In This Issue
The CPUC has established a low-income California Solar Initiative (CSI)-Thermal Program, with $25 million in incentives to support the installation of gas-displacing solar water heating systems on qualifying low-income single-family and multifamily residences. The program is preparing to launch in early January 2012.
"This program will help ease the financial burden on low-income customers who may otherwise not be able to participate in the program," said CPUC President Michael R. Peevey.
Incentives for qualifying single-family, low-income customers will be 200 percent of the applicable CSI-Thermal solar water heater incentive level, while incentives for qualifying multifamily affordable housing will be 150 percent.The same Program Administrators that administer the gas-displacing portion of the general market CSI-Thermal Program, namely PG&E, SoCalGas and the California Center for Sustainable Energy, will administer the program. To read the decision, click here.
At its November 10 business meeting, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved two decision modifications related to the California Solar Initiative (CSI) Thermal Program.
The first modification allows the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials to certify solar water heating systems to Solar Rating and Certification Corporation (SRCC) standards, as required by Public Utilities Code 2864 and established a process for the CSI Thermal Program Administrators to consider requests for acceptance of SRCC certification performed by additional entities.The second decision established incentives to solar water heating systems (SWH) that displace propane usage for electric customers of PG&E, SCE and SDG&E. Incentive levels for systems displacing propane are set at the same level as the current CSI-Thermal incentives to electric-displacing SWH systems.
The Pacific Power California Solar Incentive Program, launched July 1, 2011, and covering Pacific Power’s five-county Northern California territory, has been moving forward at a fast pace with the residential incentive rate in Step 2 ($1.50/watt) and the nonresidential incentive rate at Step 5 ($0.63/watt).
The program has already filled up the 10% capacity set-aside for tax-exempt entities, who receive slightly higher incentives to compensate for their ineligibility for solar tax breaks. Now tax-exempt groups are eligible for the regular commercial incentive rates.There are a total of 260 kW of residential solar projects reserved, amounting to $466,274 in incentives with 14 projects completed. Currently, there are 43.5 kW remaining in Step 2 before the incentives move to the Step 3 levels ($1.13/watt). For nonresidential projects, there are 1.5 MW reserved totaling $1.9 million in incentives, and at this time there are 108 kW remaining in Step 5 for nonresidential projects before the move to Step 6 ($0.47/watt). Overall, the program has reserved 1.7 MW of its 3.5 MW goal. Please visit PPCSIP for more details.
The Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) recently announced the winners of their 2011 Solar Business Achievement Awards, honoring Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) for Utility Community Outreach and Public Awareness. PG&E was recognized for its achievements through the California Solar Initiative and its corporate environmental activities to educate the public in its service territory about solar energy and its value. These efforts included a variety of consumer education activities, solar education, collaborations with local governments, community involvement and sponsorships, marketing materials, and consumer advertising and promotion. Congratulations to all the stakeholders who contributed to these outreach efforts!
With two other solar PV systems already installed, San Diego State University recently celebrated the completion of an additional 355-kW system. At the ceremony held in October, Irene Stillings, executive director of the California Center for Sustainability, presented a California Solar Initiative check for $749,163 to SDSU President Elliot Hirshman and Associated Students President Cody Barbo.
This system is expected to offset more than 50 percent of the energy used at the Aztec Student Union and is part of wide array of sustainability initiatives being coordinated by the Green Love Sustainability Advisory Board at SDSU. The completion of this system brings the total campus solar PV generation capacity to over 500 kW, with an additional 250-kW system planned for installation on the campus recreation center.
In October, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) celebrated its 50,000th net energy metering interconnection by recognizing the Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties for installing a 322-kilowatt PV system at its San Jose facility. PG&E continues to generate more solar electricity than any other utility in the nation, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.
In addition to receiving incentives through the California Solar Initiative, the Second Harvest Food Bank has saved more than $60,000 in electric costs in the six months since the installation was completed. This translates to more food for its communities — approximately 120,000 more meals. In 25 years, the solar system is expected to save the food bank over $3 million or about 6 million meals!
To commemorate the occasion, PG&E’s Solar Team volunteered time sorting food at the San Jose food bank. In addition, David Rubin, director of PG&E’s Customer Energy Services, presented a $10,000 community grant check and a plaque honoring Second Harvest and CEO Kathy Jackson.“Second Harvest Food Bank provides much needed services to thousands of families,” Rubin said. “The leadership Second Harvest has shown demonstrates a commitment to the environment that we wholeheartedly share at PG&E.”
In addition to putting photovoltaic (PV) systems on the rooftops of low-income homes statewide, the Single-family Affordable Solar Home (SASH) Program also supports development of solar businesses. Some of the volunteers who participate in SASH installations opt to increase their knowledge and skills by joining the “Team Leader Program” conducted by GRID Alternatives, SASH Program Managers.
Sean Taylor of Sebastopol, Calif., is a former GRID team leader who started his own solar installation company, Taylor Energy Systems. Taylor came to GRID Alternatives with a construction background and a passion for renewable energy. His experience volunteering with GRID encouraged him to “get serious about the solar industry.”
In the past few years, Taylor has overseen the development of his business and does both the designing and installing of PV systems for residential customers throughout Northern California. He says he takes particular pride in being able to create additional employment opportunities for others and to hire trainees from local community college solar programs.
The CSI program and GRID Alternatives salute Taylor for coming full circle — from being a job trainee a few years ago to being an employer today who can offer jobs to others in a successful solar business.To learn how you can get involved as a volunteer or team leader for SASH installations, contact GRID Alternatives.
Adroit Solar of San Diego installed a free solar water heating system to homeowner Jennifer Medina as the winner of a drawing held during the California Center for Sustainable Energy’s Sustainable Energy Week 2010.Adroit Solar installed a donated system from Schuco Solar that should offset the homeowner’s water heating costs by approximately 70% per year while also increasing their property value and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions and nonrenewable fossil fuel consumption, according to a CCSE spokesperson.
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