California Solar Initiative Newsletter March 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


Springtime brings new technologies to the world of solar. SolarCity, the No. 1 residential installer in the CSI database by sales volume, has begun installing new thin-film modules from First Solar this year, including this 9- kW DC installation in San Rafael, Calif. Read on for important updates from the CSI Program Administrators—and a chance to submit photos of your solar energy system.

In This Issue

INFOGRAPHIC: California's Top Ten Solar Counties

This chart includes 19,935 residential and non-residential CSI applications (both pending and installed) totaling 358.1 MW of current solar capacity statewide. This is one of many reports available for public download on the California Solar Statistics Web site.

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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


SCE's Workshops

CCSE's Workshops

Energy Commission

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Successful Start for Multifamily Affordable Housing Program

Less than a month after its official launch, CSI’s Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing (MASH) program is up and running.

MASH Program Administrators—SCE, PG&E and CCSE (in SDG&E's service territory) —report that Track 1 applications received so far total more than 1MW in capacity and $3 million in incentives.

Affordable housing developers are eager to take advantage of rebate levels that are approximately double that of the general market program ($3.30/Watt for common areas and $4.00/Watt for tenant areas). All MASH rebates, regardless of size, are paid in one up-front payment.

A new MASH-specific EPBB calculator is now available, as well as more information on MASH including program applications on the CPUC Web site. You may also contact the Program Administrator in your area:

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

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CPUC Hosts PV System Cost Workshop

On March 13, 2009, the CPUC and CSI Program Administrators hosted solar experts and stakeholders at a public workshop on solar PV pricing. The objective of this workshop was to develop a better understanding of the various costs associated with distributed solar PV generation pricing and to explore potential opportunities for policy intervention that could help fulfill the CSI program’s goals related to market transformation.

Panelists discussed three main areas of consideration regarding PV system costs:
(1) Collection of CSI program data with respect to project costs, current methods and proposed changes to current methods;
(2) Cost elements of PV project development and associated cost reduction potential based on a review of cost reduction studies performed in various markets; and,
(3) CSI program implementation and policy to support downward pressure on solar pricing. Agenda, presentation and workshop transcript are available online.

>> click here to view the agenda, presentation and workshop transcript.

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New CSI Program Handbook Changes Become Effective April 1, 2009

On March 2, 2009, CSI Program Administrators filed advice letters with the CPUC to implement a few of the statewide program eligibility requirements adopted by the California Energy Commission in 2008. Proposed changes to the CSI Program Handbook will modify requirements for inverter-meters, shade calculations, field verification and enhancements to the energy efficiency audits currently required of customers under CSI Program rules. If approved by the CPUC, these Handbook modifications are expected to take effect when the new CSI Program Handbook is released. CSI Program Administrators will implement the new requirements no later than July 1, 2009.

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Economic Recovery Programs Target California’s Energy Future

The $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) could pump more than $60 billion into California to jump-start the state economy and put Californians back to work, while improving the state’s economic and energy future.

The California Energy Commission expects to receive about $295 million for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs. The Energy Commission's two main areas of focus will be the State Energy Program and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program.

There is also an estimated $36 billion available nationwide that the U.S. Department of Energy will administer through competitive grants and other financing for energy and climate change-related programs. The Energy Commission will coordinate with other state agencies, departments and other entities to identify ways to leverage these funds. Policymakers are deliberating on how much of the ARRA funds may be allocated to the California Solar Initiative and in what manner they may best serve the solar program.

>> click here to view the new Web site launched by the Energy Commission designed to keep Californians informed with timely information about economic and energy stimulus activities.

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Padre Dam Municipal Water District Offsets Recreation Preserve

Padre Dam Municipal Water District in Santee Lakes, CA

On Feb. 25, 2009, the Padre Dam Municipal Water District held a "Flip the Switch" inauguration ceremony for its 862-kW solar system in Santee Lakes. Padre Dam is a provider of water, waste water, recycled water and recreational services to the eastern suburbs of San Diego. The zero-emission system hosted at Santee Lakes was deployed through a partnership with Borrego Solar Systems, Inc., a leading designer and installer of grid-tied solar electric power systems, and SunEdison, North America's largest solar energy services provider.

