The new CSI-Thermal Program began accepting applications for residential solar water heating systems on May 1, and already customers are receiving rebate checks. Solar water heating technologies provide practical and affordable energy-saving solutions worldwide, with an estimated 30 million households in China and nearly 90 percent of the homes throughout the Mediterranean using solar water heating. How far will sunny California go? Learn more about new CSI rebates for solar water heating at the Go Solar, California! Web site.
In This Issue
The statewide efforts to create an incentive program for solar water heating (SWH) paid off this month as the CSI-Thermal Program opened for business in the PG&E, SCE, SoCalGas and SDG&E service territories.
As part of the CSI Solar Thermal Program’s market facilitation strategy, PG&E is now accepting applications through its PowerPathway Program for an upcoming solar water heating training that offers a combined curriculum of photovoltaic (PV) system installation and residential water heating plumbing at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, Calif.
This training is designed to help contractors gain the necessary knowledge and skills required to install systems that qualify for the CSI-Thermal program for residential customers. While the training is open to all applicants with a valid California Contractors License A, B, C-4, C36 or C46, it is strongly suggested that applicants have previous PV system installation or plumbing experience.
Online applications will be accepted through June 1 for summer enrollment. Classes begin June 11 and run through June 26. If interested, apply online at www.pge.com/powerpathway under Bridge Programs. Please note that space is limited.
Over the last two months, PG&E's CSI team received more than 2,800 reservation requests totaling more than 16 MW, triggering PG&E's move toward Step 7 for residential projects. PG&E officially moved into Step 7 ($0.65/W) on April 2, upon receiving enough CSI applications to account for the residential Step 6 MW allotment.
Because PG&E received applications totaling more kW than was available on April 2, PG&E held a lottery to determine the applications to receive Step 6 funding. Applications not chosen via the lottery, and all subsequently received applications, have been receiving Step 7 funding.
On the nonresidential side, as PG&E is still working through applications to determine the exact cut-off date for these projects, PG&E will provide an update once all applications have been processed. As always, PG&E would like to remind customers that a particular project's incentive level is determined upon reservation confirmation.
Visit the PowerClerk Web site to check the status of an application.
As of May 19, CCSE has officially moved into Step 7 for nonresidential projects. The incentive rate for performance-based incentive (PBI) projects is $0.09/kWh for commercial applicants and $0.19/kWh for nonprofit and government entities. The incentive rate for expected performance-based buydown (EPBB) projects is $0.65/watt for commercial and $1.40/watt for nonprofits and governments.
With this move in the nonresidential sector, CCSE is now processing applications for all sectors at Step 7. For an up-to-date status on the current incentive level of any utility territory please visit the Trigger Tracker.
As of May 21, Southern California Edison (SCE) has officially dropped into Step 6 for nonresidential solar projects, with PBI incentive levels now at $0.15/kWh for commercial applicants and $0.26/kWh for government and nonprofit organizations.
Meanwhile, SCE has received enough applications to account for its residential megawatt (MW) allotment. As of May 20, SCE has just 3.95 MW remaining in residential Step 4, with 5.95 MW under review. Once SCE moves into residential Step 5, the incentive will drop from the current $1.90/watt to $1.55/watt.
Typically, Program Administrators face a significant increase in the number of applications as step changes approach. Please keep in mind that applications are processed in the order received. Because no one knows when step changes will occur, you may want to monitor the Trigger Tracker. Visit the PowerClerk Web site to check the status of an application.
On May 13, 2010, the CPUC closed the former rulemaking for the DG/CSI Program (R.08-03-008) and issued a new Order Instituting Rulemaking (R.)10-05-004, under which the Commission will continue efforts pertaining to the CSI and Distributed Generation programs. This is a routine procedural formality, and the text of Rulemaking 10-05-006 is available online. A notice of availability has been mailed to all persons on the service list, and the service list from the prior rulemaking has already been transferred in its entirety to form the new rulemaking service list. If you would like to be added to the service list for the DG/CSI proceeding, R. 10-05-004, please see the instructions on the CPUC Web site.
Recently, the CSI Program Administrators (PAs) have seen numerous solar projects being installed for high dollar amounts that do not reflect the current average installed dollar per watt. In order to combat this trend, the PAs agreed to place a soft cap on the installed cost of solar. Projects cannot exceed two standard deviations above the average cost per watt, or $14.70/watt, whichever is less. The current average system cost of PV systems ranges from $8.10 to $9.33 per CEC-AC watt, fully installed. As of March 2010, the defined reasonable limit was $14.70 CEC-AC watt, but this value changes as costs decrease. The current limit is available online.
