California Solar Initiative Newsletter - September 2009

Solar Toolbox

CSI Handbook



CSI Green Home Makeover

CSI NSHP Affordable Developer Toolkit

CSI Annual Program Assessment

CSI Program Administrators

California Center for Sustainable Energy

Pacific Gas and Electric Company

Southern California Edison

California Public Utilities Commission 

Go Solar, California! Web site

Greetings ,

csi-nl-box-augJoin us in October to celebrate Solar Energy Month. With 500 megawatts of solar on more than 50,000 sites, California certainly has something to celebrate. We’ve shown the nation that solar is up to the task of delivering clean, reliable power to homes and businesses, while fueling the economy and creating thousands of jobs. Our featured photo shows more than 250 Grid Alternatives volunteers, who installed 16 solar electric systems in one day in East Oakland during their recent "Solarthon." Learn how you can get involved and go solar in your community during Solar Energy Month!

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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October 2009 is Solar Energy Month

To celebrate California’s huge successes in solar energy and to help more home and business owners go solar, the CSI Program has proclaimed October 2009 as Solar Energy Month. While solar systems already provide clean, reliable energy at more than 50,000 locations in California, the goal of Solar Energy Month is to show more people how to take advantage of the benefits of going solar today.

Even with all the buzz about solar in the media, many consumers don’t really know where to start. To point people in the right direction, we’re encouraging Californians—from residents to business owners—to take a free solar class or attend a solar event at one of the many locations statewide. Check the Community Solar Calendar for a comprehensive list of CSI trainings and other solar activities, as well as an opportunity to submit details of solar-related events in your area.

Already installed solar? Consider becoming a Solar Ambassador, the neighborhood go-to person for solar questions. Click here for more ideas on how you can go solar or promote solar in your area.

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Join the National Solar Tour in California

Saturday, Oct. 3, marks the 14th year for the American Solar Energy Society’s National Solar Tours, with California hosting more than 20 regional tours showcasing homes and businesses that have gone solar. Each tour is a bit different; some are expert guided, with participants boarding busses that take them on a planned route with various hosts ready to welcome guests and share their solar stories. Others are self-guided, and participants are provided maps by the local organizers that explain each site and provide follow-up resources. Either way, participants gain knowledge of how actual solar systems provide real and lasting benefits, while having fun and meeting other solar enthusiasts.

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Thinking Solar? Take a Class!

For consumers and professionals alike, the burgeoning new world of solar brings both curiosity and questions: consumers want to understand the benefits and financial payback of their systems, and professionals seek opportunities to develop their expertise and attract new customers. To provide answers to these and other questions about going solar, the CSI Program Administrators offer free solar classes each month that cover a wide range of topics, from solar basics for homeowners to specialized training for solar contractors. Classes take place in various locations and at different times of the week to provide as many learning opportunities as possible. Check the Community Solar Calendar for a class that’s right for you and make the most of this great time to go solar.

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Call for Solar System Data

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is requesting performance data from customers on solar systems that were subsidized by rebates from the State of California-authorized rebate programs, including the California Solar Initiative (CSI), the Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP), the Emerging Renewables Program (ERP) and the Rebuild a Greener San Diego Solar Program. If you have a solar system on your home or commercial building that received any of these rebates, the CPUC wants to hear from you.

An effective CSI Program is important for the future success of the solar industry. To successfully gauge the CSI program’s effectiveness, the CPUC will need performance data information from both large and small systems. The CPUC is requesting your assistance in collecting solar system performance data for systems that you have installed and for which you collect performance data. The collected solar system performance data will be used to understand:

  • Whether the CSI Program is meeting its objective of optimizing solar system performance with incentives that encourage optimal system performance.
  • The extent to which solar customers are contributing to electricity peak load reduction. (Answering this question requires 15-minute or hourly data as opposed to daily, monthly or annual production data.)
  • The extent to which solar customers are contributing to greenhouse gas reductions.
  • How solar system performance varies in different geographical regions.
  • The effect of solar customers on California’s electricity grid.
  • The cumulative impact of solar projects installed in PG&E, SDG&E and SCE territories.

To ensure the privacy and confidentiality of specific confidential customer and contractor data, all submissions of performance data will be aggregated for reports.

The CPUC and CSI Program Administrators thank you in advance for your consideration and valuable contribution to the program. For detailed information about submitting solar performance data, click here.

