California Solar Initiative Newsletter June 2009                 

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Greetings ,

csi-nl-box-septSummer festivals feature more than face painting, food and music—they also provide a showcase for going solar, as these folks learned at last weekend’s Solar Sonoma Fair. Read on for important updates from the California Solar Initiative and a chance to submit photos of your solar system.

The next CSI Program Forum will be held Tuesday, July 28, at the California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE), 8690 Balboa Avenue, Suite 100, San Diego, CA 92123.
This free event will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

In This Issue

Upcoming Workshops and Trainings by Program Territory

csi-nl-box-sept 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.

Workshops in PG&E Service Territory

Workshops in SCE Service Territory

Workshops in SDG&E Service Territory by the California Center for Sustainable Energy

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CCSE Announces CSI Program Step Change

California Solar Initiative Program Administrator (PA) CCSE announces that Residential Solar PV rebates will soon transition from Step 4 to Step 5 in the program’s 10 Step design. This announcement comes after a surge of residential applications were submitted during the months of May and June, effectively driving the marketplace forward into Step 5. Applications that fall into Step 5 will be confirmed at a rebate rate of $1.55/ watt and $0.22/ kWh for EPBB and PBI projects respectively. CCSE reminds the industry that a project’s rebate rate is not determined until it is reviewed and ready for confirmation. For more information on CCSE’s Step change, please visit http://www.csi-trigger.com.

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Trigger Tracker Snapshot for June 23, 2009

California Solar Initiative
June 23, 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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SCE Achieves Milestones in CSI, NSHP Programs

Demand for solar energy continues to grow in Southern California, as SCE recently achieved milestones in both the CSI and NSHP programs.

Earlier this month, rebates for SCE’s residential customers decreased to Step 4 levels ($1.90 per Watt/EPBB; $0.26 per kWh/PBI) as more Southern California homeowners have “gone solar” by taking advantage of available incentives.

SCE also received its 100th NSHP customer application earlier this month, reports SCE’s NSHP Program Manager Gerry Castro. In total, SCE has received 77 NSHP applications for 2.8 MW with an additional 30 applications under review, corresponding to $6.6 million in total incentives reserved.

“Our NSHP applicants are reducing their project costs not only by receiving NSHP incentives, but also by participating in SCE’s California New Homes Program (CANHP), which qualifies them to receive additional incentives for their energy efficiency efforts,” Castro said.

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July 1 Deadline for Implementation of California Energy Commission's Senate Bill 1 Guidelines

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved the California Energy Commission's (CEC) Senate Bill (SB) 1 guidelines on May 18, setting into motion new CSI program requirements to take effect on July 1, 2009.

These requirements include, but are not limited to, a new energy efficiency disclosure agreement for all projects, a new field inspection and verification protocol, as well as a requirement that PV modules be tested and approved with the CEC's new testing requirements, per the SB 1 guidelines.

The most recent CSI Handbook, reflecting these new requirements, can be found on the Go Solar, California! Web site. For copies of the new forms, including the updated Reservation Request and Incentive Claim Forms, please contact your local Program Administrator (PA).

Please note that CSI Program Administrators (PAs) will allow new received applications to reference PV modules on the old list until June 30. These applications will be grandfathered in, and module additions of the same type will be allowed on or after July 1. However, module changes and new applications on or after July 1 must include PV modules on the new SB 1 compliant list. The PAs will use the date on which applications are received for purposes of grandfathering.

For your reference, the new SB 1 compliant module list can be found online. All modules that meet the program's eligibility requirements can be placed on this list. To learn how, visit the Go Solar, California! Web site.

Your local PA is available to answer any questions you may have and to ensure the industry has a clear understanding of how to meet these new requirements. Please contact them for more information.

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Itron Releases First CSI RD&D Grant Funding Solicitation for Comment

On June 8, 2009, the CPUC Energy Division and its Program Manager, energy consulting firm Itron, made the first Grant Funding Solicitation for the California Solar Initiative (CSI) Research, Demonstration and Deployment (RD&D) available for public review and comment, with comments due on June 18, 2009. The first solicitation focuses on integration of photovoltaics (PV) into the utility grid and targets the following activities:

1. Planning and modeling for high-penetration PV
2. Testing and development of hardware and software for high-penetration PV
3. Addressing the near-term integration of energy efficiency, demand response and storage along with PV.

The CSI RD&D program was allocated $50 million by the CPUC to fund grants targeting production technologies, grid integration and business development and deployment.

Program staff will review the comments and, under direction of the CPUC, may review the solicitation document. The final Grant Solicitation is expected to be released for proposals by the end of June, 2009.

Up to $15 million in funding is available through this solicitation. Any individual, business, public entity, nonprofit institution, university or national laboratory is eligible to apply for funding. Award amounts will range from $200,000 to up to $3 million, with a minimum of 50% match funding required for each project. The draft solicitation provides the information needed to complete an application package for CSI RD&D funding.

>> click here for the latest information about the CSI RD&D program.

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Solar Industry Examining Interconnection Methods, Standards and Metrics

SolarTech, a PV industry consortium focused on identifying and resolving barriers in the solar PV market, will offer a day-long Interconnection Symposium on July 30, 2009, at the San Jose Marriot. The Solar Tech Interconnection Symposium offers a unique opportunity to learn from and engage with industry subject matter experts on the complex challenges associated with the interconnection of solar energy systems.

