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Go Solar, California! Newsletter - December 2010

Solar Toolbox

CSI Handbook

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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

Greetings,

csi-nl-box-aug As 2010 draws to a close, the California Solar Initiative and utility interconnection managers urge customers to submit their solar interconnection paperwork for 2011 early to avoid processing delays. Also this month, the CSI team reports on the CSI budget in San Diego that affects solar incentives in the commercial sector and highlights a recent jobs census that points to strong growth in solar in 2011. Our featured photo of a 1 MW system installed by SolFocus comes from Victor Valley College in Victorville, Calif. Read on for more updates from the California Solar Initiative.


CSI Program Forum
Jan. 26, 2011
Pacific Energy Center
851 Howard Street, San Francisco


In This Issue


Residential Solar Incentives Move to Step 8 in San Diego Territory; CSI Solar Rebate Budget for NONRESIDENTIAL Sector Nearly Expended

The California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE), the CSI program administrators for the San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) service territory, has filled its megawatt allotment for residential incentive applications in Step 7 and has officially moved into Step 8. As of Oct. 27, all residential applications are being reserved under the Step 8 incentive levels of $0.35 per watt (EPBB) and $0.05 per kWh (PBI). The current incentive step schedule for California’s three investor-owned utility territories is posted on the CSI Trigger Tracker.

On Nov. 16, CCSE program managers issued a notification that the CSI incentive budget for nonresidential solar installations is almost fully committed in the SDG&E service territory. Several circumstances — including higher-than-average solar production in sunny San Diego — resulted in the incentive budget depleting faster than expected.

While funding may be fully committed for nonresidential solar projects in San Diego for now, CSI Program Administrators at CCSE advise customers to continue to apply for nonresidential solar incentives to secure placement on the program’s waitlist. This is recommended because the average program dropout rate historically is about 20 percent, and with approximately 46 megawatts of reservations currently uncompleted in San Diego, many of the waitlisted projects could receive incentive reservations if additional program funding becomes available.

The CPUC is monitoring the CSI budgets for all three program areas and this information will be included on California Solar Statistics by late December. The budgetary issue in San Diego does not currently affect applications in the Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) or Southern California Edison (SCE) service territories.

Is there a silver lining to the current budget concerns? According to Katrina Perez, CCSE’s nonresidential solar program manager, the answer is positive. “We hope that this issue will help create a groundswell of support for additional funding of CSI or a new renewable energy incentive program in California in the near future,” Perez said. California Solar Initiative.

You can refer to a San Diego Union Tribune article that details the causes and effects of the recent CSI budgetary issues.

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SCE Nearing Nonresidential Step Change

As of Nov. 30, Southern California Edison (SCE) was nearing enough applications to account for its nonresidential Step 7 megawatt (MW) allotment. Just two weeks earlier, however, SCE was oversubscribed in this segment.

The quick change in just two weeks was the result of a proactive effort by SCE to clean out its backlog of applications in a long-term suspended and/or overdue status.

Contractors are encouraged to notify SCE of any additional applications that need to be canceled so the Step 7 allocation can be further maximized for its customers.

Once SCE moves to Step 8 for nonresidential, the incentive level will drop to $0.05/MW for commercial customers and $0.15/MW for government and nonprofit entities.

Historically speaking, Program Administrators (PAs) 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 the step change will occur, you may want to monitor the Trigger Tracker at www.csi-trigger.com.

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New Tracking System Incorporated into EPBB Calculator

The CSI EPBB Calculator (www.csi-epbb.com) has undergone some recent changes including a new look and feel as well as having been updated to include support for tracking systems. Applicants now have a choice of selecting fixed, single-axis or double-axis systems when applying for performance-based incentives (PBI). This will ensure that tracking is accounted for properly in the calculated estimated production and incentives, so please make the right selection for your PV system.

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SDG&E Rolls Out Solar Smart Meters

Starting in December, SDG&E will begin installing solar-compatible smart meters in select residences across its utility territory. Previously, smart meters were not compatible with solar PV systems due to software issues. Instead of crediting excess generation from the PV system, through a program called Net Metering, the billing software was charging customers for this overproduction. This caused many problems, and if a residential customer had a smart meter installed prior to installing a PV system, the smart meter was swapped out for a standard mechanical meter.

SDG&E has now resolved these software malfunctions and will be begin reinstalling smart meters for PV customers starting this month. To find out more about smart meters and SDG&E’s installation schedule, please visit www.sdge.com/smartmeter.

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CPUC Workshops Discuss Proposal for CSI Program Modifications

In August 2010, the California Public Utilities Commission held a prehearing conference to take public statements pertaining to the CPUC Energy Division’s Staff Proposal for Program Modifications to the California Solar Initiative. The objective of this prehearing conference was to determine the priority issues from the staff proposal divided into Phases 1-3.