“Our vision is to conserve and protect our natural resources. Santee Lakes is part of that vision,” said Allen Carlisle, Director of Parks and Recreation, Padre Dam Municipal Water District. “By hosting a solar energy system in the preserve, Padre Dam is taking another step to protect and improve the local environment.”

The system consists of 14,360 PV modules and is estimated to generate more than 1.4 million kWh of clean, renewable energy annually. Over 20 years of production, the system will offset more than an estimated 28.2 million pounds of carbon dioxide. This is the equivalent of taking more than 2,700 cars off the road for one year.

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Earth Day Solar Fair Will Mark NSHP Sweepstakes Launch

The New Solar Homes Partnership (NSHP) will partner with the state’s builders, solar PV providers, utilities and other solar stakeholders to host a Solar Fair at the State Capitol on Earth Day, April 22.

The fair marks the launch of the 2009 Go Solar, California! sweepstakes and consumer outreach efforts aimed at drawing attention to the positive environmental and financial benefits of energy efficient solar homes and raising the profile of builders that have already committed to the NSHP.

The event is being hosted in conjunction with a student competition championed by SMUD, Roseville Electric, Lodi Electric and the California Energy Commission.

This year the sweepstakes features a grand prize “Green Dream Home Makeover” that includes solar PV panels, Energy Star® appliances, a green redesign plan and a home energy audit.

>> click here for more information.

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PG&E Launches 500 MW Solar Power Initiative

PG&E recently announced plans for a five-year program to develop up to 500 megawatts (MW) of clean solar PV power in its Northern and Central California service area, one of the largest undertakings of its kind in the country.

The proposed program consists of up to 250 MW of utility-owned PV generation—PG&E's first direct investment in renewable generation in more than a decade —and an additional 250 MW to be built and owned by independent developers under a streamlined regulatory process. PG&E submitted its plan to the California Public Utilities Commission on Feb. 24 for approval, which could come later this year.

If all projects are up and running by 2015, they are expected to deliver more than 1,000 gigawatt hours (GWh) of power each year, equal to the annual consumption of about 150,000 average homes.

The program targets mid-sized projects, typically 1 MW to 20 MW, ground-mounted or on rooftops, within its service area. Where feasible, projects developed by PG&E would be built on land already owned by the utility or near its substations to minimize the cost and delays of interconnecting to the power grid.

Projects developed by independent parties would be offered a standard contract and pricing derived from the utility's own costs to streamline review of the applications.

The announcement elicited widespread industry support. Sue Kateley, Executive Director of California Solar Energy Industry Association, said, "We're pleased that PG&E is providing significant additional resources to promote the development of solar power in California. Its commitment to solar energy, and its thoughtful balance of utility and privately owned projects under this program will help ensure continued growth of this market in California, benefiting suppliers, workers and the environment. We look forward to working side-by-side with PG&E to make solar a leading renewable energy resource in the Golden State."

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Salinas Permitting Workshop Ushers in Best Practices

To help reduce barriers on renewable energy implementation and streamline permitting practices to more efficiently utilize public and industry resources, the County of Monterey recently held a Permitting Forum replicated after the successful model implemented by the City of San Jose last December.

With widespread industry support, the forum attracted a packed house to discuss subjects including zoning codes, permitting forms, process, fees and cost recovery mechanisms, legislative updates and relevant incentive programs including CSI. Subject matter experts in these fields led the audience, in addition to perspectives offered by the California Public Utilities Commission and PG&E.

The forum included discussions about challenges and attendees collaborated on potential solutions for both solar and wind technologies.

PG&E will be working with various jurisdictions to bring a similar forum to an area near you. Those interested in potential involvement should contact PG&E at 415.973.0305.

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Trigger Tracker Snapshot for March 24, 2009

California Solar Initiative
March 24, 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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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.

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