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by Jeralyn

How to go Solar with CSI

Schwarzenegger-Solar-Panel-RoofI know what you’re thinking… “Boy, do I wish I could afford solar! It’s too bad that it’s so expensive.” Actually, PV module prices have decreased by 80% since 2008. California has also been providing consumers with incentives to help fund their solar projects. Many of these rebates stem from the California Solar Initiative (CSI) Program. The CSI Program is essentially a product of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “Million Solar Roofs” vision for a cleaner, more sustainable California.

Supervised by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), Community-SolarCalifornia is working towards a goal of creating 1,940 megawatts of new, solar-produced electricity by 2016. Of the 1,940 megawatts produced, a 1,750 megawatt cap will be from the general market (which is energy administered from investor-owned utilities like PG&E, SCE, and the California Center for Sustainable Energy in SDG&E territory). The remaining 190 megawatts will come from low-income programs. The CSI Program offers other program components that make solar projects more manageable. These offers include the Single-Family Affordable Solar Homes (SASH) Programs and the Multi-Family Affordable Solar Housing (MASH) Program. Lastly, the California Energy Commission (CEC) is joining the fun and providing their own project, the New Solar Homes Partnership (NSHP), to help support CSI.

The overarching mission of SASH is to provide incentives for qualifying single-family households who invest in solar. SASH offers fully or highly subsidized 1-kilowatt solar systems for eligible low-income homeowners! To qualify for a fully subsidized system, your household income must be at or below 50% of the area median income and receive electric service from an investor-owned utility. If your household income is less than 80% of the area median income, you may qualify for a highly subsidized solar system.

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CSI Incentive Chart

The MASH Program goes hand-in-hand with SASH and provides affordable solar systems for multi-family residences. There are two different types of incentives for MASH clients: Track 1a (PV System Offsetting Common Area Load) or Track 1b (PV System Offsetting Tenant Load). Track 1A is a fixed, upfront capacity-based incentive for PV systems which offsets common area and tenant loads at $1.90 per watt. Track 1B offers a direct benefit for tenants because the savings obtained from solar are shared with the tenants.

With today’s environmentally conscious public, the demand for solar homes is on the rise. NSHP motivates homebuilders to effectively utilize resources and incorporate more energy efficient upgrades, delivering the public what it wants! Efficient homes coupled with cheaper electricity…what’s not to like? Along with CSI, the NSHP Program aims to reduce non-renewable energy dependence by producing 360 megawatts of solar energy by 2016.

Currently, CSI rebates have been exhausted in PG&E service territory but there are still plenty of other incentives for customers wanting to go solar. These still include the Federal Investment Tax Credit (30% of system cost). There are many ways to lower the cost of your solar project, you just have to do a little bit of research. Or you could just read this since I’ve done most of it for you! Call today to learn about the rebates in your area and how easy it is to go solar.

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