California Solar Initiative Newsletter - November 2009

Solar Toolbox

CSI Handbook



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

California’s solar industry has much to be thankful for in 2009. The Golden State’s 50,000+ solar customers have installed 500 megawatts of solar, enough to replace an entire power plant. Program Administrators wish to thank all of you for carrying the solar message! Happy Thanksgiving . . . Go Solar, California!

In This Issue

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ANNOUNCEMENT: CCSE Moving to Nonresidential Step 6

California Center for Sustainable Energy has enough nonresidential solar applications under review to move into Step 6 incentive levels. For the most updated information and incentive levels visit www.csi-trigger.com/

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Trigger Tracker & Data Snapshot


For a look at today’s CSI incentive status, visit the CSI Statewide Trigger Tracker.
CSI Handbook For weekly CSI program data updates, including summary charts and fully searchable program data, visit California Solar Statistics.
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Beat the Holiday (Solar) Rush

Even the solar industry experiences a year-end rush.

CSI Program Administrators encourage everyone to complete and submit outstanding CSI applications as soon as possible to help ensure timely processing of the application so that the rebate payment can be made in 2009 and qualifying federal tax credits may be claimed.

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SolarTech Hosts Permitting & Installation Symposium Dec. 3

On Thursday, Dec. 3, the SolarTech Permitting and Installation Symposium will bring solar photovoltaic (PV) system installers and integrators together with building department representatives and policy makers to discuss best practices for permitting and inspection processes. The meeting will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Commonwealth Club headquarters, 595 Market St., San Francisco, CA (map). Click here to register for this event.

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California Public Agencies Secure $640 Million in Clean Renewable Energy Bonds

Hundreds of public agencies located throughout the State of California won allocations totaling $640 million for Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs), the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced recently. The California cities, counties and school districts were awarded more than 80 percent of the total $800 million in CREB allocations awarded nationwide. Nationally, there were nearly 1,000 applications representing more than $3 billion in requests, and it is significant that California public agencies were the overwhelming majority of awarded requests. The CSI Program Administrators estimate that these CREB allocations could result in as much as 100 MW of new solar projects statewide.

The CREBs program is administered through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and provides public agencies with an opportunity to own renewable energy projects by issuing tax-credit bonds that finance renewable energy projects for public facilities. The public agencies do not have to pay the interest on the bonds because the bondholders receive a tax credit in lieu of an interest payment. The agencies will have to pay back the money they borrow, though the idea is that they will use the money they save on energy bills to do so.

A total of 192 projects submitted by San Diego municipalities, school districts, universities and a water district were awarded $154 million in CREBs allocations for the San Diego region. If all the projects are built as solar, they would add 20 megawatts(MW) of solar power to the 50 MW now installed in San Diego County.

To view the allocation schedule click here.

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PG&E Increases Net Energy Metering Cap as Solar Continues to Expand

With the support of California Gov. Schwarzenegger, PG&E filed Advice Letter 3555-E to voluntarily raise the Net Energy Metering Cap to 3.5 percent of its peak load of total interconnections to ensure the solar industry has sufficient room for continued expansion. With the steady increase of customers going solar, PG&E is projected to reach the current Net Energy Metering cap by late 2011/early 2012, limiting capacity to only 2.5 percent of the peak load.

Net Energy Metering provides solar customers the option to offset the cost of electricity by receiving credit for excess generation from their system and is one of the driving forces behind the growth of solar.

“This is a welcome development that will help ensure that new solar customers can make solar purchases with certainty that net metering service will be available,” said CALSEIA Executive Director Sue Kateley. “On behalf of the solar industry, we thank the governor and PG&E for their leadership and look forward to continuing to collaborate on expanding the use of all solar technologies.”

The Advice Letter is pending CPUC approval before it will go into effect and is subject to a mandatory 20-day comment periods.

Click here to view the Advice Letter.

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CPUC Announces a Statewide CSI-Thermal Program for Solar Water Heating

The solar thermal industry received great news as the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) recently announced its proposed decision to implement a statewide solar thermal rebate program. The Commission still needs to vote to adopt the proposed decision and could vote on the decision at its Dec. 17 public meeting.

Solar thermal is the technology used in solar water heating, one of the most energy efficient uses of solar and, due to the limited size of a water heating system, less expensive than PV electric systems.

The proposed CSI-Thermal Program would start accepting applications on April 1, 2010, and run through Dec. 31, 2017. Some $300 million are allocated to incentives, which will be offered to home and business owners that heat water with either electricity or natural gas and are customers of SDG&E, PG&E, Southern California Gas or Southern California Edison. These utilities will serve as the program administrators, with the California Center for Sustainable Energy administering the program in the SDG&E service territory.

The program is expected to install 200,000 systems by the end of 2017. The proposed decision will go through the public review process before a final decision will be made by the CPUC in December.

For more information on the existing pilot program in San Diego that ends on Dec. 31, 2009, please contact swh@energycenter.org.

For more information on the proposed decision of the CPUC, click here.

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Solar Legislation Passes

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger recently signed into law several pieces of legislation that affect the distributed generation industry and will take effect on Jan.1, 2010.