Upon analysis of residential projects, the majority of the outliers are associated with projects under 2 kW. While this relationship is anticipated with economies of scale, namely the smaller the system size the higher the per watt dollar amount, isolating these smaller systems shows an unnecessarily high installed cost.
The soft cap instituted by the PAs attempts to alleviate this issue and protect homeowners from highly inflated installed costs, especially for the smaller-sized systems. A project may exceed the cost limit only if it can be demonstrated to the PA through appropriate documentation that the particular project requires a special configuration that will drive project costs above the limit.
With installed costs representing the biggest hurdle to installing PV, the intent of the CSI program is to drive down costs over time. The soft cap represents one more control to help institute honest prices in the market and create a strong and sustainable future for the PV industry.
SEPA: California Utilities Top Nation in Solar
PG&E’s 85 MW installed in 2009 edged out SCE’s 74 MW, which itself experienced an unprecedented 131 percent growth over the previous year’s total, SEPA noted. Five of the top 10 utilities are from California, with San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) dropping to No. 5 in 2009 (from No. 3 in 2008), and Sacramento Municipal Utility District and Los Angeles Department of Water and Power filling out the list at Nos. 9 and 10.
In SEPA’s cumulative solar megawatts category, SCE and PG&E retained their No. 1 and 2 spots with SDG&E retaining its No. 4 ranking. In the cumulative solar watts-per-customer category, SCE took over the top spot in the nation while PG&E came in at No. 8 and SDG&E at No. 9.
The full report is available online.
Guard Against Rooftop Robberies with Simple Steps
There are few hard-and-fast statistics about solar panel thefts, mostly anecdotal reports from around the country, but all indications are that California leads the nation. With individual solar panels costing $1,000 and up, a black market for stolen panels has developed in the U.S. and Mexico and spread onto the Internet at popular online shopping sites. A couple of guys with a pickup truck can haul away a load of solar panels fairly quickly if the panels are not well secured.
Many homeowners’ insurance policies will cover solar theft, but consumers need to check the fine print. Even if they are covered, consider the following measures to protect solar panels and your investment.
The principles of neighborhood watch also work pretty well – note any suspicious activities and take down license numbers of the vehicles; warn your neighbors and employees to do the same. Unfortunately, many solar panel robberies occur in remote areas away from neighborhoods.
New Solar Homes Partnership Offers Training Workshops
Trainings will be held:
GRID Alternatives’ Solarthon Events to Install SASH-funded Projects
The Solarthons are solar block parties where teams of volunteers, job trainees and individual and corporate work crews install solar for several low-income families in one neighborhood, all in one day. All of the proposed projects qualify for SASH program funding.
The first Solarthon will be held in Piru on June 12, followed by events in West Oakland, Fresno and San Diego this summer and fall. If you’d like to participate in Solarthon or would like more information on the SASH program, visit GRID Alternative’s Web site or call (510) 652-4730.
In addition to providing low-income homeowners with reduced electricity bills, the SASH program benefits the communities it serves by leveraging local green-job training and workforce development programs to assist with installing solar systems.
Save the dates for Solarthon:
SolarTech's 2010 Solar Leadership Summit was a definite success, with a diverse group of professional viewpoints converging to create even more momentum for California's key solar policy initiatives. Presentations from the two-day event, plus details of the Summit's "Solar Permitting Challenge," are now available on the SolarTech Web site.
Congratulations to Tim Sears and Erica Mackie of Grid Alternatives who received the 2010 James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award that comes with $125,000 plus additional resources for sharing their innovative approaches to expanding solar to low-income communities.
GRID Alternatives is the statewide manager for CSI’s Single-family Affordable Solar Homes (SASH) program. The first program of its kind in the nation, SASH greatly increases the number of disadvantaged Californians who can benefit from renewable energy.
An open house for San Diego County farmers and other agricultural business operators interested in adopting solar electric was held at Lyall Farms, an orange grove in Pauma Valley, Calif., on May 12. Hosted by Western Solar of Poway, Calif., the event featured tours of the farm’s 106-kW ground-mounted solar system and information about the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Energy for America Program grants for renewable energy systems.
The incentive program covers up to 25 percent of the total cost of a renewable system to qualified farmers who submit grant applications. This grant, in addition to the federal tax incentive and the California Solar Initiative incentive, offers the potential to significantly reduce the total cost of a solar system by more than 60 percent. The sponsor of the event, Western Solar, gave a detailed analysis of the financial savings that potential agricultural customers could expect to gain from the application of these different incentives.
Upcoming Workshops and Trainings by Program Territory
Call for Photos of CSI-Funded Solar Systems
Submit your CSI-funded solar system photos here.
|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|
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San Francisco, California 94102