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California Public Utilities Commission
505 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco

Contact: Terrie Prosper, 415.703.1366,
news@cpuc.ca.gov Docket #: R.08-03-008


SAN FRANCISCO, January 21, 2010 - The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) today established a California Solar Initiative (CSI) Thermal Program to provide incentives to promote the installation of solar water heating systems in new and existing homes and businesses in the territories of Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas and Electric Company (SDG&E), and Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas).

The goals of the CSI Thermal Program are to:

"Today's decision will increase consumer confidence and understanding of solar water heating technology and its benefits," said CPUC President Michael R. Peevey. "We've structured the incentives so they are based on the performance of solar water heating systems in order to promote the adoption of high-performing systems."

Incentives are as follows:

Natural Gas Displacing Incentives:


Incentive for Average Residential Solar Water Heating System

Incentive per
Therm Displaced













Electric Displacing Incentives:

Step Level

Electric Displacing Incentive


Incentive for Average Residential System













The program will run for 8 years, until December 31, 2017, or until the program funds are exhausted, whichever occurs first.

"The dispersion of solar heating systems can play an important role as we strive to achieve the goal of zero net energy in residential and commercial buildings by 2020 and 2030 respectively, as outlined in the California Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan," said Commissioner Dian M. Grueneich. "These systems can be cost-effective for ratepayers, while helping to displace both electricity and natural gas usage in new and existing homes and businesses. Thus a focused, cost-effective program to improve the market for this technology can serve as a key step in our path to zero net energy."

Added Commissioner John A. Bohn, "Solar water heating is an important part of California's solar initiative. The people of California consider this an important policy goal, and this program should move forward."

The CSI Thermal Program will be funded by $250 million in collections from natural gas ratepayers, pursuant to Assembly Bill (AB) 1470, as well as up to $100.8 million in funds already authorized and currently being collected through the general market CSI photovoltaic program and earmarked in Senate Bill 1 for solar thermal projects such as solar water heating. Monies collected under AB 1470 from natural gas ratepayers will fund incentives to solar water heating systems that displace natural gas usage, while funds collected through CSI from electric ratepayers will fund electric displacing solar water heating systems.

Per AB 1470, 10 percent of the natural gas-displacing program budget, or $25 million, is set aside for incentives to low income customers. There is no set-aside for a low income program for electric-displacing solar water heating as only 10 percent of California homes use electricity to heat water.

The CSI Thermal Program will be administered by PG&E, Edison, SoCalGas, and by the California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE) in the SDG&E territory. PG&E and SDG&E, in coordination CCSE, will disburse incentives to both electric and natural gas ratepayers who install eligible solar water heating systems in their territories. Edison will disburse incentives through the CSI Thermal Program to customers who install electric displacing solar water heating systems. SoCalGas will disburse incentives to customers in its territory who install natural gas displacing solar water heating systems.

For more information on the CPUC, please visit www.cpuc.ca.gov.


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