California Solar Initiative Newsletter July 2009                 

CSI Toolbox


CSI Annual Program Assessment

CSI Handbook

CSI NSHP Affordable Developer Toolkit

CSI Green Home Makeover


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

Greetings ,

csi-nl-box-septDid you know California currently boasts 97 megawatts of new residential rooftop solar systems? According to the California Solar Initiative Annual Program Assessment issued last month by the CPUC, more than 20,000 of our neighbors have made the decision to put solar on their homes—like the Smiths in Malibu, whose 4kW system (left) was installed last year by Solartronics, Inc. Want to learn more about the CSI Program? Join the CSI Program Forum LIVE today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., where Program Administrators will highlight these and other statistics from the Annual Program Assessment.


CSI Program Forum

The next CSI Program Forum will be held Tuesday, July 28, at the California Center for Sustainable Energy at 8690 Balboa Ave., Suite 100, San Diego, CA. This free event will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The CSI Public Forum will be available via Webinar.

Toll-free call-in number: 866-469-3239
Meeting Number: 579 145 478
Meeting Password: csipublicforum

1 Click here
2. Enter your name and email address.
3. Enter the meeting password: csipublicforum
4. Click "Join Now".
July CSI Program Handbook Release

The California Solar Initiative Program (CSI) released the July CSI Program Handbook, which includes all modifications included in the May 2009 Handbook, plus a complete editorial revision of the entire handbook in an effort to further streamline the CSI application process. The new CSI Program Handbook is available here. It is also available on the Go Solar, California! Web site.

Please review the handbook for the revised requirements and guidelines.

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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CPUC Proposes Statewide CSI Thermal Program to Promote Solar Water Heating and Other Technologies

On July 15, 2009, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) Energy Division issued a Staff Proposal for a $350 million statewide solar water heating program-the CSI Thermal Program- following the results of the Solar Water Heating (SWH) Pilot Program in San Diego. If approved by the CPUC, the proposed CSI-Thermal Program, targeted to roll out on Jan. 1, 2010, will seek to significantly increase the size of the solar water heating market in California by increasing the adoption rate of SWH technologies.

The proposal recommends that the CPUC move forward in designing and implementing the $250 million SWH Incentive Program for natural gas-displacing systems authorized under AB 1470, as well as allow electric-displacing systems to qualify for incentives under the $100.8 million CSI non-PV electric displacing funds.

There are six months left to accept applications to the Solar Water Heating Pilot Program in San Diego and, as of mid-July, the program has received 237 applications. Pilot Program Administrator CCSE continues to move the market forward with comprehensive consumer education and will use the lessons learned from the pilot program to inform the new CSI Thermal Program regarding market barriers to SWH and areas of potential development, such as the need for installer and sales training, streamlined permitting processes and greater customer awareness of solar water heating benefits.

>> click here to see the proposal

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Trigger Tracker Snapshot for July 28, 2009

California Solar Initiative
July 28, 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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Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing Program Update — Virtual Net Metering and Grant-Style Incentives

In only six months, the CSI Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing (MASH) program has made significant progress, finalizing Track 2 incentives and the Virtual Net Metering (VNM) tariff —both core elements of the incentive program.

The Track 2 incentive process allows program applicants to compete for incentives higher than Track 1 amounts, which are $3.30/watt and $4.00/watt for common load and tenant load, respectively. If applicants can demonstrate "significant tenant benefit," Track 2 applicants can qualify for additional rebates covering up to 100% of project costs. Grant application guidelines, scoring criteria, submission deadlines and all MASH forms are located on the Program Administrators’ Web sites.

A grant proposal package must include completed MASH Track 1 Reservation Request documents, a grant proposal containing all of the information requested in each of the sections and a signed grant proposal form.

MASH-eligible properties are also eligible for Virtual Net Metering (VNM), a new tariff designed to reduce solar costs on individually metered buildings by enabling energy credits from one system to be allocated across multiple electric service accounts at one building. For more information, visit your local utility’s Web site or the MASH page at Go Solar, California!

