A Decade of Support for Solar

The California Solar Initiative is part of the Go Solar California campaign and builds on 10 years of state solar rebates offered to customers in California's investor-owned utility territories: Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), Southern California Edison (SCE), and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E.) The California Solar Initiative is overseen by the California Public Utilities Commission .

Since 1998, rebates for small solar energy systems were managed under the Emerging Renewables Program (ERP) at the California Energy Commission. In 2001, a second program that covered rebates for larger systems--over 30 kW--was assigned to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) through the Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) .

In August 2004, Governor Schwarzenegger affirmed his support for solar energy, and announced the Million Solar Roofs program .

In January 2006, the CPUC collaborated with the Energy Commission to develop the framework of the California Solar Initiative Program through 2016.

In January 2007, the State of California launched Go Solar California, which included two new solar incentive programs, with slightly modified program requirements compared to the older programs. The Energy Commission provides incentives to energy efficient new home construction under the New Solar Homes Partnership . All other facilities in investor-owned utility territories receive rebates from the CPUC-administered program, the California Solar Initiative.

The new framework also included a major shift in the way solar incentives were calculated - away from a system that funded solar incentives based only on nameplate capacity and towards one where incentive levels are based on performance factors such as installation angle, tilt, and location. This performance framework ensures that California is generating clean solar energy and rewarding systems that can provide maximum solar generation.

The CPUC developed the program rules for the California Solar Initiative through a public rulemaking process . Among the major policy decisions made by the CPUC's rulemaking were how to organize and adjust the incentive levels, how to provide performance based incentives, how to require metering, and how to develop program rules in the form of a Program Handbook. The rulemaking also decided issues related to low income solar program development, marketing and outreach, research, development and demonstration (RD&D), program measurement and evaluation, and the Self Generation Incentive Program , which provides incentives to wind and fuel cells.

For information on the regulatory process governing the CSI proceeding, click here .

There is also more history of solar in California, available here .

Budget for the California Solar Initiative

The California Solar Initiative has a budget of $2,167 million (2007-2016) as detailed in this table:

Program Category Budget
($ Million)
General Market Program Subtotal $1,897
Direct Incentives to Consumers for PV and non-PV technologies $1,707
Program Administration, Marketing & Outreach, Evaluation (10%) $190
Low-Income Programs (10%) $217
Research, Development, Deployment and Demonstration (RD&D) $50
San Diego Solar Water Heating Pilot Program $2.6
Total California Solar Initiative Budget $2,167

The program components of the CPUC's California Solar Initiative have separate budget and administration plans. All budgets are for 10 years.

The Low-Income Single Family Program will be managed by Grid Alternatives and receives a budget of $108 million.

The The Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing (MASH) Program is managed by PG&E, SCE and CCSE (in SDG&E territory) and receives a budget of $108 million.

The Research, Development, Deployment, and Demonstration (RD&D) Program will have a single statewide Program Manager and a budget of $50 million.

The Solar Hot Water Heating Pilot Program is administered by the California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE) and has a budget of $2.6 million for 1.5 allocated for incentives.

California Solar Initiative

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