California Solar Initiative Newsletter - October 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

Highlighting record-breaking numbers of solar rebate applications, a quarter-gigawatt of solar installed under the program and progress in all program areas, the CPUC issued the third quarter California Solar Initiative Staff Progress Report. The report also features new analysis showing small solar system prices declined nine percent and large system prices declined by 13 percent since the same quarter last year. Read on for more CSI solar news highlights including incentive changes for San Diego residents and the upcoming crossover to a paperless application process.

Announcement: CSI Program Forum 10/28 Free Public Night
The next CSI Program Forum will be held Wednesday, October 28, at the Anaheim Convention Center, Room 303 (Third floor).
This free event will take place from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Notes from this CSI Public Forum will be posted to the Go Solar, California! Web site.

In This Issue

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CCSE Moves Into Residential Step 6 Solar Incentive Levels

As of Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2009, CCSE received enough CSI applications to account for the Residential Step 5 MW allotment, officially moving the San Diego region into Step 6 ($1.10/W) for residential projects.

Because CCSE received reservations for more kWs than were available on Oct. 14, a lottery will be held to determine which projects will receive Step 5 funding. Applicants and homeowners will be notified of a particular project's incentive level once the project has been confirmed.

In the two days prior to Oct. 14, CCSE received 119 projects worth a total of 0.661 MW.

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Trigger Tracker Snapshot


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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CPUC Issues 3rd Quarter CSI Staff Progress Report

The CPUC issued the third quarter CSI Staff Progress Report highlighting record-breaking solar rebate applications and progress in all program areas, including solar water heating and affordable housing. With charts detailing high-level program statistics, the report features an introduction to the comprehensive program data available for public download on the program’s latest Web site, California Solar Statistics.

Program highlights from the third quarter include the following:

  • Installed CSI projects now total 257 MW, with another 141 MW of solar projects pending.
  • August was a record-breaking month for rebate applications in the residential sector, with 2,124 applications received totaling 10.9 MW.
  • Single-family Affordable Solar Homes applications remain steady, and more residences were identified as potentially program-eligible. Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing applications are robust, with 139 applications totaling 7.13 MW of solar power within the program’s first year.
  • The general market program anticipates a paperless application process, allowing users to upload forms and other documents electronically, by January 2010.
  • Small solar system prices declined nine percent and large system prices declined by 13 percent since the same quarter last year.
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CPUC Issues New RFP for Evaluation of SASH and MASH Programs

The CPUC has issued an RFP for a comprehensive evaluation of the SASH and MASH programs. The evaluation will cover program years 2009 and 2010 and will include impact evaluation, process evaluation, cost-benefit evaluation and various other studies to assess the performance of the incentives for solar installations on low-income and affordable housing. Final bids are due Nov. 6, 2009. The RFP is available online on the CPUC CSI Evaluation home page.

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Visit the PAs at Solar Power International

Solar Power International (SPI) is quickly approaching, and the Go Solar, California! team is excited to return to the expo floor at this event, the largest solar conference and expo in the United States. Taking place in Anaheim on Oct. 27-29, SPI is anticipated to draw the largest cross section of solar industry representatives in the history of the conference, featuring workshops and sessions on finance, policy, manufacturing and installation on both the customer-side and the utility-side of the meter.

The expo floor, featuring more than 800 exhibitors, will be open to the public for free at Open to the Public Night 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.

Don't miss the CSI Program Forum on Wednesday, October 28, at the Anaheim Convention Center, room 303 on the third floor. The free event will take place from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
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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. This month, more than 1,000 people have attended a free solar class or event, and there are still many classes, webinars, conferences and activities planned. 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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Feature: How to Use the California Solar Statistics to Support Solar Adoption

California Solar Statistics (www.CaliforniaSolarStatistics.ca.gov) is a public Web site managed by the CSI Program that provides complete data on the California Solar Initiative. Users can obtain both detailed program data in Excel spreadsheets and high-level information in the form of charts and graphs. The data is cleaned and filtered, and a spreadsheet of the filtered data is made available and updated on each Wednesday.

The Web site consists of three main features:

Charts and Figures
A drop-down menu allows users to view a range of data in either chart or graphic format. Data is specified according to date, Program Administrator territory, customer class and both installed and pending projects. Each data set has notes and a description, as well as a Resources tab that links to raw data files. This tool is particularly useful for looking at demand for solar and participation in the program over time and comparing program participation among different territories and customer classes. The downloadable tables allow users to easily re-create the charts for analysis and presentations.

Customized Search Function
The customized search function helps users find specific information about the CSI program that is not captured in the high-level charts. The search feature is especially useful for finding data specific to regions, customer sectors, numbers of applications, installations, pending solar projects, solar contractors and sellers, equipment and incentives to help guide solar analysis and decision making. As with the chart feature, search results can be exported to Excel for further analysis.

Raw Program Data
California Solar Statistics lists many data sets in ready-made format on the main dashboard, but users can also access comprehensive data from the CSI Application Database as an HTML file or Excel spreadsheet. As with the charts and graphs, this data has been cleaned and filtered and is refreshed weekly on Wednesdays.

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CSI or CSI? PAs, Industry Stand Tough on Spate of Solar Crimes

For some unlucky solar customers, the California Solar Initiative (CSI) recently bore an unpleasant resemblance to the TV show “CSI,” as crime scene investigators arrested solar panel thieves and would-be “contractors” accused of deceiving customers out of down payments on bogus systems.

In March 2008, customers of Bay Solar in Pacifica went public with their complaints that large deposits were taken, but their solar projects were never installed – and their deposits were never returned. In March 2009, the Contractors State License Board issued a Red Alert on American Sun Solar Corporation and was looking for the owner, whose license was revoked in 2002, but nevertheless began selling solar in the spring of 2008. In June, authorities arrested the owner of San Jose-based Beohana Solar Corporation on theft and contractor fraud charges for allegedly failing to install solar-energy systems or return deposits and for falsely claiming to be a licensed contractor. Now, in September, the Napa County Sheriff’s Department arrested three men when their attempt to burglarize a winery’s solar system triggered an alarm. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, solar customers are protecting their investments with security systems specially designed for solar panels, including alarms, devices to lock the panels to roofs and specialty labels that burn an identifying bar code into every panel.

CSI Program Administrators responded to fraudulent practices by freezing all reservations submitted by false contractors and by identifying unlicensed contractors to remove from the CSI and CEC lists.

According to Sue Kateley, executive director of solar trade association CalSEIA, no contractor should ever ask for more than 10% or $1,000 as a down payment; if contractors ask for more, Kateley urges consumers to refer to contractor licensing laws. Program Administrators also advise interested solar customers to obtain and compare at least three bids for a system, and check the California Contractor’s State Licensing Board to determine a contractor’s legitimacy.

Authorities at the Napa County Sheriff’s Department identified a list of precautions system owners can take to protect their property:

1. Have a map of the panels with their serial numbers, so you can identify stolen property.
2. Use locking bolts; they do slow down the thieves.
3. Install an alarm system, either one that tells the world with noise and lights or a silent alarm to tip off the sheriffs.
4. If you suspect anything, call the sheriff. Don't enter the scene, which could compromise evidence, and don't mess with the thieves, who could be dangerous.
5. Note suspicious vehicles and activities and take down license numbers of the vehicles; warn your neighbors and workers to do the same.

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First CSI RD&D Public Forum Scheduled; Draft Second CSI RD&D Grant Solicitation Issued for Public Comment

The first CSI RD&D Program Strategy Workshop will be held on Nov. 18 from 1:30 to 3:30 at PG&E's Pacific Energy Center in San Francisco. In addition, there will be a pre-bid webinar held from 10:00 am to noon, to review the second solicitation. For more details, please visit www.pge.com/csiwhatsnew.

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 (RD&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 was Oct. 12, 2009. Program staff is now reviewing 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% 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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Program Administrators Anticipate "Paperless" Application Process Beginning 2010

As part of the Program Administrators' ongoing efforts to streamline processes and increase consistency in the California Solar Initiative application process, the PAs are encouraging all CSI applicants to use PowerClerk only, beginning early 2010. The "paperless" process means that application documents can be submitted in electronic format rather than via the U.S. Postal Service.

As part of this shift, applicants can expect quicker application turnaround times and an easy one-stop location for all CSI forms. Additionally, new PowerClerk users will enjoy upgraded features such as future milestone documents that populate from stored data as well as an online PDF document submittal feature.

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PG&E and Solar America Cities Coordinate Photovoltaic Permitting Forums

PG&E is taking action to facilitate solutions to the permitting process for photovoltaic systems. With the support and partnership of two of the Department of Energy's Solar America Cities, who have committed to accelerating the adoption of solar at the local level, PG&E is hosting permitting forums to discuss the need to advance solutions on permitting processes with relevant stakeholders.

With the industry increasingly recognizing the need to establish consistency and standardization across jurisdictions, these forums will provide an opportunity to discuss issues including harmonizing codes and standards with a goal of driving down permitting costs and processing times. Speakers will provide an update on recent progress as well as engage with audience members to better understand existing permitting challenges.

These forums are free of charge. To learn more, please contact Lisa Shell at 415-973-0305 or L1SB@pge.com.

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PG&E Launches 4th Quarter Solar Webinar Schedule

PG&E's fourth quarter webinar schedule debuted recently, providing a varied and robust series of online classes for anyone interested in learning more about the California Solar Initiative and solar technology in general. Topics include: Solar for the Entrepreneur, Solar Financing, Solar and Energy Efficiency, New Construction Solar, Solar for Low-Income Customers and many more. All classes are free of charge and require no advance registration.

To learn more, please visit www.pge.com/solarclasses.

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Solar Energy Week in San Diego Kicks Off Solar Energy Month

Alyson Doria Photography
Participants on CCSE's 10th Annual Solar Homes Tour, Oct. 3, 2009.

CCSE hosted Solar Energy Week with events celebrating San Diego as California’s No. 1 solar city and kicking-off California’s Solar Energy Month.

Activities began with Family Solar Day at Liberty Station. Hundreds of San Diegans checked out the 30+ exhibitors, marveled at solar-cooked foods and enjoyed the girl rock band, Pink Army. Rides on solar-powered mini-cars and face painting were big hits with kids.

More than 350 attendees attended the San Diego Solar Conference, featuring keynote speakers San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob and CCSE director of programs, Andrew McAllister. Sessions ranged from legislative and workforce development to new solar technologies and residential solar financing.

Two buses carried some 75 “tourists” on the Commercial Solar Tour, offering a unique opportunity to see inside a solar PV manufacturing plant at Siliken Renewable Energies and visit two large-scale rooftop solar installations at the Padre Dam Municipal Water District and Point Loma Nazarene University.

More than 50 residents throughout the county opened their homes during the Solar Homes Tour, held on Saturday, Oct. 3. San Diego's solar homeowners and installers spoke about their experiences in going solar, system performance and energy savings. CCSE salutes the homeowners who served as Solar Ambassadors.

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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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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

Submit your CSI-funded solar system photos here.

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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