California Center for Sustainable Energy | Pacific Gas & Electric Company | Southern California Edison
California Solar Initiative Newsletter January 2009

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Tune in for the California Solar Initiative Public Forum Jan. 30, 2009!
The next quarterly California Solar Initiative (CSI) Public Forum will be hosted by Southern California Edison on Jan. 30, 2009, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at The Grand Long Beach Event Center, 4101 E. Willow St., Long Beach, CA 90815.

>> click here for directions to The Grand Long Beach Event Center.
  • >> click here for the Agenda.
  • Live teleconference: 866-516-2964 -- Conference ID# 80566846
  • >> click here to join the online (Webinar) meeting
  • Enter your name and email address
  • Enter the meeting password: CSI123
  • Click “Join Now.”

csi-nl-box-septGreetings ,

The statistics are in: 2008 was the biggest year in California’s solar history, with 158 megawatts of new PV systems installed by residents, businesses and local organizations in investor-owned utility territories.

Data from the January 2009 California Solar Initiative Staff Progress Report shows explosive growth in the last quarter thanks to CSI Incentives, Federal Tax Credits and a policy shift felt around the nation towards the clean power of the sun.

This month’s featured photo shows everything we love about California: the sea, the sunlight—and a 5.6 kW residential solar system generating clean power over Monterey Bay. Read on for important updates from the California Solar Initiative, including the latest CSI Staff Progress Report and a chance to submit photos of your CSI-funded solar project.

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

Solar Power Basics
CSI Workshop and Simulcast
Solar Power Basics
CSI Workshop and Simulcast


SCE's Workshops

Introduction to CSI for Installers
Introduction to CSI for Installers
Introduction to CSI for Installers

CCSE's Workshops

Solar Water Heating Basics for Homeowners
Solar for Homeowners
Economics of Solar: Making the Financial Case
Commercial Solar Economics & Financing

Solar Water Heating Pilot Program

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Solar Installations in California Doubled in 2008 Compared to Prior Year

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) today issued a quarterly staff progress report on the California Solar Initiative (CSI) showing that in 2008, Californians installed twice as many megawatts (MW) of solar power than the year before, and demand for new solar projects continues to hit record levels.

According to the CPUC’s January Staff Progress Report on the California Solar Initiative, homeowners, businesses, and local governments in California’s Investor-Owned Utility (IOU) territories installed 158 MW of distributed solar photovoltaics (PV) in 2008, doubling the 78 MW installed in IOU territories installed in 2007. California currently boasts 441 MWs of grid-tied distributed solar PV systems, the highest in the country.

“The California Solar Initiative continues to reach major milestones,” said CPUC Energy Division director Julie Fitch. “California is the nation’s largest solar market and its continued growth demonstrates that solar is a viable energy resource that can strengthen California’s economy as we pursue aggressive goals to fight global warming.”

The California Solar Initiative has spurred more than $5 billion worth of private investment in solar projects by California consumers. On average, for every $1 in incentive committed by the California Solar Initiative, an additional $6 in private funds is invested in solar technology in California. To date, the California Solar Initiative has paid or reserved nearly $775 million in incentives for total estimated project costs totaling over $5 billion.

Based on the large number of new applications to the program received in the fourth quarter, the rate of installations for solar projects in California is expected to remain strong in 2009. The CPUC reports that in the fourth quarter, the California Solar Initiative broke previous records for most applications in a single quarter and most applications received in a single month.

“We are thrilled with the California Solar Initiative's pace of installations and pleased to see that new solar applications continue at record levels. Even the economic downturn has not been able to slow the record pace at which Californians are going solar,” said Molly Tirpak Sterkel, Distributed Generation and California Solar Initiative Program Supervisor at the CPUC.

>> click here to download the California Solar Initiative January 2009 Staff Progress Report in PDF format.

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CPUC and CSI Program Administrators Issue New CSI Program Handbook

The CPUC has recently made decisions on a number of key areas that will affect the operation of the CSI Program. Specifically, the CPUC changed the current Program Handbook in the following areas:

  • Transfer of CSI reservation from one site to another: Customers may now transfer their CSI reservations from one site to another if the first site is found unsuitable. Other conditions apply.
  • New panels added to existing inverter: Clarifies that new panels added to an existing inverter are eligible for CSI incentives, with some conditions.
  • Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing (MASH) Program: Several sections have been updated to include the MASH Program.
  • Metering Requirements, Performance Data Provider (PBI) payment terms and Performance Data Provider (PDP) requirements.