Assembly Bills:

  • AB 920 (Wiggins) – Net Energy Metering (NEM) - payment for net excess generation. Allows Net Energy Metered customers to sell any net excess electricity (kWh) generated over the course of 12 months to their electric utility at a rate to be determined by the CPUC.
  • AB 1031 (Blumenfeld) – Local Government Renewable Self Generation - program expansion
  • AB 1551 (Committee on Utilities and Commerce) – Eligibility for CSI SASH and MASH

Senate Bills:

  • SB 32 (Negrete-McLeod) – Small Renewables Feed-in-Tariff - program expansion. Increases the maximum eligible system size for the Small Renewable Feed-in Tariff program from 1.5 MW to 3 MW. This bill also requires the CPUC to adjust the price of this tariff based on environmental attributes and also increases the statewide program cap from 500 MW to 750 MW. Provisions in the bill would also make certain CSI participants prior to 2010 eligible for the tariff.
  • SB 412 (Kehoe) – Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) – program expansion

For more information on these and all other 2009 legislation related to distributed generation, climate change, energy efficiency and utilities, visit http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/PUC/legislation.

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PG&E Residential Applications Still Going Strong after Move to Step 6

Even after an influx of almost 1,800 residential applications during the move from Step 5 to Step 6 in August 2009, PG&E continues to receive a steady number of Reservation Request Forms. Program Administrators (PAs) received approximately 550 new applications in September followed by a slight increase in October of more than 600 new applications. In the past, step changes – which trigger reductions in incentive levels – have been followed by a lag period in which applications were slow. “These applications demonstrate that solar continues to grow in PG&E service area, and throughout California, despite declining incentives,” says PG&E Program Manager Andrew Yip.

According to the recent CSI Staff Progress Report, average total costs for solar systems have gone down by $0.30/watt, an outcome praised as one of the CSI Program’s market transformation goals. “As more [solar] systems come online we expect system prices to come down,” said CPUC’s DG/CSI Program Supervisor Molly Sterkel. “This market transformation is the principle behind the declining incentive design.”

Click here for the Cost Trends Slides that were presented at the October 28 CSI Program Forum.

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Demand Strong for Affordable Solar Housing

Demand for solar as an energy solution for affordable multitenant housing is growing, as seen in the first year of the Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing (MASH) Program. Currently, California Center for Sustainable Energy has received $7,487,792 in funding requests for MASH Track 1 Incentives. Approximately 50 percent of that was received on 11/17. This accounts for 95 percent of the total CCSE Track 1 budget. A total of $272,146 is available for new applications.

Affordable solar housing in PG&E territory has also been strong. By Oct. 26, 2009, the program in PG&E service area had received Track 1 applications in excess of the allotted $32.9 million. To handle over subscription, all new incoming applications will be placed on a wait list and funded through Track 1 attrition. Program Administrators at PG&E ask customers to notify them if they have any reserved applications that are no longer proceeding and need to be cancelled.

PG&E will begin accepting Track 2 Grant Proposal applications in the first quarter of 2010. A webinar on Multifamily Solar is scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 10. For more information, visit www.pge.com/solarclasses. For more information on MASH in PG&E's service area, please contact solar@pge.com.

Click here for more information on the statewide MASH program.

Please note that all new applications (in CCSE territory) must be sent through mail. Hand deliveries, faxes or emails will not be accepted. In addition, please let us know if you have any applications currently in queue that are no longer proceeding and need to be cancelled. For specific information on the applications we have received please review the application statistics at www.energycenter.org/mash.

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California Solar Training Partnership

A program providing professional development and curricular support for instructors of solar installation technologies in California has received nearly $3.5 million in funding from the Department of Energy (DOE). The California Community Colleges, comprised of 110 colleges serving some 3 million students, will work with CCSE, California Energy Commission and the Labor Management Cooperation Committee (IBEW-NECA) to use the award for creating a statewide standardized training curriculum and certification program for solar photovoltaic (PV) and solar thermal (both heating and cooling). CCSE will lead the solar thermal portion of this program.

The California Solar Training Partnership is part of a nationwide DOE effort in conjunction with the Departments of Labor and Education to increase solar training programs, and ultimately, certified solar installers. Eight other regional programs were funded for a total of $27 million, including $10 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds.

The goals of the training program are to accelerate market adoption of solar technologies by ensuring that high-quality installations are standard and to create sustainable jobs within the solar installation industry.

The California program will provide training for trainers and curriculum resources for community college faculty, regional occupational programs and high schools. CCSE will be responsible for much of this educational material development, organizing a community advisory committee and participating in the National Consortium for Solar Installer Instructor Training. Click here for more information. www.energy.ca.gov/greenjobs

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Electronic Application Process On-track for 2010

With the beginning of 2010 right around the corner, the CSI Program Administrators (PAs) are guiding contractors toward the new electronic application submission process.

Hailed as a major step in streamlining the application process for CSI program users and Administrators alike, the “PowerClerk-Only” process enables electronic submission of documents previously required in hardcopy format. Users can expect additional enhancements to PowerClerk in 2010, including an attachment feature to allow users to submit documents electronically in PDF format and an upload feature to populate data from third-party software.

These efforts are being made to ensure a streamlined California Solar Initiative application process and an overall increase in consistency. In return, applicants can reduce postal costs and always find all up-to-date CSI forms in one location. Moreover, applicants and customers can expect quicker application turnaround times.

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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