In This Issue
SCE Moves into Step 6 for Residential Solar Rebates
On March 4, Southern California Edison ( SCE) dropped to CSI Residential Step 6, with the incentive level of $1.10 per Watt. This closely followed the drop to Nonresidential Step 8 on Feb. 14. Since last May, SCE has experienced five step drops across the two customer segments.
Historically speaking, Program Administrators 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.
CSI-Thermal Handbook Changes Now Effective
On Feb. 28, the CPUC approved the "Proposed Amendments to the California Solar Initiative Thermal Program Handbook" filed via joint advice letter by the CSI-Thermal Program Administrators on Jan. 14. Cogenra Solar protested the proposed handbook on Feb. 2 and withdrew its protest on Feb. 25. The new handbook is effective immediately and can be found online by clicking here.
In October 2010, the CSI Nonresidential Program in San Diego Gas & Electric ( SDG&E) and Pacific Gas & Electric ( PG&E) territories exhausted their budgets. Consequently, the CSI-Thermal (solar water heating) Program's budget for electric-displacing commercial/multifamily projects has been exhausted because it shares the rebate budget for these projects with the CSI Nonresidential Program. This budgetary issue does not afect rebates in the Southern California Edison ( SCE) territory. It is important to note that this budget issue does not affect any of the following types of solar water heating project applications:
Further incentives for this program may be available if previously reserved projects drop out of the CSI Program. Program Administrators at the California Center for Sustainable Energy ( CCSE) and PG&E recommend that applicants continue to submit reservation requests to be included on the CCSE CSI Nonresidential Project waitlist and PG&E CSI Nonresidential Project waitlist. For more information regarding the interim waitlist process, please click here.
The Department of Energy ( DOE) and the California Public Utilities Commission ( CPUC) hosted the High Penetration Solar Forum, March 1–2, 2011, in San Diego to bring together industry experts to present on interim findings on demonstration and modeling projects simulating high penetrations of solar. These projects are funded through DOE's High Penetration Solar Deployment award or the California Solar Initiative Research, Development, Demonstration and Deployment solicitations.
Kevin Lynn, acting program manager for Systems Integration with DOE's Solar Energy Technologies Program, and Molly Sterkel, supervisor of the California Solar Initiative and Distributed Generation Section, welcomed more than 300 attendees, including over 100 who joined via webcast. "The Solar Program is pleased to see this group come together to address high penetration issues. This is an important step in determining how to integrate more solar on the grid in a safe, timely, and reliable way," Lynn said.
Lynn provided an overview of the DOE SunShot Initiative, which focuses on cost reductions in solar systems and aims to reach unsubsidized grid parity in residential and commercial solar by 2020. He also highlighted the important role that grid integration plays in achieving those goals.
CPUC Commissioner Michael Peevey presented the keynote speech and said: "I am excited to see the cooperation between California and the federal government . . . and appreciate the combined efforts to coordinate on the topic of integrating renewables."
In 2011, DOE and CPUC are partnering to address the technical challenges facing the industry in integrating high penetrations of solar energy into the grid. The goal is to make solar energy cost compatible with grid electricity and enable high penetrations of solar energy without subsidies in the U.S. electricity market.
Also at the meeting, DOE launched this Web site, the High Penetration Solar Portal, a new online destination for the utility community, high penetration project teams, national laboratories and other stakeholders to share results, information and expertise on grid integration. The site will inform participants on the impact of high penetrations of solar on distribution and transmission systems and help expand the utility solar market.
PG&E Hosts "Solar Noon" Webinar Series
Back by popular demand, Pacific Gas & Electric ( PG&E) is again presenting its "Solar Noon" webinar series every Tuesday and Friday from noon until 1:00 pm throughout 2011. These one-hour online presentations cover a range of solar and renewable energy-related topics from subject matter experts. Registration is not needed – users can simply log in from anywhere and listen either through a computer or phone. In addition to the webinars, PG&E also offers in-person classes at its training centers throughout its Northern California territory.
To learn more about all of the solar education opportunities available, please visit http://www.pge.com/solarclasses.
In February, the California Public Utilities Commission's Energy Division hosted a public workshop to consider the inclusion of nonwater heating and process heat technologies into the CSI-Thermal Program.
Topics of discussion included the development of installation standards and guidelines for these technologies and potential alternatives to the existing incentive calculation methodology, including performance-based incentives.