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Senate Bill 1 Guideline Implementation Update

As of July 1, 2009, CSI applicants must follow the revised CSI Program Handbook, that has been updated to reflect program changes to comply with the Energy Commission's Guidelines for California's Solar Electric Incentive Programs Pursuant to Senate Bill 1 (SB 1 Guidelines). CSI Program changes include changes to PV module testing requirements, Energy-Efficiency Disclosure form, Field Verification form and Retro-Commissioning (if applicable).

However, CSI customers, whose Reservation Request Forms were received prior to July 1, 2009, may follow prior program eligibility requirements when submitting their Incentive Claim Form. For these applications, none of the other new program changes made pursuant to the SB 1 Guidelines are required, including the revised Energy Efficiency Disclosure Form, Field Verification Form, and Retro-commissioning (if applicable).

There are several resources available to assist the industry with the program changes stemming from the July CSI Program Handbook update. Please check your local Program Administrator's Web site to find the latest information, including all required forms and updated processes.

>> click here to see information from PG&E's June webinars about CSI Program Handbook changes to comply with the revised the SB 1 Guidelines.

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New 3 Percent Loans for Energy Efficiency and Energy Generation Projects

The California Energy Commission announced that its Energy Efficiency Financing Program will distribute up to $24 million in loan funds for energy cost-saving projects at 3 percent interest. Loan applications are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. The new rate applies to loans made on or after July 9, 2009 and ends when a new notice is issued. The 3 percent interest rate will not be applied retroactively to existing loans.

Cities, counties, special districts, public schools, colleges and universities, public care institutions and public hospitals are eligible to apply. Nonprofit entities such as schools, hospitals and public care facilities are not eligible for these funds.

>> click here for more information.

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CCSE Joins San Diego Mayor Sanders to Celebrate City’s New Solar Map

Andrew McAllister, director of programs for the California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE) joined San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, Environment California Clean Energy Advocate Bernadette Del Chiaro, CH2M Hill Project Manager Kevin Murphy, CleanTECH San Diego President Lisa Bicker and Sullivan Solar Power President Daniel Sullivan at the city’s Environmental Services Division in Kearny Mesa to announce the launch of a free, interactive solar mapping Web site for San Diego County.

The new San Diego Solar Map enables users to view the locations of thousands of solar power and solar water heating systems installed in San Diego and will ultimately allow users to estimate the potential size and cost of solar installations on their home prior to purchase. The San Diego Solar Map is a cooperative project of the City of San Diego, CH2M Hill and CCSE with funding from the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Solar America Cities program and the California Solar Initiative (CSI).

The CH2M Hill team worked collaboratively with CCSE’s CSI team in development of the project championing tasks such as the graphic and user interface, the back-end programming required to integrate solar installation information into the Google Map platform and the interactive features of the site, including the blog and forum platform. CH2M Hill also came up with ideas for many of the sites’ features, including the integration of real time monitoring data and the use of system photos. CCSE compiled the list of residential and commercial installations from rebate program databases, provided feedback and recommendations on the design and functionality of the site to best suit consumer needs and developed the residential photovoltaic system analysis tool still in production. Once this tool is complete, CH2M Hill will program the code to make this application Web-based.

Solar mapping tools provide key information about the performance and economics of solar energy using specific attributes of a given location. Using Google Maps and satellite imagery, users view solar locations from above and are able to click on the various mapped properties for information about the installation. The San Diego Solar Map shows San Diego’s overall solar energy potential, maps exactly where solar is currently deployed and specifies the size of each system. People interested in going solar can see the other solar systems installed in their area, and solar contractors can show their customers details of their roof and what to expect from a system at a specific location.

