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Go Solar, California! Newsletter - May 2011

Solar Toolbox

CSI Handbook



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


Cross Promotion

CSI Annual Program Assessment



Want to accurately estimate the energy production of a potential solar installation? The California Solar Initiative EPBB solar Incentive Calculator now displays the estimated monthly production (in kilowatt-hours, left) of a given solar system installation based on specific system inputs. The calculator also compares the production of proposed systems against production at optimized systems with similar tilt and azimuth. Using standard assumptions based on NREL's PV Watts v2 calculator, this tool is designed to let users to see how changes in system design affects system output. Other great new CSI program resources include the CSI Document Matrix and, coming soon, the Solar Advantage Value Estimator. Read on!

In This Issue

Go Solar, California! Success Stories:
Real stories shared by solar customers and professionals

MASH in San Diego- Affordable Housing Tenants Get Solar at No Cost to Owner

This 138-kilowatt PV system atop Town and Country Village Apartments in San Diego is the largest multifamily affordable housing installation completed in the SDG&E territory. It will produce about 200,000 kWh annually, which will directly benefit the low-income residents via a virtual net metering program that allocates bill credits to each tenant meter. "For this project," said project integrator Scott Sarem of Everyday Energy, "there were no costs for the housing property owner and no monthly payments."

Quality Inn Second Hotel for SunGreen Systems

A 90-kilowatt solar PV system recently installed on the Quality Inn in Ontario, Calif., is the second hotel project by SunGreen Systems of Irwindale, Calif.

The California Solar Initiative is looking for solar success stories and great photos of solar systems to promote in the newsletter—and we want to feature yours! Click here to share your solar successes.


Postponement of MASH Program Track 2 Continues

On April 15, 2011, Southern California Edison (SCE) filed a request on behalf of the CSI Program Administrators to extend the postponement of the 2011 Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing (MASH) Program Track 2 incentive cycle. The postponement is currently set to expire on April 29, 2011.

The original request for postponement was authorized by the California Public Utilities Commisssion (CPUC) in order to preserve the MASH incentive funds. The future of the program's funding depends on the commission's adoption of a CPUC staff recommendation to reallocate the MASH Track 2 funds to Track 1 incentives, which are sold out in all three program territories. This recommendation was incorporated as part of a larger staff proposal for modification to the CSI Program, which is pending a decision by the CPUC.

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SCE Moving Forward with AB 2724-Impacted Applications

Working in conjunction with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), Southern California Edison (SCE) has conditionally reserved CSI incentives for nearly 13 megawatts (MW) of solar projects eligible under Assembly Bill (AB) 2724.

Effective as of Jan. 1, 2011, AB 2724 requires the CPUC to authorize rebates for up to 5 MW and limits any incentives provided for eligible state agency solar energy systems to an aggregate of 26 MW total. All 26 MW are on a first-come, first-served basis and may be used up in any of the CSI Program Administrator service territories.

To date, SCE has approved 13 MW worth of applications for the California Department of Corrections, leaving about 13 MW that can be reserved under AB 2724. AB 2724 is scheduled to sunset on Jan. 1, 2013.


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Solar Thermal Training in San Diego

csi-nl-box-augA mock home roof was constructed inside a California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE) learning center during a four-day, hands-on training workshop on solar water heating systems. The training was presented by National Solar Trainers in support of CCSE's CSI Thermal Program. The sessions provided comprehensive installer training and served to develop San Diego's solar thermal workforce.


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Good News for Homeowners: Solar Boosts Resale Values

California homeowners who go solar will have an even brighter outlook when they see the value a solar photovoltaic (PV) system adds to their home, according to a new Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory report called An Analysis of the Effects of Residential Photovoltaic Energy Systems on Home Sales Prices in California.

The report analyzes nearly 2,000 California homes that have sold with PV installed and finds strong evidence that California homes with PV systems have sold for a premium over comparable homes without PV systems.

Specifically, the report notes home sales price increases from having a PV system an average of $5.50/watt, which corresponds to a home sales price premium of approximately $17,000 for a relatively new 3.1-kilowatt PV system (the average size of PV systems in the study). The analysis finds that sales price premiums decline as PV systems age.


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Analysts Optimistic About Lower Solar Permitting Fees in 2011

Pressure from California's top solar advocates is prompting many cities and counties to reassess and even modify their permitting fee structures, a key contributor to solar "soft costs" that analysts hope will decline in 2011.

From Sonora to San Diego County, permitting cost studies from groups like the Sierra Club, SolarTech and others are under way. The Sierra Club has also published a spreadsheet for local municipalities to calculate solar permit cost recovery based on review time and inspection inputs for both residential and commercial PV systems. Analysts say this is good news for a sustainable solar industry.

"When you look at statewide permitting fees, you currently see high differentials from one city to another," says CPUC Analyst Amy Reardon. "Cities that expect to effectively promote solar need to adopt best practices that base fees on actual review times and billable hourly rates – not on variable PV project costs."

In addition to permit cost data collected in the CSI application process, recent CSI marketing and outreach plans highlight strategies in all three investor-owned utility territories to assist local permitting agencies understand solar and the interconnection process, making solar permits easier to review and cheaper to issue. The Solar America Board for Codes and Standards also provides robust support for local governments seeking to promote solar development.