>> click here to download the updated CSI Program Handbook.

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Solar Water Heating Pilot Program Interim Evaluation Report Now Available

The California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE) recently issued the Solar Water Heating Pilot Program (SWHPP) Interim Evaluation Report, which was prepared by Itron, Inc. The report contains a detailed account of program activities to date, as well as market research on solar water heating in California, the United States generally and selected international markets. The report’s findings include:

  • Current California solar water heater owners tend to be conservative users of energy and water; therefore, expanded adoption of the technology is likely to produce greater savings and cost effectiveness within the remaining population of high-use consumers.
  • The SWHPP has been relatively effective at increasing adoption of SWH systems by customers with natural gas water heaters. This is important since any program funded by AB1470 would focus on gas customers.
  • A number of barriers must be overcome to enable widespread adoption of SWH systems, including permitting processes and cost, initial system cost, lack of customer awareness of the technology and benefits and a shortage of experienced installers.

The evaluation will serve to inform the CPUC in the development of a program under Assembly Bill 1470 (AB 1470), which instructed the CPUC to consider information from the Pilot during the development of a $250 million statewide solar water heating program.

>> click here to view the Solar Water Heating Pilot Program Interim Report.

>> click here to view the Solar Water Heating Pilot Program Interim Report Appendices.

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Renewable Energy Permitting Symposiums: Ushering in Permitting Best Practices

On December 15, 2008, the Renewable Energy Permitting Symposium gathered solar, building, code, fire and permitting leaders from various jurisdictions across the Bay Area to San Jose for a dialogue on removing barriers to the adoption of clean power production, with an emphasis on solar energy systems. Attendees received information on a variety of issues, including Solar Best Practices, Permitting Application Simplification, and State Fire Marshal's Solar Installation Guidelines. Representatives from the Department of Energy, CalSEIA, State Fire Marshall and solar industry consortium SolarTech led discussions on ways jurisdictions can create a model permitting process for solar that can be replicated across the country.

Presentations from the event, including updates on California guidelines, Solar ABCs Best Practices, and State Fire Marshal’s Solar Installation Guidelines, are available on the City of San Jose’s Environmental Services Web site.

Future symposiums will be held in areas throughout PG&E's service territory.

>> click here to view the Solar ABC's Best Practices.
>> click here
to view the State Fire Marshal's Solar Installation Guidelines.
>> click here
to view presentations from the symposium on the City of San Jose’s Environmental Services Web site.

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PG&E’s CSI Team Records Banner Fourth Quarter

Throughout the fourth quarter of 2008, PG&E's Solar and Customer Generation team received and confirmed more California Solar Initiative incentive applications than in any quarter since the program’s January 2007 inception.

Applications received totaled 2,277, and applications reserved totaled 2,523. The second-highest quarter for applications received occurred in the third quarter of 2008 (2,028 applications), while the second-highest quarter for applications reserved occurred in the fourth quarter of 2007 (2,262 applications).

This data, reported as of Dec. 30, 2008, shows that the CSI team reserved 12% more applications in the fourth quarter of 2008 than in the fourth quarter of 2007, and that despite challenging economic conditions, the CSI program in Northern and Central California remains robust.

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CPUC Hosts Workshop on Renewable Energy Credits for Local Governments

The CPUC Energy Division recently held a workshop to discuss issues related to Assembly Bill 2466 (AB 2466), detailing Renewable Energy Credits for local governments.

AB 2466 allows eligible customers to apply excess renewable power produced from a customer account as energy credits against charges for power delivered to one or more of its other accounts. Signed by the governor on Sept. 28, 2008, and codified as Section 2830 of the Public Utilities Code, AB 2466 became effective Jan. 1, 2009.

>> click here to view the full presentation from this workshop.

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CPUC Hosts Virtual Net Metering Workshop

The CPUC Energy Division recently held a workshop to discuss issues related to Virtual Net Metering (VNM) for the Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing (MASH) program.

VNM allows the benefit of on-site solar generation to income-eligible or affordable housing multi-family buildings without requiring the generator to be physically connected to each billing meter. The common area and each residential unit receives retail electric service so that any applicable generation credits (kilowatt-hour) can be applied to reduce its electricity usage (kilowatt-hour) charges.

