California Exhausts Rooftop Solar Incentive Fund

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Inspired by the signing of SB 1, former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Million Solar Roofs initiative, the state of California managed to add a whopping 3,000 megawatts of solar energy to rooftops since 2006.

It was good news. In fact, it was too good, because now the state is declaring a moratorium on rebates for non-residential rooftops, according to DSIRE, a database of solar incentives (at the state and federal level) which also publishes relevant solar energy news.

Called CSI (the California Solar Initiative), this means business and industrial customers in both Pacific Gas & Electric’s (PG&E’s) territory and San Diego Gas & Electric’s service area will not receive rebates.

The program offered tiered rebates, descending in value depending on system size, and also for each year the program was in service, depending on how many kilowatts of rooftop solar energy were installed at the time. Now, only Southern California Edison has enough funding left, and the fewest kilowatts installed, to continue offering the program to business customers.

The good news is that two utility-service areas of California have met their quotas, or goals, for the amount of non-residential rooftop solar energy installed. The bad news is, for those customers in overserved areas, the program is ending five years early, instead of 2016, when the CSI was originally slated to expire.

The program also covered (covers) rooftop solar space heating, and rooftop solar hot water (solar thermal applications), and it seems a shame that a program which did so much good, and inspired so much clean, renewable energy, must now pull the plug for having reached its goal.

Fortunately, even with the recent mid-term elections, California is still in the hands of the tree huggers, so the rebates may well be extended, as they were in 2010. We hope so. It seems a shame to penalize people for doing it right.

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