CPUC Launches Solar Thermal Incentive Program

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has established a California Solar Initiative (CSI) Thermal Program to provide incentives to promote the installation of solar water heating systems in new and existing homes and businesses in the territories of Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E), Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas and Electric Co. (SDG&E) and Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas).

The goals of the CSI Thermal Program are as follows:

  • Significantly increase the size of the solar water heating market in California by increasing the adoption rate of solar water heating technologies;
  • Support reductions in the cost of solar water heating systems of at least 16% through a program that increases market size and encourages cost reductions through market efficiency and innovation; and
  • Engage in market facilitation activities to reduce market barriers to solar water heating adoption, such as high permitting costs, lack of access to information and lack of trained installers.

Forty percent of the incentive budget is reserved for single-family residential systems, while 60% is allocated to commercial and multifamily systems. The incentives are paid up front based on the estimated first-year therms displaced, and incentives decline in four steps based on program participation.

The CSI Thermal Program will be funded by $250 million in collections from natural-gas ratepayers, pursuant to Assembly Bill 1470, as well as up to $100.8 million in funds already authorized and currently being collected through the general market CSI photovoltaic program and earmarked in Senate Bill 1 for solar thermal projects. Funds collected under A.B.1470 from natural-gas ratepayers will fund incentives to solar water heating systems that displace natural-gas usage, while funds collected through CSI from electric ratepayers will fund electric displacing solar water heating systems.

The program will be administered by PG&E, Edison, SoCalGas and the California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE) in the SDG&E territory. PG&E and SDG&E, in coordination CCSE, will disburse incentives to both electric and natural-gas ratepayers who install eligible solar water heating systems in their territories. Edison will disburse incentives to customers who install electric displacing solar water heating systems, and SoCalGas will disburse incentives to customers in its territory who install natural-gas displacing solar water heating systems.

The program will run until Dec. 31, 2017, or until the program funds are exhausted – whichever occurs first.

For more information, visit www.cpuc.ca.gov.

SOURCE: California Public Utilities Commission

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