The California Solar Initiative’s indirect, nonincentive-based benefits have benefited California’s distributed generation solar market, in addition to the incentive based growth of the sector, according to a report from the California Center for Sustainable Energy.
With rebates from the California Solar Initiative for residential solar power set to end almost four years ahead of schedule, the CCSE report, Distributed Generation Solar in California: Framework for Policy and Regulatory Oversight in the Post-California Solar Initiative Era, outlines a framework for solar policies after the conclusion of the CSI program.
Among its suggestions, CSE is promoting the value of the Go Solar California! brand and website. The site is a joint endeavor of the California Energy Commission and the California Public Utilities Commission that provides consumer information on solar equipment, installation and costs as well as how to find a qualified solar contractor.
CCSE also cited the value associated with California Solar Statistics database on the installation and performance of the state’s solar systems that the group sees as a critical information source for policymakers, regulators, industry officials.
The report also warns that considerable work remains needed to assure consistent processes across districts and service territories with coordination at the statewide level. Complex, confusing, expensive and inconsistent permitting processes proved difficult for customers and installers to navigate, inhibiting greater adoption of solar technologies.
CCSE administers the CSI program for the California Public Utilities Commission in the San Diego Gas & Electric service territory. Rebates for both residential and commercial solar PV systems began in 2007 for a ten-year program of declining incentives, CCSE said.
In the San Diego region, the California Center for Sustainable Energy ran out of funding for residential PV systems in early 2013, however, rebates for commercial installations remain available although at rates 20 percent less than with the program began, CCSE said.
So far, the CSI program in San Diego has awarded more than $48 million in residential rebates and $108 million in nonresidential rebates for more than 127 megawatts of total solar generation capacity. Statewide, CSI has incentivized more than 1,544 megawatts of solar with about 200 megawatts remaining to reach the program’s goal to install 1,750 megawatts.