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Solar Incentives for Commercial Rooftops Are Used-Up Early in California

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The good news is Californians are adding 3 Gigawatts of solar to the grid from rooftops in record time. The bad news is that some of their incentives are consequently running out early.

Since 2006, the California Solar Initiative (CSI) has offered rebates for solar installations, both residential and non-residential, that step down over time.

But the budget ceiling has now just been hit for all non-residential rooftops, according to DSIRE, for Pacific Gas & Electricity and San Diego Gas & Electric customers, and the 10 year solar incentives program will end five years early, instead of in 2016, for these customers. Only Southern California Edison still has non-residential incentives left.

In 2006, with the signing of SB 1, then-Governor Schwarzenegger’s Million Solar Roofs Initiative,  CSI budgeted $3.2 billion to supply 3 Gigawatts of solar to the California grid off of California rooftops in ten years, by 2016, disbursing the rebates through the largest California electric utilities, PG&E and SDG&E, and SCE.

All solar projects are eligible, but with different rates, limits, and steps for residential, commercial and governmental. (Public schools, non-profits or churches, for example, that are not eligible to take a Federal tax credit, get higher rebates.)

The program covers not only PV, but solar for space heating, and rooftop solar thermal used to provide hot water, radiant heat or air conditioning, as long as the technology can meet the requirements of the very thoroughly tested CEC list of eligible solar equipment.

For all the non-residential applicants in PG&E and SDG&E territories, which includes commercial and industrial and governmental and non-profit customers, this ends the popular rebate program. In case some projects drop out, both utilities are accepting some new applications on a waiting list.

Last year, a similar cut-off was threatened in residential rooftop solar projects. The previous limit of “2.5 % of peak power demand” ceiling was in danger of being exceeded, by rooftop solar. After passionate lobbying by solar groups, the limit was raised to allow up to 5% of peak power demand be met by homeowners’ rooftop solar installations.

The commercial program was to have run till 2016. Instead, all the non-residential solar incentives have run out in two of the three main utility districts.

Will there be a last minute save? I am usually contacted before these kinds of dire events by groups like the NRDC or SEIA or Solar Nation. But I have not heard anything about this from them. Have you?

Image: Solar Server

Susan Kraemer@Twitter

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writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today and Renewable Energy World.  She has also been published at Wind Energy Update, Solar Plaza, Earthtechling PV-Insider , and GreenProphet, Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow, and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design, Susan brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention, solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci-fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times.    Follow Susan on Twitter @dotcommodity.


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