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Go Solar, California! Newsletter - Special Edition

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Greetings ,

This is a special issue of the Go Solar, California! newsletter containing information of immediate interest to all constituents of the California Solar Initiative rebate program.

In This Issue

New CSI Annual Program Assessment Shows Program Demand Strong in 2010

California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) said that three years into the state's 10-year solar program, California is already 42 percent of the way towards its general market program goal in the territories of the investor-owned utilities.

In its California Solar Initiative (CSI) Annual Program Assessment Report to the Legislature, the CPUC said that California has over 600 megawatts (MW) of solar connected to the electric grid at nearly 65,000 customer sites. Of the 598 MW of capacity installed in investor-owned utility territories, 342 MW were installed under the CSI Program at 31,000 sites, as well as 256 MW installed through other programs. The non-CSI Program solar capacity was installed under other solar programs, including the California Energy Commission's New Solar Homes Program and the CPUC's Self-Generation Incentive Program and the Emerging Renewables Program.

Other program highlights from the report include:

  • Demand is increasing. The CSI Program received a record of nearly 300 MW of new CSI project applications since January 2010 - more than any other six-month period since the start of the program.
  • The program had over 134 MW of new projects applying in April 2010, the highest month on record for new solar applications.
  • For every dollar spent on incentives by the state, there has been another $2.62 invested in solar technology in California from other sources.
  • Program data shows a decline in the average cost of solar systems. The inflation adjusted cost trends show that prices have declined since January 2007 from $10.04/watt to $8.49/watt for systems under 10 kW.
  • The CSI Program has reduced incentive levels several times since 2007 in response to program demand. Incentives started at $2.50/watt across the state, and now they are as low as $0.65/watt.

In light of strong recent program demand, the CPUC also issued a ruling (see below) that solicits comments on making minor modifications to the CSI incentive levels in order to keep the budget on track with the megawatt goals of the program.

Weekly program demand data, including new rebate applications, installed systems, and systems installed by city and county, can be found here.

The report is available here.


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CPUC Solicits Comments on CSI Budget and Issues Temporary Hold on New CSI Reservations for Large Solar Projects

In light of strong program demand, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) issued a ruling seeking comments on a proposal to slightly modify the incentive budget for the California Solar Initiative (CSI). The ruling puts a temporary hold, expected to last only until September, on the issuance of new solar reservations for Performance Based Incentive (PBI) projects and all government/non-profit owned projects received after July 9, 2010. All applications are still being accepted and reviewed for completeness during this time.

The temporary hold on new reservations does not affect the residential Expected Performance Based Buydown (EPBB) market or any project that applied before July 9, 2010. Given that the program already received more than 300 megawatts for 10,000 new projects since January 2010 that are unaffected by the ruling, the solar market is expected to continue its strong installation trend throughout 2010. Also, most large projects take over a year to come online, and this temporary hold on large projects is not expected to present a major disruption to the solar market.

"Nobody wants to lower the incentive levels," said Molly Sterkel, program supervisor for the CSI at the CPUC. "However, we want to make sure the program meets its ambitious megawatt goals and also stays within its statutorily authorized budget."

Now that the program is in its fourth year of operation, the CPUC’s ruling is an attempt to make sure the 10-year program stays on track with its nearly $2 billion budget. The ruling notes that the CPUC is concerned that the program incentive budget could be depleted before the program achieves its overall megawatt goals. The ruling seeks comment on slightly reducing incentives for projects over 30 kW, as well as reducing the existing incentive premium for government and non-profit projects. Under the proposal, which is open for comment, public sector projects would still receive incentives that are higher than any other customer class, but the rebates would be reduced slightly from their current levels. For example, at Step 7, government rebates would be 58 percent higher than commercial-entity rebates, instead of 115 percent higher than commercial-entity rebates.

Below is an explanation on how all applications (new and existing) will be handled while the CPUC considers the potential incentive level change.

Applications Received on or before July 9, 2010

  • All applications that have already been issued a reservation will continue to be processed as normal with the existing incentive level that has already been confirmed.
  • All applications that have not been issued a reservation, but are either in the queue or being reviewed by Program Administrators will continue to be processed as normal with the existing incentive levels.

Applications Received after July 9, 2010

  • All EPBB applications, EXCEPT government/nonprofit-owned applications, will continue to be processed as normal with the existing incentive levels.
  • All Performance Based Incentives (PBI) applications will be reviewed for completeness, however they will not receive a confirmed reservation that sets their incentive level. All government/nonprofit-owned (EPBB or PBI) applications will be reviewed for completeness, however they will not receive a confirmed reservation that sets their incentive level. All PBI and government/nonprofit-owned applications will be put in a queue for reservation until further directed by the CPUC. These applications will also be subject to a potential incentive level change depending on the CPUC's modification of the CSI program.

Please contact your program administrators if you have additional questions. Click here to see the CPUC ruling.


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