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Go Solar, California! Newsletter - January 2010

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csi-nl-box-aug Greetings and Happy New Year!

Program Administrators for the California Solar Initiative will host the next CSI Program Forum on Friday, January 29, at PG&E's Pacific Energy Center in San Francisco. The agenda will include key project updates and CSI program changes, a 2009 recap and updates on the recently approved CSI Thermal Program for solar water heating incentives. Ample time will be devoted to Q&A, so please bring your questions! Registration is required. To RSVP, please contact Jessica Tellez at 415.973.5457 or To learn more, visit As always, CSI Program statistics are updated weekly and available on the California Solar Statistics website.

In This Issue

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CSI Solar Thermal Program Now Under Way

The solar thermal industry celebrated the CPUC‘s unanimous approval of a much anticipated statewide solar water heating rebate program on Thursday, January 21, 2010. Under this new $350 million program called CSI-Thermal, gas and electric customers of PG&E, SCE and Southern California Edison Gas (SoCalGas) and SDG&E will be eligible to receive a rebate for installing qualified solar water heating systems starting May 1, 2010. The program is expected to run through 2017 or until the money runs out. Homeowners and building owners with natural gas water heaters may receive up to $1,875 and $500,000 respectively. Homeowners and building owners with electric water heaters will receive a slightly smaller incentive of up to $1,250 and $250,000 respectively, as it is currently more cost-effective to install a solar water heater that offsets electricity usage. Incentives are greatest at the beginning of the program and will decrease in four steps over time. The program has aggressive goals of displacing 585 million therms of natural gas and 150 MW of electricity, which is approximately the equivalent of placing a solar water heater in 200,000 single-family homes. Solar thermal professionals are optimistic that the new CSI-Thermal rebate program will greatly support the growth of the industry and significantly increase the market penetration of solar thermal technology. The CSI Thermal Program will be administered by PG&E, SCE, SoCalGas and by the California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE) in the SDG&E territory.

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MASH Program Semiannual Report Issued and Track 2 Cycle Applications Now Being Accepted

On January 20, 2010, the California Solar Initiative's Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing (MASH) Program issued its first semiannual report, which provides detailed information on the MASH Program's progress in each of the three service territories in California. Currently, the MASH Program’s Track 1 incentives are fully subscribed in PG&E, SCE and CCSE service territories; all three program administrators — PG&E, SCE and CCSE — are currently accepting applications for the Track 2 incentives.

The second cycle of the MASH program's Track 2 incentives began on Jan. 4, 2010, and applications for this round must be received (not postmarked) by March 31, 2010. Unlike Track 1, which provides one-time, dollar-per-Watt incentives to offset common use, Track 2 offers grant-style incentives for creative, innovative projects that provide significant and direct tenant benefit.

The goals of the MASH program include (1) improving energy utilization and overall quality of affordable housing through application of solar and energy-efficiency technologies, (2) decreasing electricity use and costs without increasing monthly household expenses for affordable housing building occupants and (3) increasing awareness and appreciation of the benefits of solar among affordable housing occupants and developers. Contact your Program Administrator with any questions regarding your MASH application.

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Bill AB 920 Offers Compensation Option for Net-Metered Net Generators

Assembly Bill AB 920 (Huffman, 2009) authored by Assembly member Jared Huffman, and approved by Governor Schwarzenegger in late 2009, will expand the current net-metering programs for wind and solar. The bill provides an enhancement to the current Net Energy Metering (NEM) program by providing a compensation option to the basic NEM program for "net generators," i.e. customers who import more electricity to the grid than they export from the grid, based on a customer's 12-month annual billing cycle. After AB 920 is fully implemented, these net generators will have the option to receive compensation at a to-be-determined rate or to apply the net surplus as a credit for the kilowatt hours subsequently supplied. Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) associated with any new surplus electricity sold to the utility will be owned by the utility, while RECs associated with electricity used onsite will be retained by the customer.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) still has to determine the program's details before the new enhancements are fully implemented. This is anticipated to happen some time in 2010. The CPUC also has issued a Ruling asking the investor-owned utilities to file comments on implementing the provisions of AB 920. Click here for more information.