Objectives of the symposium include leveraging the leadership and experience of a multidisciplinary audience to collaboratively identify factors that hinder the speed and consistency with which solar systems are grid-connected. Throughout the day, symposium panelists will propose methods to streamline transaction times, improve efficiencies and reduce project costs.

Join in the discussion and play a key role in shaping future best practices. Registration information and further details can be found here.

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Financing for Solar has Arrived: New Solar & Energy Efficiency Finance Programs Spark Interest Statewide

Since the passage of Assembly Bill 811 (AB 811) in July 2008—enabling local governments to create property tax finance districts to issue loans for energy efficiency and renewable energy systems—government officials, energy industry stakeholders and property owners have been eager to take advantage of the energy financing options enabled by it.

In response to the surge of interest about this financing option, the California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE) hosted a workshop on June 2 that introduced local elected officials and staff members to a statewide AB 811 financing option called CaliforniaFIRST.

AB 811 removes key financial barriers to the installation of onsite renewable energy and energy efficiency measures by allowing cities to provide low-cost, 20-year loans to eligible property owners seeking to install these technologies. The customer then pays more on the annual property tax bill to repay the loan. The loans are permanently fixed to real property, so that residents need not worry about their system’s break-even point and can pass the loan payments on to subsequent buyers of the property.

CaliforniaFIRST is a partnership between Renewable Funding, the financing organization that currently administers the BerkeleyFIRST program, and California Communities, a joint powers authority that will act on behalf of cities not interested in or able to administer stand-alone financing programs. CCSE will partner with the CaliforniaFIRST program team to assist participants through the application process and provide technical and general customer support.

The CaliforniaFIRST program is still under development; however, it is expected to include strong renewable energy and energy efficiency integration. The new emphasis will reflect recent policy and legislative movements to reduce consumers’ overall energy consumption by focusing on the two-step process of first installing energy efficiency and then installing appropriately sized solar systems.

Some communities in California are developing their own programs related to AB 811. The Association of Bay Area Governments and PG&E are jointly developing a San Francisco Bay Area regional solar and efficiency financing district. As currently conceptualized, the program would offer customers a one-stop shop to help them take advantage of the AB 811 property-based financing, as seamlessly and efficiently as possible. More details will be provided as the program design is developed.

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California Utilities Continue to Lead the Nation in Solar

SCE and PG&E lead the nation for integrating the most solar electricity into their energy mix as of the end of 2008, according to a survey by the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA).

PG&E, SCE and SDG&E were the three most solar integrated utilities in 2008, installing or interconnecting more than 133 MW of new solar capacity last year.

From a cumulative standpoint, SCE and PG&E remain the two most solar integrated utilities in the nation with the most overall solar capacity.

When it comes to solar on the customer side of the meter, PG&E and SCE ranked number one and number two, respectively, in 2008. On the utility side of the meter, PG&E and SCE placed in the top two for 2008, with PG&E assuming the number one spot and SCE the number two spot. SCE placed first and PG&E placed second cumulatively for the customer side of the meter, while SCE ranked first and PG&E third cumulatively for the utility side of the meter.

>> click here to view the full report, which includes the rankings.

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10,000th CSI Customer Milestone Reached in PG&E Service Territory

Despite current challenging economic conditions, interest in solar remains bright in PG&E's service territory, or at least that appears to be the case, as indicated by CSI application numbers.

In fact, PG&E recently celebrated reaching a milestone of 10,000 completed CSI projects, demonstrating increased solar interest in Northern and Central California and signifying a huge step toward a self-sustaining solar market.

Since January 1, 2007, the California Solar Initiative has helped finance an estimated 17,000 completed solar projects throughout the state. In PG&E’s territory alone, the 10,000 completed CSI applications have received approximately $250 million in incentives, representing more than 100 MW in capacity and collectively offsetting close to 25,000 tons of harmful CO2 emissions.

"We are proud of the steps we've taken to improve the CSI application process and increase the adoption of solar in our service territory,” said Chuck Hornbrook, PG&E's senior manager in the Solar and Customer Generation group. “California has always been the seedbed of forward-thinking leadership and policies. Successes such as these remind us that the CSI program is very much an example of that leadership. We're proud to be administering such a successful program to facilitate our customers' efforts in going solar."

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MWD Begins Generating Solar Power

MWD's 1 MW Skinner Facility

With a literal flip of a switch, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) recently activated a 10-acre field of solar panels at its Robert A. Skinner Water Treatment Plant in the Temecula Valley of southwestern Riverside County.

The MWD expects the 1 megawatt (MW) solar installation to generate about 2.4 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of clean, renewable energy a year. That’s nearly 25 percent of the power used by the plant. MWD said it expects the $10 million solar generating facility to pay for itself in six to eight years or sooner and that it will receive more than $5 million in rebates through the CSI program.

The solar-produced energy will be used directly at the plant helping to offset nearly one million tons of carbon emissions per year. Last year, the plant consumed about 10.5 million kWh of electricity at a cost of nearly $1.2 million, according to the MWD.

Skinner’s solar collection field features 462 sun-tracking stations, each supporting 10 230-Watt panels. Each station of panels, weighing about 40 pounds apiece, will generate about 5,000 kWh of electricity a year. The MWD said the tracking system is expected to produce 25 percent more power than fixed panels.

MWD said the Skinner plant is part of a proposed strategic power plan that envisions MWD having 10 MW of solar power installed throughout its six-county service area over the next five years.

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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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