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Trigger Tracker Snapshot for September 30, 2009


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.

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Visit the Go Solar, California! Team at West Coast Green & Solar Power International

The Go Solar, California! team is returning to the expo floor at both West Coast Green in San Francisco on Oct. 1-3 and Solar Power International, the largest solar conference and expo in the United States, in Anaheim on Oct. 27-29.

West Coast Green is the largest conference on green innovation for the built environment and will feature 125 speakers, 80 networking sessions and 300 exhibits. Among the exhibitors is the Go Solar, California! team, ready to answer your questions about the California Solar Initiative and New Solar Homes Partnership rebate programs. Be sure to visit us at booth #101.

Solar Power International, anticipated to draw the largest cross-section of solar industry representatives in the history of the conference this year, features workshops and sessions on finance, policy, manufacturing and installation on both the customer-side and the utility-side of the meter. This is America’s largest solar event and should not be missed. The expo floor, featuring more than 800 exhibitors, will be open to the public at no charge on Wednesday, Oct. 28. Please stop by the Go Solar, California! booth (No. 3278) to pick up consumer materials and your FREE 2010 wall calendar.

There is still time to register for these events. For more information, visit www.westcoastgreen.com or www.solarpowerinternational.com.

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SolarTech Workforce Symposium Explores Solar Workforce Trends & Opportunities

On Oct. 1, SolarTech, an industry group working to reduce barriers to solar adoption, is holding a Workforce Symposium in Cupertino, California. The goal of the symposium is to bring together industry leaders, educators and training organization representatives to collaboratively identify future workforce development needs and opportunities for the solar industry.

The symposium will be modeled after SolarTech’s successful Solar Summit last May, with an interactive format featuring representatives spanning the industry focused on identifying priorities for future action. For more details or to register, visit www.solartech.org.

Additionally, the Go Solar, California! Web site has various links and resources related to green workforce trends and opportunities, including a recent workforce development survey by the Vote Solar Initiative, as well as a Green Jobs Guidebook by the Environmental Defense Fund.

For more information, visit the Solar Energy Month Web page at www.cpuc.ca.gov/PUC/energy/Solar/solarmonth.htm

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CPUC and Itron Release Draft Second CSI RD&D Grant Solicitation for Public Comment

In late September 2009, the CPUC Energy Division and Itron, Inc. released the draft second Grant Solicitation for the California Solar Initiative (CSI) Research, Development, Demonstration and Deployment (RDD&D) Program for public review and comment. The second solicitation will focus on PV production technologies and innovative business models.

The deadline for submitting comments is Oct. 12, 2009. Interested parties are required to submit their comments using an online submission form on the CSI RD&D Web site. Program staff will review the comments and, under direction of the CPUC, may revise the solicitation document. The final second Grant Solicitation is expected to be released in early November 2009.

Up to $15 million in funding will be available through this solicitation. Any individual, business, organization, academic institution, nonprofit, national laboratory or other entity is eligible to apply for funding. Award amounts will range from $200,000 to a maximum of $3 million, and a minimum of 25 percent match-funding will be required for each project.

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. Award announcements for the first grant solicitation, which focused on grid integration, are expected in December 2009.

For the latest information about the CSI RD&D program, please visit http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/PUC/energy/Solar/rdd.htm and http://www.CalSolarResearch.ca.gov

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Municipal Tool Kit Encourages Cities to Go Solar

The California Energy Commission’s New Solar Homes Partnership (NSHP) is bolstering its support to local governments with the recently released NSHP Municipal Tool Kit, which provides local jurisdictions with ideas and strategies that encourage the construction of new, energy-efficient solar homes in cities and towns throughout California.

The NSHP Municipal Tool Kit provides tailored strategies to help local governments support solar developments in their region. Some of these strategies include: amending general plans, incentivizing energy efficiency measures and solar installations and educating local home builders about existing solar incentives. Resources provided in the tool kit include background information on the NSHP, supporting materials on the benefits of combining energy efficiency features with solar energy, suggested language for builder outreach materials, sample model ordinances and sample press materials.

The tool kit is available online and will be distributed to local planners, building and safety officials, city managers, city attorneys and elected officials. For more information on the NSHP Municipal Tool Kit, or to download a copy, visit www.GoSolarCalifornia.ca.gov.

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Call for Photos of CSI-Funded Solar Systems

Calling all installers and solar system owners! 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 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 | © 2009 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