In This Issue
National Solar Tours Set for Oct. 2
Get on board for the nation’s largest grassroots solar event during the National Solar Tour on Saturday, Oct. 2, in conjunction with National Energy Awareness Month and California’s Solar Energy Month. Presented by the American Solar Energy Society (ASES), more than 150,000 participants are expected to visit some 5,500 buildings in 3,200 communities across the U.S.
The tours offer the opportunity to see how solar energy can be used to shrink monthly utility bills and help reduce dependence on fossil fuels. Participating California cities include San Diego, El Centro, Long Beach, Lompoc, Fresno, Davis, Walnut Creek and Santa Cruz. For a complete listing, visit ASES’s California tour Web site.
The ASES Web site has a large collection of photos of home solar installations and well as personal stories written by homeowners who want to share their experiences with solar.
At its Sept. 23, 2010, business meeting, the CPUC unanimously approved a Decision to reallocate $40 million of the CSI program’s administrative budget to secure funding for the program’s incentive budget.
In July, the CPUC discovered a shortfall in the CSI budget for non-residential projects, and issued a Ruling to take public comment on making adjustments to the CSI budget. The initial ruling, issued on July 9th, also included a temporary postponement of issuance of new PBI incentive reservations. The postponement of issuance of new reservations was lifted on July 29th, once the CPUC had received public comment on the issue.
Commissioner Simon commended the CSI program for helping to drive down the costs of solar in California, calling it a “model for efficient use of [public] resources.”
Get ready for an October of celebrating the joys of going solar during California Solar Energy Month.
At its Sept. 23, 2010, business meeting the California Public Utilities Commission voted unanimously to oppose Proposition 23, an initiative on California’s November 2 ballot designed to suspend the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. Click here to read the press release.
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved nine grants totaling up to $14.6 million in funding for the California Solar Initiative (CSI) Research, Development, Deployment and Demonstration (RD&D) Program’s second grant solicitation, which focuses on improved photovoltaic (PV) production technologies and innovative business practices. The nine recipients are expected to have matching funds of over $13 million for their projects from other funding sources.
“In this second round of grants, we look to further advance the technology along with the development of positive and successful business practices in the solar industry,” said CPUC President Michael R. Peevey.
The CSI RD&D Program is administered by Itron, Inc., as program manager, under the oversight of the CPUC. With a budget of $50 million running through 2016, the program awarded $9.3 million for the first round of grants issued in March 2010. The goal of the program is to fund projects that will measurably reduce the cost and accelerate the installation of technologies that employ solar energy to generate or store electricity or to reduce the use of natural gas.
For a list of approved grants and further program information, read the CPUC June 2 news release.
While smart meters are not currently capable of measuring power generated from a photovoltaic (PV) system, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) is working to develop the information technology infrastructure to support it. In the meantime, solar accounts will continue to have rotary meters hooked up until the new smart meter software is ready to process the flood of data the meters will provide.
The target date for smart meter installation for San Diego solar customers will begin in spring 2011. Ultimately, solar customers with smart meters will be able to precisely track the surplus energy they feed back into the grid and will be credited for it accordingly. The smart meter will have the option to interface with Google PowerMeter, incentivizing even more energy savings. A PV customer will be able to track in near real time a home’s energy usage and production from any renewable technology. For more information about smart meters, please visit sdge.com/smartmeter.
Ceremonies were held this summer for two nonresidential solar installations in the San Diego Gas & Electric territory that garnered public and media attention. In late August, the California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE) awarded a CSI rebate for more than $200,000 to Rainbow Sandals of San Clemente, Calif. The ribbon cutting on the 191 kW solar system, the largest project in the city, was attended by San Clemente Mayor Jim Dahl and Jay Longley, owner/founder of Rainbow Sandals.
CCSE CSI staff members also awarded a rebate to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of San Diego, a "home away from home" for families with seriously ill children being treated at San Diego area hospitals. The charity installed an 86.4 kW system and received a $167,467 rebate check as well as a Solar Partner Award from CCSE for their contributions towards a clean energy future in San Diego.
