The California Solar Initiative (CSI) is the solar rebate program for California consumers that are customers of the investor-owned utilities - Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), Southern California Edison (SCE), San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E). Both PG&E and SCE administer the CSI program in their own service territories, while the California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE) is the CSI Program Administrator for SDG&E. Together with the rebate program for New Solar Homes Partnership and rebate programs offered through the dozens of publicly owned utilities in the state - the CSI program is a key component of the Go Solar California campaign for California.
The CSI program was designed to help existing businesses, public agencies and homeowners: 1) lower their energy costs, 2) reduce reliance on fossil fuel-fed power plants and 3) create a sustainable energy future by using solar technology. In January 2006, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) collaborated with the California Energy Commission (CEC) to develop the framework of the California Solar Initiative Program (CSI) to establish “a self-sufficient solar industry in which solar energy is a viable mainstream energy option for homes and businesses in 10 years.”
The CSI program has a total budget of $2.367 billion between 2007 and 2016 and a goal to install approximately 1,940 MW of new solar generation capacity. The CSI-Thermal portion of the program has a total budget of $250 million between 2010 and 2017, and a goal to install 200,000 new solar hot water systems. The CSI program is funded by electric ratepayers and the CSI-Thermal portion of the program is funded by gas ratepayers. The CSI program is overseen by the California Public Utilities Commission and rebates are offered through the Program Administrators: PG&E, SCE, and the California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE) in the SDG&E territory.
The CSI program is comprised of the following rebate programs:
- A solar rebate program for customers in PG&E, SCE, and SDG&E territories. This program funds solar on existing homes, and new or existing commercial, agricultural, government and non-profit buildings. This program funds both solar photovoltaics (PV), as well as other solar thermal generating technologies. This program is sometimes referred to as the CSI general market program.
- A solar hot water rebate program for customers in PG&E, SCE, and SDG&E territories. This program funds solar hot water (solar thermal systems) on homes and businesses. This program is called the CSI-Thermal Program.
- A solar rebate program for low-income residents that own their own single-family home and meet a variety of income and housing eligibility criteria. This program is called the Single-family Affordable Solar Homes (SASH) program.
- A solar rebate program for multifamily affordable housing. This program is called the Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing (MASH) program.
- A solar grant program to fund grants for research, development, demonstration and deployment (RD&D) of solar technologies. This program is the CSI RD&D program.
For more information on the history of the California Solar Initiative and other rebate programs in California, please visit gosolarcalifornia.com.
The California Solar Initiative pays solar consumers their incentive either all-at-once for smaller systems, or over the course of five years, for larger systems. The program's two incentive payment types are: