PM on Wednesday, October 15, 2008. While there, be sure to visit the Go Solar, California! booth (#1024) in the Expo Hall to meet with experts from the California Solar Initiative who will be on hand to answer questions and show off new program tools and updates. And if you happen to be an installer, be sure to ask for extra copies of the new California Solar Initiative Consumer Guide to distribute in your pitch books. CSI Program Administrators look forward to seeing you there!

>> click here for the Solar Power International website.

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CCSE Moves to Incentive Step 4 for Residential Projects

After 10 months of steady application submittals to CCSE's CSI Residential Solar Program, the incentive rate recently moved from step 3, $2.20 per watt or .34 per kWh to step 4, $1.90 per watt or .26 per kWh. Asked how the drop in incentive will affect San Diego's local solar market, CSI Residential Solar Program Manager, Ben Airth said, "It gives more of an impetus for homeowners to install solar now because they know $1.90/Watt won’t last forever." Despite the recent drop in the incentive rate, applications continue to come in at a high rate.

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Trigger Tracker Snapshot for October 15, 2008

California Solar Initiative
October 15, 2008
Customer Class
Current Step
  Revised Total MW in Steps
MW Remaining
MW Under Review

The California Solar Initiative Trigger Tracker provides an indicator of when the CSI incentive levels are expected to drop by showing the reservation and review status of all incentive classes. This snapshot compares the megawatts remaining in each step with the megawatts under review, so that users can estimate how close the incentives are to declining. When there are more megawatts under review than remaining in the step, then it may be probable that any new applications will be at the next (i.e. LOWER) incentive step level.

>> click here
to view today’s Statewide Trigger Tracker.

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Solar Water Heating Pilot Program (SWHPP) Issues First Commercial Incentive to Low-Income Senior Housing Facility

San Diego City Councilmember, Tony Young, joined the California Center for Sustainable Energy's (CCSE) Executive Director, Irene Stillings, in the presentation of a $31,500 incentive check to the owner of an apartment complex who took part in the SWHPP. The new solar water heating system will benefit seniors living at Euclid Terrace Apartments, a low-income housing complex. The entire system, comprised of 43 solar-thermal collectors and 11 thermal storage tanks, reduces energy used for water heating by nearly 50 percent and produces an annual savings of $10,000 in utility costs. This was the first incentive under the "area" method in the SWHPP.

>> click here to view news coverage of the event.

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CCSE Increases Off-Site CSI Trainings and Workshops

Attendance numbers have always been high at CSI workshops and trainings held at CCSE's location in Kearny Mesa, however the demand to offer more off -site classes to installers, homeowners and business owners is growing. CCSE recognizes the convenience of having the workshop come to the attendees, rather than the attendees coming to the workshop, and CCSE is providing that service throughout San Diego County. "CCSE identified a need to provide off site trainings. We began with workshops in our office, then to online webinars and are now moving the physical workshops into the community, "said John Supp, CSI Program Manager. Recent off-site workshops have been located at a North County Homeowners Association, and presented to homeowners at the Rancho Bernardo Winery and to a group of 2007 San Diego fire survivors in East County who are rebuilding their homes.

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Program Administrators Receive Record-setting Number of Applications!

CSI Program Administrators continue to see strong interest in the CSI program as applications are received at a record-setting rate. In the month of September, PG&E  received an influx of applications, making it the second highest month for Reservation Request Forms and the highest month for Incentive Claim Forms in the Program Administrator's territory (722 and 548 respectively). This uptick was expected in response to the anticipated expiration of the Investment Tax Credit on December 31, 2008, and CSI Program Administrators had been actively engaging customers to encourage early and complete application submittals. Fortunately the ITC was extended through 2016, and Program Administrators will continue this communication strategy with a series of webinars to underscore the importance of submitting applications with all required paperwork so as not to delay interconnections.

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Solar Electric Power Association Announces Solar Business Achievement Awards

The Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) will announce the 2008 Solar Business Achievement Award recipients at a ceremony during SEPA's Annual Membership Meeting taking place during Solar Power International 2008. The awards allow SEPA's Board of Directors to annually recognize solar industry leaders based on their efforts to increase the adoption of solar energy as a prominent role in the fight against climate change. Winners will be announced in the categories of Utility CEO of the Year, Solar Portfolio Leadership, Innovation in Solar Program Design, Community Outreach and Public Awareness, and Partnering for Success.

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New Solar Homes Partnership Opens Nation's Largest 100% Solar Community

With support from the New Solar Homes Partnership, Pinn Brothers Fine Homes unveiled the nation's largest 100% solar master-planned community at a press event on October 8, 2008. The Palmilla Community, located in Brentwood, CA, is projected to exceed state energy efficiency standards by 35 percent and qualifies to receive the highest level of support offered by the New Solar Homes Partnership. In cooperation with OCR Solar & Roofing and BP Solar, Pinn Brothers is set to install solar electric systems as standard features on 455 homes, 108 apartments and two recreational centers.

>> click here for more information on the Palmilla Community.

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CPUC Issues Proposed Decision on Multi-family Affordable Solar Housing

On Sept. 9, 2008, the CPUC issued a proposed decision for the $108 million Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing (MASH) program.

>> click here
for details.

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Call for Photos of CSI-Funded Residential Solar Systems

Calling all installers! This is a great opportunity to showcase your CSI-funded residential solar projects. The California Solar Initiative Program seeks photos of CSI-funded solar systems for use in future newsletters or other CSI-related publicity. Photos can include completed residential solar PV systems, shots of installations in progress, or solar water heating installations.

Please provide the following when submitting your solar PV system, solar water heating system, or installation photos:

  • Name of photographer
  • Name of installer, seller and/or system owner
  • System size and location
  • Date project was installed
  • Full permission to use photo in CSI-related publicity

>> click here to submit your CSI-funded solar system photos.

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    |          |     
CCSE | PG&E | SCE | ©2008 California Solar Initiative


The CSI program is funded by California investor-owned utility
customers and administered by Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas
& Electric, and the California Center for Sustainable Energy under the
auspices of the California Public Utilities Commission.

California Public Utilities Commission
505 Van Ness Ave.
San Francisco, California 94102