Last October, the California Public Utility Commission approved the California Solar Initiative (CSI) Thermal Low-Income Program, which allocates $25 million to promote the installation of solar hot water systems on qualifying single-family and multifamily low-income residences throughout the Golden State. Now those rebates are up and running, and ready to be allocated to households that make the switch from natural gas to solar thermal.
Like all of the incentives available through the CSI, these rebates are only available to customers in the service territories of the state’s investor-owned utilities: Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), and Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas). Together with the New Solar Homes rebate program and rebate programs offered through the dozens of publicly owned utilities in the state, the CSI program is a key component of the Go Solar California campaign, which is aimed at bringing megawatts of solar to the state’s grid while reducing its dependence on fossil fuels overall.
Renewable Energy World reports that the new program ups the ante on California’s original two-year-old CSI Thermal rebate program, already perhaps the most generous solar water heating rebate program in the United States. It doubles the rebate available to individual homeowners on new solar thermal systems from $1,875 to $3,750. (The amount available to commercial customers who install solar thermal systems for multifamily housing will stay the same: $500,000.)
Actual incentive amounts are based on the expected output of the system as predicted by the Solar Rating and Certification Corporation’s rating and positioning (the current practice in the CSI-Thermal General Market program). Single-family, low-income solar hot water systems will be determined using the existing CSI-Thermal single-family calculator, and multifamily, low-income systems will use the CSI-Thermal multifamily calculator incentive levels decline in four steps as the program meets certain installation benchmarks.
More information on the updated program is available online.