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SASH Program Encourages Women in Solar

csi-nl-box-augWhat does a solar installer look like in your mind? Do you imagine a woman in hard hat? Perhaps, you should.

GRID Alternatives and the Single-family Affordable Solar Homes (SASH) Program are supporting women's inclusion in the green jobs movement through all-female volunteer installations. In March and April, GRID Alternatives coordinated women's builds in Fresno and Los Angeles. The teams installed three systems with a total of 8.8 kilowatts.

In Southwest Fresno, female community volunteers, team leaders and GRID Alternatives staff installed solar electric systems on two Habitat for Humanity homes. The build brought together women from different backgrounds to gain hands-on experience in solar, including members of the local Conservation Corps and staff from the job training organization Proteus.

In Los Angeles, a unique collaboration between GRID Alternatives and Solar Energy International (SEI) provided a free, two-day basic training in PV theory and design prior to the installation led by SEI instructor Kelly Larson. In the following two days, the women donned hard hats to install a PV system for the Galarza family in Watts, Calif.

Anna Bautista, a GRID Alternatives site supervisor said, "It was empowering to see the women gain confidence every moment they were in the field. We look forward to many more all-women installations and events with SEI as well as seeing more women in general at all GRID installations."

GRID Alternatives is the nonprofit Program Manager for the CSI SASH Program, which makes solar electric systems affordable to low income families through rebates.


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CSI Solar Forum Highlights Accomplishments and Offers a Look Ahead

On April 22, 2011, a group of 25 solar industry leaders and stakeholders in San Diego attended the California Solar Initiative (CSI) Program Forum at the California Center for Sustainable Energy. Representatives from the California Public Utility Commission and the three Program Administrators discussed the current status and future outlook of CSI. The forum also highlighted proposed revisions to the CSI Handbook, budget updates and accomplishments of the Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing (MASH), Single-Family Affordable Solar Homes (SASH) and CSI Thermal programs. Click here for the presentation.


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AB 920: Update on Net Metering Compensation

On April 5, 2011, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) issued an Alternate Proposed Decision on the compensation rate for excess generation from net metered customers. For those of you who have been contacted by customers anxious about the status of AB 920 and their payment, please encourage them to be patient. The utilities cannot implement this program until the CPUC has adopted the rules, which should happen later this year. We will continue to communicate any new developments as they arise and note that the utilities are ready to provide payments to net excess generators once this program has CPUC approval.


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CSI Document Matrix Streamlines CSI Forms

From feedback received from CSI program participants, program administrators have further streamlined the California Solar Initiative application process by creating a single CSI Document Matrix that features a convenient listing of all the forms used by the CSI Program. The CSI Document Matrix provides descriptions of all required documents to help you determine when a document is required and standardizes all the forms across all three program areas, i.e., load justification, EE disclosure form, etc. Having consistent forms in one place will ensure easy access to the most up-to-date CSI documents.

In addition to the CSI Document Matrix Web page, all forms can be found in a centralized location at Go Solar California and can also be accessed through PowerClerk's landing page under "Required Application Documents."


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Coming Soon: Solar Advantage Value Estimator

The California Energy Commission will "go live" with the Solar Advantage Value Estimator (SAVE) early this summer. SAVE is designed to allow the user to calculate the present value of a new or existing solar photovoltaic (PV) system based on the amount of energy saving produced. SAVE will be available as an online tool on the Go Solar, California! Web site and is tailored for use by home appraisers, realtors and others to assist in estimating PV system value.


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Solar PV Interconnection Reminder

As a reminder, all generating systems on a customer facility, such as solar, must receive authorization from the local utility to operate in parallel to the electric grid. Upon applying for a solar incentive through the CSI program, an Interconnection Application Form (the legal contract authorizing you to interconnect to the electric grid) should also be submitted to the respective utility's generation interconnection services department. Upon receiving the form with supporting documentation, such as a single-line diagram for your project, the utility can start the technical review process where the equipment is reviewed by staff engineers to assure the continued safety of customers and reliability of the electric grid. Applying early for interconnection will help prevent any unforeseen delays in the process and will ensure that the interconnection approval goes smoothly.

Please note that customers must not operate any generating facility in parallel with the utility distribution facilities until they receive written authorization. Unauthorized operation may result in personal injury, equipment damage or property damage for which the customer may be liable. We ask installers to communicate this message to all of your customers before leaving the site as this is very important and is a huge safety issue.

For individual utility interconnection application information visit: SCE, PG&E, SDG&E.


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CPUC to Host Free Webinar on Grid Reliability

Thur., May 5, 2011
10 am–11:30 am PST




GoToMeeting Instructions:
1. Join meeting online at
2. Or dial +1 (314) 627-1500
Access Code: 388-517-094
Audio PIN: Shown after joining the meeting
Meeting Password: sunwaveSan Diego
Click here for details.


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 SDG&E Service Territory by the California Center for Sustainable Energy

Workshops in PG&E Service Territory

Workshops in SCE Service Territory

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Call for Photos and Stories 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 and success stories 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 and stories.

  • 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 and stories here.

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CCSE | PG&E | SCE | © 2011 California Solar Initiative


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