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Additional About Go Solar California Information

History of Go Solar, California!

Senate Bill 1 (Murray, 2006) envisioned that the State of California would have two programs to support onsite solar projects, the California Energy Commission's New Solar Homes Partnership (NSHP) and the California Public Utilities Commission's California Solar Initiative. In addition, there would be a variety of solar programs offered through publicly owned utilities (POU).

The statewide effort is known collectively as Go Solar California and it is based on the "Million Solar Roofs" vision for the State of California. The statewide goal of the Go Solar California campaign is 3,000 MW and there is a statewide budget of $3.3 billion. The CSI Program is a subset of the wider solar effort in California.

Table 1. Go Solar California Campaign by Program Component, 2007-2016

Program Name California Solar Initiative (CSI) New Solar Homes Partnership (NSHP) Various Names
Program Authority California Public Utilities Commission California Energy Commission Publicly Owned Utilities
Budget $2,367 million $400 million $784 million
Solar Goals (MW) 1,940 MW 360 MW 700 MW
Scope All systems in IOU areas except new homes New homes, IOU territories All systems in POU areas
Began January 2007 January 2007 January 2008

A Decade of Support for Solar

The Go Solar California campaign and builds on 10 years of state solar rebates offered to customers in California's investor-owned utility territories: Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), Southern California Edison (SCE), and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E.)

Since 1998, rebates for small solar energy systems were managed under the Emerging Renewables Program (ERP) at the California Energy Commission. In 2001, a second program that covered rebates for larger systems--over 30 kW--was assigned to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) through the Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP).

In August 2004, Governor Schwarzenegger affirmed his support for solar energy, and announced the Million Solar Roofs program.

In January 2006, the CPUC collaborated with the Energy Commission to develop the framework of the California Solar Initiative Program through 2016.

In January 2007, the State of California launched Go Solar California, which included two new solar incentive programs, with slightly modified program requirements compared to the older programs. The Energy Commission provides incentives to energy efficient new home construction under the New Solar Homes Partnership. All other facilities in investor-owned utility territories receive rebates from the CPUC-administered program, the California Solar Initiative.

The new framework also included a major shift in the way solar incentives were calculated - away from a system that funded solar incentives based only on nameplate capacity and towards one where incentive levels are based on performance factors such as installation angle, tilt, and location. This performance framework ensures that California is generating clean solar energy and rewarding systems that can provide maximum solar generation.

The CPUC developed the program rules for the California Solar Initiative through a public rulemaking process. Among the major policy decisions made by the CPUC's rulemaking were how to organize and adjust the incentive levels, how to provide performance based incentives, how to require metering, and how to develop program rules in the form of a Program Handbook. The rulemaking also decided issues related to low income solar program development, marketing and outreach, research, development and demonstration (RD&D), program measurement and evaluation, and the Self Generation Incentive Program, which provides incentives to wind and fuel cells.

Budget for the California Solar Initiative

The California Solar Initiative has a budget of $2,167 million (2007-2016) as detailed in this table:

Program Category Budget
($ Million)
General Market Program Subtotal $1,897
Direct Incentives to Consumers for PV and non-PV technologies $1,707
Program Administration, Marketing & Outreach, Evaluation (10%) $190
Low-Income Programs (10%) $217
Research, Development, Deployment and Demonstration (RD&D) $50
San Diego Solar Water Heating Pilot Program $2.6
Total California Solar Initiative Budget $2,167

The program components of the CPUC's California Solar Initiative have separate budget and administration plans. All budgets are for 10 years.

The Single-family Affordable Solar Homes (SASH) Program will be managed by GRID Alternatives and receives a budget of $108 million.

The Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing (MASH) Program is managed by PG&E, SCE and CCSE (in SDG&E territory) and receives a budget of $108 million.

The Research, Development, Deployment, and Demonstration (RD&D) Program will have a single statewide Program Manager and a budget of $50 million.

The Solar Hot Water Heating Pilot Program was administered by the California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE) and had a budget of $2.6 million for 1.5 allocated for incentives.

More information on the regulatory process governing the CSI proceeding is available on the CPUC website.

Go Solar California Website

At the Solar Power 2006 Conference and Expo in San Jose on October 19th, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger unveiled "Go Solar California," a website that provides complete information on all the solar programs available in the state.

"The website - - has everything you need to participate in our $2.8 billion incentive program so everyone who wants to can go solar," said Governor Schwarzenegger.

Go Solar California! is a one-stop website that provides general information on solar technologies as well as specifics about solar installations on new and existing homes, schools, public buildings, and affordable housing projects. The website, a collaboration between the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and the California Energy Commission, makes it easy for residential and commercial power users to apply for state rebates and provides information on federal tax credits.

"I am pleased that the Governor launched the new Go Solar California website," said then-Energy Commission Chairman Jackalyne Pfannenstiel. "Providing incentives to new home homebuilders who provide a solar system option will help to create a self-sustaining market. As an added benefit, these new solar homes will be even more energy efficient then the state's standards, ensuring that the homeowner is receiving value and reducing their overall energy bills."

"The GoSolarCalifornia website reinforces the state's commitment to solar power," said PUC President Michael R. Peevey. "California leads the nation in aggressive policies that promote renewable power and decrease greenhouse gas emissions. The state is offering nearly $3 billion in incentives for consumers and businesses to invest in solar power. Go Solar California offers tools and information to streamline the solar process and educate on the benefits of this renewable resource."

Go Solar California enables consumers to have access to all information related to solar energy, how they can easily apply for state rebates specific to their location and utility, and information on federal tax credits. The website provides information for solar programs for new and existing home owners, schools, public buildings, and affordable housing projects.

The website has gone through two major updates since 2006. An update to content and navigation was completed in April 2008. A major make-over to the current version was begun in the fall of 2009 and completed in May 2010.