Some functions of the solar map are still in development, but when the San Diego Solar Map is completed, users will be able to estimate the solar power potential for any home, including annual system output and associated financial performance information. The Web site provides comprehensive online resources for estimating the installation cost as well as finding a solar contractor and obtaining information on financing options, tax incentives, rebate programs and other topics.

Similar maps are being developed throughout California and other cities worldwide. Check out the Web site at http://www.sd.solarmap.org.

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CPUC Approves SCE’s Rooftop Solar Program

In June the CPUC approved SCE’s plan for the largest U.S. installation of advanced solar panels on otherwise unused large commercial rooftops across Southern California.

During the next five years SCE will install, own and operate 250 megawatts (MW) of solar generating capacity. The utility also will conduct competitive solicitations offering long-term power contracts to independent solar power providers, who will install an additional 250 MW, bringing the total generating capacity of the project to 500 MW — the largest photovoltaic (PV) program ever undertaken.

“This innovative solar rooftop project is part of Edison International’s 25-year commitment to developing cleaner, renewable and alternative energy sources for our customers,” said Theodore F. Craver Jr., Edison International chairman and CEO. “The program will create hundreds of neighborhood solar power plants, strengthen local grid reliability and produce hundreds of new green jobs to bolster Southern California’s economic recovery.”

During the fall of 2008, SCE completed the first of what eventually will be about 150 sites making up this program, a 600,000-square-foot Fontana, Calif., distribution warehouse roof. The rooftop now holds 33,700 advanced thin-film solar panels with a generating capacity of 2.4 MW of DC power — the largest single rooftop solar photovoltaic array in the nation. SCE has begun construction of its second installation atop a 458,000-square-foot industrial building in Chino, Calif. First Solar of Tempe, Ariz., was the winning bidder to supply panels for these first two installations.

Based on the CPUC’s recent regulatory approval, competitive solicitations will take place for the remaining roof leases and equipment needed for the 250 MW of facilities SCE will install and operate. A limited number of ground-mounted installations also will be considered as part of SCE’s solar program. Competitive solicitations will also take place for 250 MW of long-term power contracts that SCE will offer to independent power providers who construct similar solar installations. The CPUC is hosting a workshop on July 31st to discuss the implementation details for the SCE competitive solicitations.

SCE’s rooftop PV program will provide a new generation source to areas where customer demand is rising. The solar modules can be connected directly and quickly to the nearest neighborhood circuit while major new renewable energy transmission lines are being built. Additionally, the output of solar panels generally matches peak customer demand — lower in the morning and evening, higher in the afternoon. This project will allow SCE grid engineers to study the electrical effects of a high penetration of photovoltaic on distribution circuits, and the information gained will be shared with the industry.

SCE anticipates that the solar power project will create as many as 800 new green jobs in Southern California in the solar industry. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, one of SCE’s project partners, is supporting the project through the expansion of its solar installation apprentice training program.

>> click here to see the CPUC Decision approving the SCE Program.

>> click here to see the CPUC Press Release.

>> click here to view the SCE Advice Letter filing 2364-E that details the implementation of their competitive solicitation process for their PV program. The Advice Letter will be the subject of a workshop at the CPUC on July 31st.

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7,000 CSI Applications Sets New Record for Solar Growth in SCE Territory

Solar adoption in Southern California continues to be robust, and SCE recently reported that it has now processed over 7,000 CSI applications—an increase of 16 percent since the Program Administrator’s second quarter update.

Solar growth in SCE’s territory was fueled by a record 1,311 new applications totaling 24.5 MW in the second quarter — including 600 in May— totaling $56.9 million worth of incentives. This surpassed the previous record of 949 applications in the third quarter of 2008.

“We’re pleased to see such healthy demand for solar, especially in the residential market,” said Gary Barsley, manager of SCE’s Customer Solar Group. “I’m particularly proud of our application processing team and the improvements we’ve made that allow us to handle this volume.”

