California Solar Initiative Newsletter February 2009                 

CSI Toolbox


CSI Handbook

CSI Handbook


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 Program Handbook

csi-nl-box-septGreetings ,

Amid today’s recessionary uncertainty comes hope that solar energy will provide much-needed job growth and energy independence. This month's feature photo comes from GRID Alternatives' recent installation in partnership with the Oakland Redevelopment Agency, in which job trainees from the Oakland Green Job Corps program installed a 1.7-kW solar electric system for a local low-income family. Read on for important updates from the California Solar Initiative, including solar workshops and our new “CSI Toolbox,” left.

REMINDER: As of March 1st, CSI Program Administrators will accept only the new Reservation Request and Incentive Claim Forms. Contact your CSI Program Administrator for details.

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

- Basics of Photovoltaic Systems for Grid-Tied Applications
- Solar Water Heating Systems
- Solar Power Basics for Residential Customers

- Inspecting PV Systems for Code Compliance
- CSI Workshop
- Photovoltaic Site Analysis and System Sizing


SCE's Workshops

- Introduction to CSI for Installers
- Homeowner Solar Information Session

CCSE's Workshops

- Intro to Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing
- Solar for Homeowners
- SWH Contractor Meeting
- Solar Careers and Opportunities

- Solar Water Heating for Homeowners

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California Solar Initiative Now Offers Rebates for Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing

To bring the benefits of solar energy to the affordable housing community, the California Solar Initiative recently ushered in the latest in a series of solar rebate offerings, known as the Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing (MASH) program.

The state’s new solar program provides incentives to qualifying multifamily buildings, and features higher rebates than the general solar program: $3.30/Watt for common areas and $4.00/Watt for tenant areas. Another feature of MASH that differentiates it from the “general market” CSI program is that MASH rebates remain steady and do not decline as more solar systems are installed and megawatt triggers are reached.

Soon, new utility rates will allow credits from energy produced by a solar system to be distributed to meters throughout an entire complex, allowing tenants to pay their own solar energy bill just like a regular utility bill. And, to encourage more solar installations on multifamily buildings, the MASH program will provide applicants the opportunity to bid for higher incentives through a competitive grant proposal format.

For more information on MASH, including program applications, visit Go Solar, California! or the Program Administrator in your utility area (PG&E, SCE and the California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE) in SDG&E’s service territory):

CCSE (in SDG&E territory) – 866-SDENERGY, email: mash@energycenter.org
SCE – 800-799-4177 (General Questions) or 866-584-7436 (Program Administration), email: CSIGroup@sce.com
PG&E – 877-743-4112, email: solar@pge.com

>> click here to visit the Go Solar, California! Web site.

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CSI Program Makes Huge Strides in January; PG&E Approaches Non-Residential Step 6

Just two months into 2009, and all three CSI Program Administrators (PAs) are processing high numbers of CSI applications, reflective of the ever-growing interest in “going solar.” In the month of January alone, Program Administrators processed Incentive Claim Forms representing more than 33 MW.

PG&E's January numbers are illustrative of this interest. Since the beginning of 2009 through Feb. 5, PG&E received 82 non-residential CSI applications, accounting for about 11 MW. As a result, PG&E has roughly 6 MW available under the non-residential Step 5 incentive and is quickly approaching Step 6 for all non-residential customers. When the megawatt trigger is reached, the non-residential incentives will decline.

“Customers who have not yet submitted their non-residential applications at this time, but plan on doing so, are encouraged to send in complete documentation for these projects, including the application fee if applicable,” said Andrew Yip, PG&E’s CSI Non-Residential Supervisor. “Submitting the application fee with the initial application will ensure that PG&E can process these applications quicker.”

In addition, PG&E interconnected more than 1,200 solar systems in January, roughly twice their monthly average. That’s because a substantial number of residential solar customers asked the utility to hold their application until Jan. 1, 2009, when the revised Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) took effect. The revised ITC allows for a higher tax credit for most residential customers.

Program Administrators remind customers that applicants are notified of the incentive level assigned to their project upon approval of their reservation.

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Trigger Tracker Snapshot for February 27, 2009

California Solar Initiative
February 27 2009
Customer Class
Current Step
  Revised Total MW in Steps
MW Remaining
MW Under Review

The California Solar Initiative Trigger Tracker provides an indication 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, 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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Economic Stimulus Package Includes Key Provisions for Solar Energy

The $787 billion economic stimulus package (also known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) recently signed into law by President Obama contains a host of renewable energy tax incentives and $60 billion worth of loan guarantees to offset the costs of manufacturing renewable energy equipment, developing renewable power projects and building electric transmission lines.

>> click here for a summary of key solar energy provisions on the Solar Energy Industries Association Web site.

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California Solar Initiative Spurs Economic Growth for State

While legislators deliberate policies to stimulate the nation’s economy, recent reports show that California leads the way in market-savvy regulation, jump-starting growth in green energy—and green jobs—throughout the state.

With over $3 billion in statewide solar incentives available, California has seen record growth in its solar sector, and analysts anticipate increasing demand as solar prices decline, consumers become concerned with cash flow and energy costs, and stimulus grants aimed at the renewable energy sector foster more opportunities.

With demand for solar systems comes demand for skilled solar professionals. Labor statistics from 2007 show that more than 1,400 qualified installers and 6,500 “downstream” jobs serve California’s $5 billion solar industry.