>> click here to view view the full presentation from this workshop.

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CCSE Workshop Helps Growing Solar Industry

CCSE recently hosted Liz Merry’s “Solar Industry Orientation for Business,” a fast-paced, entertaining orientation to the solar industry for people wanting to start a solar business or develop business within the solar industry.

The workshop included information on solar installation, building integrated (BIPV) and thin-film solar technologies, regulatory practices and the future of solar policy.

The more than 100 attendees explored the five core influencing topics that describe the grid-tied PV industry: technology basics, industry value chain, economic analysis, policy drivers and regulatory structure.

In addition to gaining insight about how to develop business with solar companies, participants learned how to research the industry themselves, build solar networks and which key organizations and events drive the solar industry.

Ms. Merry’s courses are also being offered at the UC Berkeley Extension.

>> click here for more information on upcoming workshops at CCSE
>> click here for more information on the UC Berkeley Extension.

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SCE Brings “Solar Sessions” to SoCal Homeowners in 2009

SCE's Javier Burgos conducts Homeowner Solar Information Sessions

Homeowners in Southern California Edison’s service territory will have more opportunities in 2009 than ever before to learn about solar energy and the CSI program.

That’s because SCE’s Homeowner Solar Information Sessions (HSIS), which kicked off to much success in the fourth quarter of 2008, are being expanded in the new year.

Beginning Feb. 18 and continuing throughout the year, SCE will hold 40 HSIS sessions — about one per week — at different locations throughout its 50,000-square-mile service territory.

“We want to make sure that SCE customers are properly informed about the many advantages of ‘going solar,’” said SCE’s Javier Burgos. “That means showing customers that the combination of CSI incentives and the federal incentive tax credit makes dollars and sense.”

>> click here for more information or to sign up for one of SCE’s HSIS sessions.

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Other Solar Electric Technologies: Debut of CPV Calculator

In conjunction with the addition of other solar electric generating technologies becoming eligible for CSI incentives, a CPV calculator recently debuted at http://www.csi-epbb.com/.

The calculator will help determine the estimated total CSI incentive at the current trigger level after the user inputs the estimated annual system output. (Please keep in mind that incentives for all CPV projects will be based on the actual performance of the system, rather than its estimated performance.)

Examples of other solar electric generating technologies include concentrating photovoltaics (CPV), parabolic trough systems, and “power tower” technologies. To date the only CPV equipment certified for the CSI program is the SolFocus' Sf-1000P module.

Systems can become CSI-eligible by being added to the California Energy Commission list of eligible solar electric equipment.

>> click here to view the California Energy Commission's list of eligible solar electric equipment.

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Go Solar Homes Shine In 2008: Sweepstakes Winner Announced

Californians embraced the power of the sun in the California Energy Commission's first Go Solar California Sweepstakes that educated consumers about solar and energy efficiency. Nearly 17,000 entries were received in the contest and 34 percent — 5,795 entries — requested more information about solar energy.

Shirley Topp of Corona, Calif., won the 2009 Toyota Prius, the grand prize in the sweepstakes. Entrants were challenged to test their solar knowledge by watching an educational video and then were quizzed about the New Solar Homes Partnership (NSHP). Other winners of the “green” prizes that included Energy Star appliances and Solio cell phone chargers are M. Rosborough of Riverside; H. Panos of San Jose; and P. Landsberg of West Hollywood. Prizes provided by Clear Channel.

To date, 1.6 megawatts of new solar produced electricity has already been installed on 637 new energy-efficient solar homes through the NSHP. Total NSHP applications represent 6,491 systems and approximately 12.4 megawatts of solar PV capacity.

A second “Go Solar California Sweepstakes” will launch in the spring of 2009.

>> click here to view the Go Solar California Sweepstakes Web site.
>> click here to view the New Solar Homes Partnership Web site.
>> click here to view the total NSHP applications so far.

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Trigger Tracker Snapshot for January 28, 2009

California Solar Initiative
January 28, 2009
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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Call for Photos of CSI-Funded Solar Systems

Calling all installers! This is a great opportunity to showcase your CSI-funded 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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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. The program began January 1, 2007 and runs for 10 years.

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