In This Issue
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved of a resolution on April 19 that will make it more cost-effective for solar systems to be installed on multitenant and multi-meter properties. Known as Virtual Net Metering (VNM), this new billing arrangement allows the utilities to issue bill credits for the energy produced by a renewable generating system to other tenants in the building. This resolution was the final step in a lengthy stakeholder process to implement VNM, a part of the Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing program that was expanded by the commission to the general market sector in a decision last year.
In the past, regulations had made it nearly impossible to install a single solar or renewable energy system that could offset multiple meters, which meant that renters and businesses with leased spaces were essentially excluded from going solar.
VNM allows multitenant and multimeter properties to install a single generation system, such as solar, wind or fuel cells, to cover the electricity load of both common area and tenant meters, thereby avoiding the need to connect individual distributed generation systems to each meter, which is often cost-prohibitive or technically impossible.
The CPUC's expansion of VNM is a significant development in the growing market for distributed generation and will be available to customers later this summer.
On May 2, the California Center for Sustainable Energy reserved enough megawatts to meet the goals of CSI Residential Step 9 and dropped to Step 10, the final step of the CSI program. The rebate amount decreased from $0.25 per watt to $0.20 per watt.
Applicants are encouraged to notify CSI Program Administrators (PAs) of any applications that need to be canceled so any unused megawatts can be made available for other projects.
There is typically a significant increase in the number of application submissions as step changes approach. Please keep in mind that applications are processed in the order received. You can monitor the remaining megawatts in each step of the program across all three utility territories on the Trigger Tracker website.
Thanks in part to the California Solar Initiative, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) and Southern California Edison (SCE) placed in the top 10 utilities with the most interconnected solar. For the fourth year in a row, PG&E led the way in 1st place with nearly 288 MWs of solar in its service territory and SCE ranked 4th with over 138 MW of solar. This is evidence that the solar industry continues to thrive as more and more customers in California are adapting solar.
PG&E helped more than 12,000 customers in Northern and Central California connect 162 megawatts (MW) of solar at their homes and business in 2011, bringing the total number of customer solar installations to more than 63,000.
"PG&E is pleased to support our customers' choice to go solar so they can realize the benefits of solar energy for their homes and businesses," said Helen Burt, senior vice president of customer care. "We remain committed to providing our customers with clean, reliable and affordable energy, including an increasing amount of power from large utility-driven solar projects."
Attention contractors! The California Solar Initiative (CSI) Program Administrators (PAs) are receiving many applications with solar installation contracts that do not meet requirements established by the Contractors State License Board (CSLB).
All applicants, contractors and solar installers are reminded that anyone in California who contracts for a home improvement valued at $500 or more (labor and materials) must be licensed by the CSLB. This also applies to third-party leasing and power purchase agreement (PPA) arrangements where the contractor is different from the lease or PPA provider. Additionally, please keep the following requirements in mind.
For all questions regarding the CSLB requirements, visit www.cslb.ca.gov or call 800-321-CSLB (2752).
The CSI-Thermal statewide marketing campaign is off and running, and early indicators suggest it is generating great interest among customers and the media across the state. In the first two weeks of the campaign, more than 44,000 unique visitors accessed the new website, www.WaterHeatedByTheSun.com.
Launched in mid-April, the campaign is using a multifaceted marketing strategy across multiple media platforms to promote solar water heating and the CSI-Thermal rebate program.
The campaign theme — "Solar Water Heating: The Next Step in Your Green Routine" — began with a high-profile 30-second TV commercial that has been airing in key markets statewide. Simultaneously, Internet banner ads began appearing on targeted websites and a press release was distributed throughout the state to alert the news media.
TV news segments aired on KCRA-TV and KMAX-TV in Sacramento, KNSD-TV in San Diego and KION-TV in Monterey that featured solar water heating and the CSI-Thermal program. The Los Angeles Daily News published a feature article on the topic that also ran in the Torrance Daily Breeze and the Long Beach Press-Telegram.
Radio ads were added to the mix in early May, and print ads soon will begin appearing in targeted trade publications aimed at business customers.
PG&E's MASH Track 1 Program will be reopening and begin accepting new applications starting on Monday, May 14, 2012. All new applications must be submitted through PowerClerk (www.powerclerk.com), the online database which provides Applicants the ability to electronically submit supporting documents by scanning and attaching PDFs. You will be notified within a few weeks of the status of your application and an application fee will then be due. SCE continues to accept new applications for the MASH program. Funding is limited so customers are encouraged to act now. CCSE's MASH program currently has a waitlist of $2.8 million and is not accepting new applications at this time.
The Mash Program Administrators applaud the affordable housing communities' effort for their partnership in completing MASH projects to bring more solar to customers. The MASH program benefit more and more affordable tenant accounts and we look forward to working with each of you to bring even more solar to our communities.
For more information, please visit your program administrator's website:
As the solar industry continues to grow, an increasing number of installers are exposed to on-the-job accidents that include falling – a hazard that can cause injury or death. The California Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) program has recently released a short video produced by the California Department of Public Health about factors that led to a tragic solar workplace fatality.
Hans Petersen, a 30-year-old solar panel installer, died on the job when he stepped backwards off an apartment building roof and fell 45 feet. With the help of the Petersen family, the FACE program is working to increase awareness of the safety hazards for solar installers by providing a real-life story of the human impact this type of tragedy can have and presenting fall prevention recommendations.
The FACE program is reaching out to the solar community to bring awareness of the significant dangers that exist in the workplace, hoping to convince workers of the importance of safety precautions when on the job.
FACE encourages solar installation and construction companies to include the video as part of their safety training programs.
Floricel Martinez couldn't believe it when someone from GRID Alternatives came to her Self-Help Enterprises community in Madera, Calif., and told a group of families that they all qualified for the Single-family Affordable Solar Housing rebate program.
"I had seen other homes in Fresno with solar panels before, and I would tell my husband 'Look! What if we could have solar panels?'" she said. Floricel and her husband work seasonal agricultural jobs picking cherries and grapes to support their two sons. "We always wanted solar panels, but we never thought we'd be able to afford them."
On Saturday, April 21, the family was able to go solar when volunteers and job trainees from GRID Alternatives installed a solar photovoltaic system for the Martinezes and eight other families in the community. The families, who had worked together to build their own homes as part of Self-Help Enterprises' affordable home ownership scheme, all pitched in, making food, providing water and shade, and getting up on the roofs themselves — a real community effort.
The Martinez family's 14-panel system will save them $30,186 over the lifetime of the system and prevent 102 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Floricel hopes to use some of the savings to take her boys on trips to local mountains, among their favorite things to do.
Todd Paternoster (center), head of training for National Solar Trainers, shows Whab Ashoor (checkered shirt) and others how to correctly place solar collector mounting brackets during a 4-day solar water heating course in San Diego offered by the California Center for Sustainable Energy during April.
Call for Photos and Stories of CSI-Funded Solar Systems
Submit your CSI-funded solar system photos and stories here.
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California Public Utilities Commission
505 Van Ness Ave.
San Francisco, California 94102