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IREC Begins 16th Annual Search for Innovative Renewable Energy Projects

Each year, the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) recognizes individuals and organizations that have implemented innovative projects during the year that promote and accelerate the adoption of renewable energy technologies with the IREC Innovation Award.

Eligible programs or activities for the 2009 energy project search include: education, energy policy, legislation, regulatory actions, demonstration projects, research and development or financial incentives. Projects must have been completed during 2008. Applications are due by close of business on Thursday, July 30, 2009. The awards will be handed out during the IREC Annual Meeting, set for Oct. 26, 2009, in Anaheim, Calif. Winners will be notified prior to the event.

For more information and to submit applications, contact Jennifer Szaro at jszaro@ouc.com. You can download the application for IREC's 2009 Innovation Awards by visiting the Web site.

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PowerClerk Improvements to Launch Later This Summer

As part of the CSI Program Administrators (PAs) ongoing effort to streamline the CSI application process and the operations of CSI program tools, PowerClerk will be debuting two features to facilitate quick application turnaround times: "Data Upload" and "Document Attachment."

The Data Upload feature will enable program applicants to upload their data directly into PowerClerk and is intended for use by applicants who use non-PowerClerk software to generate CSI Reservation Request Forms (RRFs).

"The Data Upload feature will push the bar even higher in regards to PG&E's review of RRFs by eliminating the need for our Project Managers to re-enter any information into PowerClerk,” said Rob Chan, senior project manager on PG&E’s CSI team. “We'll be essentially removing the risk of clerical errors, which can slow down our review process. The Document Attachment feature will allow program applicants to digitally submit applications without having to mail in a single sheet of paper. Applicants will be able to attach all required CSI application documents as PDF files, enabling the entire application to be submitted via PowerClerk.

The benefits of Document Attachment for applicants include reducing the postage and labor costs required to prepare and mail application hard copies. Applicants can also enjoy expedited review times thanks to PA time savings captured by eliminating the need to open and prepare applications that would have otherwise been received via mail.

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Sacramento-Area Builders Promote NSHP Communities with Weekend Walk Thru

New Solar Homes Partnership (NSHP) builders are getting a boost attracting potential home buyers over the hot summer months through a series of “Weekend Walk Thru” events, which are part of a media partnership with Clear Channel.

Weekend Walk Thru events promote NSHP communities through a week of radio and online promotion before and after the event and drive consumers to visit new solar home communities to learn about the unique features and benefits of owning a new solar home. Photos, links and information about each participating community are also provided on unique Web pages provided through Clear Channel.

Currently available in the Sacramento market, the Weekend Walk Thru program is providing radio spots on six different stations to Christopherson Homes for the Wisteria at Whitney Ranch community and Standard Pacific for the Caspian Run community. The Weekend Walk Thru is just one of many marketing resources available to builders and developers involved in the NSHP. Weekend Walk Thru announcements can be heard between now and July 26 on KFBK, KSTE, KGBY and KHYL.

>> click here for more information on the Weekend Walk Thru promotion.

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NSHP Launches Builder Advertising Tool Kit to Support Solar Marketing Efforts

The New Solar Homes Partnership (NSHP) recently released the New Home Builder Advertising Tool Kit — available on the Go Solar, California! Web site — to help developers and PV installers drive potential home buyers to their solar communities.

The tool kit is tailored for marketing teams to use as a primary or supplemental tool to market their NSHP energy-efficient solar home communities. The downloadable kit provides four pre-designed advertising concepts and includes newspaper ads, Internet banner ads, micro-website home pages, billboard designs and more.

The tool kit provides builders and developers with a library of turnkey advertising tools that can be easily customized to meet the needs of both the builder and different consumer audiences. Not only does the tool kit provide builders with cost-efficient resources to market to potential home buyers, but also it helps educate Californians on the benefits of ”going solar.”

>> click here for more information on the New Home Builder Advertising Tool Kit or to download the complete guide.

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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