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Deadline Extended for Second CSI RD&D Solicitation

The deadline to submit proposals for the second CSI Research, Development, Demonstration and Deployment (RD&D) Solicitation, for which up to $15 million in funding is available, has been extended to 4:00 p.m. (PST) on Feb. 16, 2010. The second RD&D solicitation focuses on improved PV production technologies and innovative business models. More information, including the solicitation package, can be found here.

The goal of the CSI RD&D Program is to help build a sustainable and self-supporting industry for customer-sited solar in California. The CSI RD&D Program is administered by Itron, Inc., as Program Manager, under the oversight of the California Public Utilities Commission.

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New Sizing Requirements for Performance-Based Incentive Projects

Beginning Jan. 1, 2010, all new CSI projects, 30 kW and above, must apply for the Performance-Based Incentive (PBI) instead of the Expected Performance-Based Buydown (EPBB) incentive. PBI projects consist of monthly payments on recorded kilowatt hours of solar power produced over a five-year period and require the installation of a separate +/- 2% accurate meter and a contract with an eligible Performance Monitoring and Reporting Service provider, as well as an approved Performance Data Provider. For more information, visit the Go Solar, California! Web site.

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San Diego State University Students Awarded in December Ceremony

csi-nl-box-augThe Associated Students of San Diego State University extended their commitment to a more sustainable campus by installing a solar photovoltaic (PV) system to power the Aztec Aquaplex swim center. CCSE rewarded the students with a $286,116 rebate check from the California Solar Initiative during a ceremony held in December 2009. The 124 kW system will save the university more than $35,000 a year in utility costs and generates enough solar power to reduce 299,940 pounds of CO2 from the atmosphere producing roughly 241,887 kWh per year. Click here to learn more.

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DOE Solar Technology Development Program to Support Three California Manufacturers

On January 20, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced an investment of up to $12 million – including $10 in federal stimulus funds – to support the development of four early stage solar energy technologies in an effort to help them advance to commercial production. Three of the four companies are headquartered in California.

“By partnering with the DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, these companies will be able to gain from their expertise, accelerate the pace of innovation and help get technologies to market faster,” said DOE Secretary Steven Chu.

The partnership projects in California include:

  • Alta Devices, Inc. (Santa Clara) – Develop an innovative high-efficiency (>20%), low-cost compound-semiconductor PV module.
  • Solar Junction Corp. (San Jose) – Develop a manufacturing process to produce a very high-efficiency multijunction cell for concentrating PV systems.
  • Tetra Sun (Saratoga) – Develop back surface passivation technology for high-efficiency, potentially low-cost C-Si solar cells.

The fourth funded project is with Semprius, Inc., of Durham, NC, for efforts to develop a massively parallel, microcell-based concentrating PV receiver. Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, DOE is investing more than $117 million in developing and deploying solar energy technologies. To learn more, visit the DOE Web site.

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PG&E's First Quarter Solar Webinar Schedule Released

PG&E recently debuted its first quarter 2010 online class schedule (aka "webinar" schedule). Building on a successful 2009, during which time almost 5,000 customers attended PG&E's no-cost classes, this year's schedule includes the ever-popular lineup of classes such as Solar Basics for Photovoltaic and Solar Water Heating Systems, Financial Analysis, Solar Billing, Solar Interconnection and many others.

To learn more about these classes or to offer your feedback or suggestions for future content, please contact Lisa Shell at 415.973.0305 or

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Measurement and Evaluation Studies Seek CSI Customer Input

To determine the effectiveness of the CSI Program in reaching its goals of transforming California’s solar economy, Program Administrators and Regulators at the CPUC have hired several consultants to perform numerous measurement and evaluation studies. To obtain a broad range of relevant data, the consultants have contacted many solar customers, who have received CSI rebates, to participate in various surveys. Both CSI Program Administrators and the consultants greatly appreciate the time these customers have given to the studies. If you are contacted by one of the consultants to participate and would like more information on the purposes of the study, please visit the Go Solar, California! Web site or contact your Program Administrator. To view current program statistics, visit the California Solar Statistics Web site.

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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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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

Other Renewable and Distributed Energy Events

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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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© 2009 California Solar Initiative

The CSI program is funded by California investor-owned utility customers and administered by Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas and Electric, and the California Center for Sustainable Energy under the auspices of the California Public Utilities Commission.

The New Solar Homes Partnership is administered by the California Energy Commission.

California Public Utilities Commission
505 Van Ness Ave.
San Francisco, California 94102