PG&E Interconnection Team Shines in the New Year
Pacific Gas & Electric ( PG&E) saw record numbers of net energy metering ( NEM) applications in 2010, receiving over 12,400 applications. This increase in volume demonstrates the growing interest in solar, however, it also created a bottleneck at the end of the year with over 1,300 interconnections in December alone.
PG&E has worked quickly to reduce that backlog and improve the turnaround time. In fact, they have announced that PG&E's NEM team has completed submitted interconnection applications and are now working through incomplete applications and continuing to streamline submissions.
Real experiences from real solar customers. Click here to send us your story and photos of your solar system,
San Diego Homeowner Installs His Own Solar System and Shares Helpful Tips
David Little, a San Diego homeowner, installed on his own 3.78 kW solar system. Before going solar, he decided it was time to get a new roof.
"This unexpected cost was worth it. Now I don't have worry about taking up the array to fix a leaky roof," he writes in the new Go Solar, California! feature, Solar Success Stories.
As for the inspection process, Little claims he worried about the wrong things when it came to receiving his rebate. "They [the CSI inspection professionals] came with some sophisticated measuring equipment and actually improved my rebate number a little bit."
To submit your solar story – and pictures of your beautiful solar array – click here.
Officials at La Costa Canyon High School in Carlsbad, Calif., switched on a 2 megawatt solar photovoltaic system constructed as a carport covering a student parking lot during ceremonies held in mid February. Students, school representatives and government and business officials attended the event, which included the presentation of a $4.7 million California Solar Initiative rebate check from the California Center for Sustainable Energy ( CCSE) to the San Dieguito Union High School District.
The system, installed by Chevron Energy Solutions will produce about 70 percent of the electricity required at two of the district's schools and is projected to save $10 million in energy savings over the life of the project. Total project cost was approximately $13 million, with the district receiving low-interest bonds available as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act as well as the CSI incentive. The project includes live data acquisition that monitors the system's performance as well as weather conditions, providing students with a better understanding of solar energy.
"We are proud to help the San Dieguito Union High School District generate cost savings by using solar power," said Jim Davis, president of Chevron Energy Solutions. "In addition to cost savings, the project also benefits the environment by using clean, renewable power."
The solar panels placed over the school's parking lot provide clean energy as well as offer shading to the cars parked underneath it. According to an article in the New York Times, solar carports have been installed at some 75 elementary, high school and community college campuses in California, the majority of them in the San Francisco area.
CSI-Thermal Program Incentivizes First Multifamily Projects in San Diego
The California Center for Sustainable Energy's CSI-Thermal Program has incentivized the first multifamily solar water heating projects in the San Diego Gas & Electric ( SDG&E) service territory. In total, seven solar water heating installations from two homeowners' associations (HOAs) received incentives.
The Mission Heights HOA installed 140 kilowatts of solar water heating systems on three buildings for an annual reduction of 6,614 therms of natural gas, earning an incentive of $72,523 from the CSI-Thermal Program. The Hill 'N Dale Townhomes HOA installed 151 kilowatts on four buildings for an annual reduction of 5,419 therms of natural gas, receiving an incentive of $69,471.
In early February, GRID Alternatives staff from across California met in Cathedral City in Riverside County for GRID Alternatives' first annual All-Staff Summit. The summit provided GRID Alternatives staff opportunities to exchange best practices, cross-train on various components of the Single-family Affordable Solar Homes ( SASH) Program and support the expansion of the SASH program in the Inland Empire region. Seventy GRID Alternatives staff and AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers serving at GRID Alternatives attended.
During the summit, the GRID Alternatives team, including administrative and installation staff, donned hard hats to install SASH Program PV-solar systems on five homes in Cathedral City. They installed 16.5 kW of solar electric energy that will save the homeowners an estimated $165,000 in electricity bills over the 30-year lifetimes of their solar systems.
Local community leaders, including Cathedral City Mayor Kathleen DeRosa, came out to see the installations in progress and to express support for the SASH Program and GRID Alternatives' work in their community. The installations not only created a positive impact for the homeowners and the broader community, but also spawned a valuable internal workforce development opportunity for GRID Alternatives.
The SASH Program provides higher incentives than the general market CSI program to low-income families to install solar. GRID Alternatives is a nonprofit solar installer and the statewide program administrator for the SASH Program. For further information, please visit their Web site or call (866) 921-4696.
Call for Photos of CSI-Funded Solar Systems