In January 2006, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) launched the California Solar Initiative Program, which aims to provide incentives for solar energy projects in the state. It has a budget of more than $3 billion, with the objective of generating at least 3,000 megawatts of solar power by 2016.
The CPUC will oversee the solar programs for non-residential and existing residential projects. The CEC, on the other hand, will supervise the New Solar Homes Partnership program that will target the new construction market. The two programs are part of the state’s “Go Solar California,” which was created in the hopes of expanding the presence of photovoltaic energy across the state.
The California Solar Initiative is originally intended for clients of the state’s investor-owned utilities, but was expanded to include municipal utility territories because of Senate Bill 1. Municipal utilities are now required to give incentives, beginning in 2008.
The incentives for non-residential and existing homes are performance-based, with the goal of promoting effective system design and installation. The amount of the incentive is reduced through ten steps, based on the total capacity of the solar power system installed. You can view the updated solar incentive levels here.
Starting 2007, the expected performance-based buydowns for solar systems under 50kW is pegged at $2.50 per watt AC for commercial and residential systems. For government and non-profitable entities, the rate is $3.25 per watt AC. For systems 50 kW and higher, the performance-based incentive is $0.39 per kWh for the first five years. The buydown program is managed by the Southern California Edison (SCE), Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), and the California Center for Sustainable Energy.
The incentive levels go down as the capacity of the PV system increases. Incentives are given as a one time, upfront payment, and will be based on the expected performance of the solar system. The capacity will be calculated depending on the equipment rating and other factors, such as location, orientation, tilt, and shading.
Ten percent of the CSI Program’s budget is allocated for low-income solar incentive programs. As of March 2009, the single family low-income project is still in the works. On the other hand, SCE, PG&E and CCSE are accepting applications for the multi-family affordable solar housing (MASH) program. A single solar system used to power several electric accounts in the same building complex is entitled for said program.
For more information about the CSI, you can visit the following web sites:
Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E)
Web Site: www.pge.com/solar
Southern California Edison (SCE)
Web Site: www.sce.com/rebatesandsavings/CaliforniaSolarInitiative
California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE)
Web Site: www.energycenter.org
Disclaimer: This article does not constitute a source of a official legal or financial advice. While we attempt to represent all data as accurately as possible, we advice you to refer to official government websites, for the most accurate and up-to-date information.