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

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csi-nl-box-septGreetings ,

This month's feature photo, left, is a 5 kW residential PV system in Moreno Valley, Calif. The system was installed by RCC Solar in June, 2007. Read on for important CSI Program updates, including information on the expanded Federal Investment Tax Credit for residential projects, and to find out how to submit photos of your solar installation.

In This Issue

Upcoming Workshops and Trainings by Program Territory

Free Statewide Workshops by the California Solar Initiative
CSI Program Administrators sponsor free, ongoing workshops for solar customers and installers on a variety of topics.

PG&E's Workshops

CSI Application Process – Tips for a Quick Turnaround
CSI Workshop
CSI Application Process – Tips for a Quick Turnaround


SCE's Workshops

Introduction to CSI for Installers
Introduction to CSI for Installers

CCSE's Workshops

Impacts of Climate Change on Businesses
Solar Industry Orientation
Solar Shade Workshop
Solar Water Heating Pilot Program Training


The next CSI Public Forum will be held in Long Beach, Calif., on Friday, Jan. 30. More details to follow.

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Energy Commission Approves Amended Guidelines for State Solar Programs

Continuing California’s lead in the development of solar energy, the California Energy Commission recently approved amended guidelines for incentive-based solar energy projects.

The amendments allow all program administrators to conform their solar incentive programs to these guidelines no later than July 1, 2009.

Senate Bill 1 requires the Energy Commission—in consultation with the CPUC and local publicly owned electric utilities—to establish eligibility, incentive conditions and rating standards for ratepayer-funded incentives on solar energy projects.

Some key revisions include:

  • Allowing the Energy Commission to conduct annual random audits of solar energy systems to evaluate their operational performance;
  • Allowing additions to existing systems that meet Senate Bill 1 requirements at the time of installation and apply to current program eligibility requirements for the added system;
  • Updating the energy efficiency requirements for newly constructed buildings by defining the Tier I and II levels to reflect the adopted 2008 Title 24 (Part 6) Building Energy Efficiency Standards for building permits submitted on or after August. 1, 2009.

The amendments are included in the guidelines second edition.

>> click here for more information on Senate Bill 1 and a copy of the revised guidelines.

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Program Administrators Issue Updated CSI Handbook

In November, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) issued decisions on key areas affecting the operation of the CSI Program. Specifically, the CPUC approved changes to the CSI Program Handbook in the following areas:

  • Application Fee: Standardized application fee according to system size
  • Electronic Communications: Removal of the word “letter” throughout the Program Handbook to allow for electronic communications
  • Inspections Requirements: Amended Inspection Requirements Section to standardize inspection requirements across service territories and make inspection requirements publicly available and transparent
  • Definition of “Strike”: Removal of the definition of a “strike” so that low- and high-volume installers are fairly penalized for failed inspections
  • Warranty Language: Removal of requirement that warranty language be included in installation contract, and inclusion of new warranty language in the Incentive Claim Form
  • Installer and Equipment Seller Registration: Removal of requirement for Installer to register with Program Administrators and removal of requirement for Equipment Sellers to register with CEC, replaced by Program Administrator (PA) commitment to verify Installer license with California Contractors State Licensing Board during Reservation Confirmation Stage
  • PG&E Address: Change of PG&E address to reflect change in office location
  • Redundant Language: Removal of redundant incentive, trigger tables and additional references to Trigger Tracker
  • Wire Transfers: Additional option for wire transfer per PA discretion
  • EPBB Calculator: Updated EPBB calculator design factor language to include most recent changes
  • February 2008 Addendum: This version of the Program Handbook incorporates changes to Appendices B and H that were included as an Addendum to the last Program Handbook
  • Performance Data Providers: Modifications to PDP requirements following CPUC Resolution
  • Non-PV: Additional information on Non-PV technologies
  • Introduction: Non-substantive changes have been made to Section 1: Introduction to the California Solar Initiative
  • Program Administrator Contact Information: Contact information for the PAs has been moved to the first section of the Handbook
  • Future Additions: Changes related to the Single-Family Low-Income Program and the Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing Program

>> click here to download the Updated CSI Handbook.

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San Diego to Offer New Clean Energy Financing Program

Holiday cheer came to San Diego early this year, with good news for both home and business owners, and the solar industry.

On Dec. 5, Mayor Jerry Sanders introduced the San Diego Clean Generation Program, which will allow San Diego residents to pay for solar energy installations through their property tax bills.

These long-term loans would carry a fixed interest rate and could be transferred to the new owner when a property is sold, meaning that the participating home or business owner need not be concerned with recuperating the value of the system if they move.

“This approach could be a game-changer by overcoming the first-cost barrier, thus enabling a wide range of San Diegans to go solar and otherwise improve the energy performance of their buildings,” said California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE) Director of Programs Andrew McAllister. “We're very excited to assist the city on this program, and to leverage the CSI in the process.”

The City of Berkeley was the first city in California to have such a program. Berkeley First (Financing Initiative for Renewable and Solar Technology) is a program that provides property owners an opportunity to borrow money from the City’s Sustainable Energy Financing District to install solar photovoltaic electric systems and allow the cost to be repaid over 20 years through an annual special tax on their property tax bill. The on-line application for the 40 solar project slots, opened on November 5th and nine minutes later 40 applications had been received. By the November 19th close of the application period, the number of applications reached 77.

City of Palm Desert, which has a similar program, has already authorized 117 projects for over $4 million in funding.

San Diego officials foresee starting with a few hundred applications by fall 2009, and expanding to full city coverage in the months and years to follow. Stay tuned for further developments in early 2009.