On Nov. 9, the CPUC issued a ruling and scoping memo to request comment of the top-priority, Phase 1, issues and established a due date for comments of Dec. 6, 2010 (reply comments are due Dec. 20). Staff held two workshops (Oct. 25, Nov. 17) to further discuss the issues.

For more information on the CSI Staff Proposal and Phase 1 workshop presentations, click here.

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Job Growth in Solar Industry Strong Across California and the U.S.


According to the Solar Foundation’s National Solar Jobs Census 2010, a review of the U.S. solar workforce, job growth in the solar industry is outpacing other sectors in the U.S. economy. As of August 2010, the solar industry reported 93,500 workers across the country — roughly double since 2009 — in construction, manufacturing, sales and business development, electrical engineering, roofing and plumbing, accounting, legal and administrative and other related fields. California alone employs 36,000 people, more than one-third of the national solar workforce.

The Solar Foundation report shows that more than 50 percent of firms surveyed claim they will hire more workers (with only two percent of firms claiming that they will reduce their workforces). In California, employer optimism is even higher. The 2009 CSI Impact Evaluation (Chapter 11.4) shows that 76 percent of California solar firms surveyed expect to hire an average of 59 percent more full-time employees in the next 12 months.

To help foster greater competencies among solar installers, the CSI Program Administrators offer monthly solar classes and workshops on a range of topics, including the CSI application process and the program’s solar rebate tools. Program Administrators report more than 22,500 CSI solar class attendees (both professionals and customers) since 2007.

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SASH Program Extends its Reach to the Central Coast

GRID Alternatives is pleased to announce the recent opening of a new office in San Luis Obispo, which will serve the Single-family Affordable Solar Homes (SASH) program’s clients in the Central Coast of California. The new office will operate in Santa Cruz, Monterey, San Benito, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties, adding to existing GRID Alternatives’ SASH Program services in the Bay Area, Greater Los Angeles, the San Diego area, the Central Valley and Inland Empire regions. The SASH program incentives provide low-income families with free or low-cost PV solar systems to reduce household energy expenses and to allow families to direct those savings toward other basic needs.

Central Coast Outreach Coordinator Sandra Knapp said, “Optimistic doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel about this area. There is so much potential here and we have all the tools to make a great impact in this new territory. I know we can effectively serve our future clients.”

Although the Central Coast office has been operational for only a few months, there are nearly fifty SASH Program homes in the office’s project pipeline. GRID Alternatives, a nonprofit solar installer, is the statewide program manager for the SASH Program and oversees its five regional offices from its headquarters office in Oakland.

For further information about the SASH Program or GRID Alternatives, please visit the website at http://www.gridalternatives.org, or call 1-866-921-4696.


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California’s New Energy Efficiency Web Portal “Engage 360” Now Live

The State of California has launched a new energy efficiency brand for its consumer energy campaign, Engage 360. In addition to educating customers about energy efficiency and conservation, it will also encompass other demand-side programs, energy alerts and ways to make smart energy decisions a part of the California lifestyle. Over the next several years, the campaign will include grassroots efforts, mass and local media and online social marketing through a web portal.

The web portal, www.engage360.com, provides information, opportunities to take actions and a forum to exchange experiences and knowledge. It works like many social networking sites, and there are multiple ways to use the portal:

  • Browse the content of the portal through the links on the home page.
  • Click on Count Me In on the home page and register to be a member. Members can join groups and make comments on content posted by others.
  • Request to contribute articles to the site as a registered Subject Matter Expert to provide resources for other users.

The Ascentium agency in Los Angeles was the portal developer. See what Engage 360 can do for your energy decisions! Contributions to the site, which is now live and operational, are welcomed.

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CSI Interconnection Deadlines Approaching

CSI Program Administrators (PAs) and Interconnection Teams would like to thank everyone for another successful year for solar adoption. Each PA has seen a significant increase of net energy metering interconnection requests and is on track to exceed the record volumes set last year. In fact, SCE has currently received about 50 percent and PG&E 38 percent more applications so far this year.

Given the increased volume, all PAs are pooling together resources to address the current queue of projects. To help avoid any potential delays, the PAs ask that you only submit completed interconnection applications with all required documentation including the final approved electrical clearance/building permit.

The CSI Team thanks you for your patience as they work hard to complete all requests. Please see below for each PA's deadline for interconnection in 2010:

PG&E: Any new incoming interconnection applications will likely be completed in 2011 due to current backlog
SCE: Must submit interconnection applications by Dec. 6
SDG&E: Must submit interconnection applications by Dec. 17

 

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Workshops

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 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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