According to studies by the California Solar Center and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), more than 3,400 qualified installers will still be needed to meet solar demand by 2010, with the downstream job figure swelling to more than 10,000.

California solar installers are required to hold A, B, C-10, and/or C-46 contractor’s licenses to be eligible to apply for CSI rebates on behalf of customers; local building permits may require a C-10, C-46 or other contractor’s license.

Most solar installers gain specialized technical training at community colleges like Diablo Valley Community College in San Ramon, which prepares its students for success on the NABCEP exams. The University of California Extension also offers professional solar orientation courses in its new Sustainable Management program.

CSI Program Administrators provide free monthly solar classes throughout the state on topics for beginners to sophisticated installers and have so far trained more than 4,000 people. For a schedule of CSI course offerings, contact the Program Administrator in your utility territory:

CCSE (in SDG&E territory) – 866-SDENERGY
SCE – 800-799-4177 (General Questions) or 866-584-7436 (Program Administration)
PG&E – 877-743-4112

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CSI Incentives Fund Wine Country’s Largest Solar Tracking System

J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines' new 756-kW PV tracking system in Paso Robles, Calif.

Among a crush of California wineries going solar, J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines recently turned the switch on its new solar tracking array: a three-acre, state-of-the-art, 756-kW solar photovoltaic (PV) single-axis tracking system designed to offset 75% of the winery’s energy usage at its Paso Robles operations.

This ground-mounted installation comprises 4,320 PV modules that track the sun from east to west daily to optimize production of solar-generated electricity and is the largest of any winery in North America.

The energy generated from J. Lohr’s system, designed and installed by Conergy, will reduce CO2 emissions by 29,887 tons over 25 years. In practical terms, this is equivalent to planting 512 acres of trees or eliminating the air pollution that comes from driving 97 million road miles.

Economically speaking, the system’s energy output will earn a California Solar Initiative incentive payback in the seven figure range.

>> click here for more information about the system and to read the J. Lohr Solar Tracking System Fact Sheet.

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SCE & BrightSource Energy Sign World’s Largest Solar Pact

Southern California Edison and BrightSource Energy have reached agreement on a series of contracts for 1,300 MW of clean solar thermal power, enough to serve nearly 845,000 homes.

The agreement, which calls for a series of seven projects, now requires approval from the CPUC. The first of these solar power plants, sized at 100 MW and located in Ivanpah, Calif., could be operating in early 2013 and is expected to produce 286,000 MWh of renewable electricity per year.

Oakland, Calif.-based BrightSource will build and place each of its plants
in commercial operation as quickly as permitting and infrastructure allow. The full 1,300 MW of projects will produce 3.7 billion kWh of clean energy and avoid more than 2 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually – the equivalent of removing more than 335,000 cars from the road.

BrightSource Energy’s proprietary Luz Power Tower 550 (LPT 550) energy system is built on proven “power tower” technology. The system uses thousands of small mirrors called heliostats to reflect sunlight onto a boiler atop a tower to produce high-temperature steam. The steam is then piped to a conventional turbine, which generates electricity. In order to conserve precious desert water, the LPT 550 system uses air-cooling to convert the steam back into water. The water is then returned to the boiler in an environmentally friendly closed cycle. This fully integrated energy system is designed to offer the highest operating efficiencies and lowest capital costs in the industry.

SCE also launched an expanded standard contract program, which is available for all renewable technologies of 20 MW or less. This program is designed to help smaller renewable generators contribute to reaching California’s aggressive renewable energy and environmental goals. It also provides a faster, simpler way for renewable projects under 20 MW to sell their power to utility customers.

SCE is currently the nation’s leading purchaser of renewable energy and has sufficient contracts in place that, when delivering, will meet 20 percent or more of its customers’ energy needs with renewable energy. SCE’s current renewables portfolio includes 356 MW from solar.

>> click here for more about SCE’s renewable energy program.

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Performance Data Provider Workshop on Automation Set for March 19

CSI Program Administrators PG&E, SCE and CCSE are offering a Performance Data Provider (PDP) Workshop on March 19, targeting PDPs, as well as Performance Monitoring and Reporting System (PMRS) providers interested in providing PDP services.

The purpose of the workshop is to prepare for a seamless transition from the current interim reporting process to automated Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) submittals.

The CSI Program requires that systems receiving Performance-Based Incentive (PBI) payments must have a PDP monitor and report their system’s output to the CSI Program Administrator for the purpose of assessing PBI payments.

Workshop topics will include program requirements, the application process, EDI implementation and specific requirements for each Program Administrator. There also will be ample time for questions and answers.

The workshop will be held March 19, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at PG&E's Pacific Energy Center at 851 Howard St., San Francisco.

>> click here to contact Cassie Mayall of PG&E for more workshop-related questions.

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CSI Public Forum Presentations Now Available Online

The solar industry came out in force recently for the quarterly CSI Public Forum, during which attendees participated in spirited discussions about the state of the program and heard updates from the CPUC and Program Administrators.

Held Jan. 30 in Long Beach, Calif., the event attracted 89 people plus an additional 67 on the webinar and conference call.

Topics included program statistics; the new Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing (MASH) program; CSI Program Handbook and PowerClerk updates; site definitions; a discussion of Assembly Bill 2466; and a tour of the new CSI Statistics Web site.

>> click here to view the new CSI Statistics Web site.
>> click here to view presentations and transcripts available on GoSolarCalifornia.ca.gov.

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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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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