>> click here to view the City press release.
>> click here to view the article in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

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Building Industry Show Demonstrates How Going Green Increases Home Sales

The New Solar Homes Partnership (NSHP) set the stage at the Building Industry Show (BIS) by educating builders on how to increase home sales in new home construction with energy efficient solar PV systems.

“Solar Energy Solutions to Increase Home Sales and Profits in Any Market” was presented at the BIS last month in Long Beach by the New Solar Homes Partnership (NSHP). The NSHP panel included SunCraft Solar President Tom Holbrook, Wells Fargo Mortgage, branch manager-Northern L.A. Builder Division, Kirk Hartley, and Marija Krapcevich of the Energy Commission’s Renewable Energy Office. The panel provided builders with an overview about the NSHP, including how the program’s financial and marketing benefits can help increase home sales.

>> click here to learn more about these benefits for NSHP builders.
>> click here to view the Wells Fargo Mortgage Web site.

>> click here to view the Building Industry Show Web site.
>> click here to view the New Solar Homes Partnership Web site.

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Federal Investment Tax Credit Expanded for Residential Systems

Beginning Jan. 1, 2009, the federal government will significantly raise its incentives by removing the existing $2,000 investment tax credit (ITC) cap for residential PV projects. (The ITC for residential solar water heating (SWH) projects is still capped at $2,000.) Both residential and commercial PV projects and commercial SWH projects will thus enjoy the full 30% ITC on the system cost. Current information is available on the Solar Energy Industry Association’s New Solar Federal Tax Credits Frequently Asked Questions page.

>> click here to view the SEIA FAQ page.

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PG&E Reports 100th NSHP Customer

Although the New Solar Homes Partnership (NSHP) program is just six months old, it is already hitting milestones reflective of strong interest to “Go Solar” by the new construction residential market.

PG&E recently reported that it received its 100th NSHP customer application earlier this month, rounding out the year with projects totaling 4 MW, corresponding to $9.8 million in incentives.

“While we are pleased to see the interest in solar, it's also great to see these projects integrate aggressive energy efficiency goals into their plans,” said Shagun Boughen, NSHP supervisor at PG&E. “We're fortunate that PG&E's Residential New Construction program seamlessly aligns with this, providing incentives for qualified efficiency projects.”

“Going solar is great,’ Boughen said, “but, doing so after becoming energy efficient is even better.”

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PG&E Moves to Step 5 for Residential CSI Customers

California’s solar energy demand continues to rise. This month, CSI Program Administrator PG&E announced that it now has enough applications currently under review to reach its CSI Step 4 capacity for residential applications (Step 4 = $1.90 per watt), thus pushing the utility into the Step 5 residential incentive level at $1.55 per watt.

Despite current economic conditions, customer interest in solar is clearly increasing. In fact, November was a banner month for PG&E's CSI team, which received nearly 400 residential Reservation Requests totaling 1.5 MW.

Program Administrators remind customers that the incentive rate is not determined until a project is ready for a reservation.

>> click here to view current incentive levels across customer classes for each CSI Program Territory on the State Incentive Trigger Tracker Web site.
>> click here to view more statistics on solar demand in California on the California Solar Statistics Web site.

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Trigger Tracker Snapshot for December 16, 2008

California Solar Initiative
December 16, 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 is 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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Surge of Interconnection Applications Expected in January

Once the changes to the Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) take effect in January, PG&E ,SCE and SDG&E are anticipating a record number of interconnections.

Because the extended ITC is expected to make “going solar” more financially viable for many customers, the rate of new interconnection applications is expected to be great.

PG&E has identified more than 750 projects as early 2009 interconnections, and believes this amount will continue to grow rapidly.

To manage this surge, PG&E is optimizing resources wherever possible, and requests your help to submit complete applications, and ensure customer sites are poised for installation. In addition, if weather conditions impact interconnection timing, PG&E's Generation Interconnection Services team will post an update on its Web site to ensure customers are aware of the impacts.

SCE is also preparing for an up tick in activity in January, as projects which customers started during fourth quarter 2008 are brought to completion, and new projects are identified and developed.

>> click here to view PG&E's Generation Interconnection Services update.

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State’s Single Largest PV Installation Now Powering Southern California

SCE announced Dec. 1 the completion of the first of its proposed 150 solar photovoltaic (PV) installations on Southern California commercial rooftops.

The project could eventually cover two square miles of existing commercial roofs with 250 megawatts of peak generating capacity – equivalent to building several utility-scale solar power plants.

During recent months, the 600,000-square-foot Fontana, Calif., distribution warehouse roof selected as the first installation site has been fitted with 33,700 advanced thin-film solar panels making it the largest single rooftop solar photovoltaic array in California.

The facility now generates enough power during peak output conditions to meet the needs of approximately 1,300 Inland Empire homes.

“Here in California, we are taking action to protect the environment by passing laws and setting standards, and our companies and entrepreneurs are rising to the challenge,” said Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. “Edison’s rooftop plan is the nation’s largest solar installation program by a utility and it is just one example of how private companies are helping us reduce our emissions and meet our renewable energy goals. Projects like this one show the world you can protect the environment and also pump up the economy, and I am proud to say it is happening right here in California.”

SCE also announced the choice of its next solar installation site: a 458,000-square-foot industrial building in Chino, Calif.

Additionally, the utility announced that the solar panel supplier for the Fontana installation – First Solar of Tempe, Ariz. – is the winning bidder for the utility’s second installation. Decisions have not been made on other building sites.

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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