Beginning November 1, 2010, GRID Alternatives will not accept new applications for the SASH Subcontractor Partnership Program (SPP). Currently, there is a high level of participation in the program and closing the program to new applicants will allow GRID to work with existing SPP partners to streamline the program. If you have any questions, please e-mail SASH@gridalternatives.org or call (866) 921-4696.
Homeowners Receive First Solar-Thermal Rebates in San Diego
According to Katrina Phruksukarn, CCSE’s manager for CSI-Thermal, the rebates varied from $814 to $928 based on the type of solar water heating system, location, shading and other design factors. Incentive recipients were Bob Stanberry of San Diego, Cindy Becker of Fallbrook and Mavis Smith of San Diego. Visit www.csithermal.com for more information.
In another development, the California Cash For Appliances Program has approved an additional rebate for qualifying systems that will continue until the money is used up. The program offers a rebate for qualifying solar water heating systems of $750. The program is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Stimulus Fund and is administered by the California Energy Commission. Details about the program can be found online at www.Cash4Appliances.org.
GRID Alternatives Hosts Bay Area Solarthon
A total of 18 kilowatts were installed, which will generate over $180,000 in clean energy for the residents over the next 20 to 30 years and will save them over 75% on their electricity bills. All of the installations were supported by the Single-family Affordable Solar Homes (SASH) Program, a part of CSI that helps low-income homeowners afford solar electric systems. Nonprofit solar installer GRID Alternatives is the statewide program manager for SASH.
A participant in the event, David Belden, from the sponsor group CleanTechies writes about participating in Solarthon: “As the saying goes, give a man a fish and he’ll have dinner for one night. Teach him to fish and he’ll have dinner for the rest of his life. I think the same thing goes with energy. Giving these families money to pay their energy bill is a one-time fix. Installing solar panels to supply them with free, clean energy for the next 30 plus years is a smart long-term solution. . . . Would I do it again? Absolutely.”
The next Solarthon is scheduled for Oct. 2 in Fresno, Calif. For more information, visit GRID Alternative’s Web site or call 1-866-921-4696.
SASH Program Fosters Opportunities for Green Job Training
A portion of all SASH Program installations include positions for teams of job trainee volunteers, and all SASH Program projects installed through the Subcontractor Partnership Program also include at least one job trainee per installation.
Kevin Raithlopez (kneeling at left in photo) is a young military veteran who connected with GRID Alternatives and the SASH Program after studying in a photovoltaic (PV) job training program at Laney College in Oakland. He participated in the Bay Area Solarthon in July and worked side-by-side with a group of volunteers from Pacific Gas & Electric.
Kevin views energy as an important and growing industry and is seeking to become a certified solar installer, which requires a substantial amount of on-site PV installation experience. He comments, “As a student, it has been hard for me to get experience in order to gain my certification. GRID Alternatives was kind of a big break for me, to gain the on-site work that I need.”
If you would like more information on volunteering or job training opportunities with GRID Alternatives, please visit their volunteer Web site or call (866) 921-4696.
On Sept. 29, New Solar Homes Partnership (NSHP) staff will conduct a full-day training workshop in Visalia. The training is open to retailers, installers, energy consultants and other interested parties and will focus on how to participate in the program. An application clinic will be provided during the last hour of the training, allowing attendees to discuss specific application issues with NSHP staff.
CSI Program Administrators (PAs) are proud to be exhibiting at this year’s West Coast Green taking place at Fort Mason Center in San Francisco Sept. 30 – Oct. 2. The PAs will also be at the Solar Power International Exhibition and Conference happening at Los Angeles Convention Center Oct. 12 – 14. Come visit the Go Solar, California! booth for latest information and resources on the CSI programs.
Starting this month, you can set your desktop clocks for PG&E’s Solar Noon webinar series. Each Monday and Friday at 12 noon PG&E will present a one-hour web class on the latest developments in the California Solar Initiative (CSI) PV and thermal programs, as well as other timely information on going solar. Among some of our most popular classes are Steps to Installing Solar, Financial Options for Solar and others.
All of the webinars are free and do not require registration — you simply attend using your computer and a phone line. For class listings and webinar instructions, visit the PG&E Pacific Energy Center Web site.
Call for Photos of CSI-Funded Solar Systems
Submit your CSI-funded solar system photos here.
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