2. Background

In 2005 and 2006, the California Public Utilities Commission (Commission) and the California Energy Commission (CEC) collaborated to establish the CSI to fund rebates for installation of solar energy systems for customers of PG&E, SCE, and SDG&E. 2 (See Decision (D.) 06-01-024 and D.06-08-028.) In D.06-01-024, the Commission required that a minimum of 10% of program funds be applied to projects installed by low-income residential customers and affordable housing projects. (D.06-01-024, p. 27.) Shortly thereafter, the Legislature passed Senate Bill (SB) 13 and Assembly Bill (AB) 2723,4 both pertaining to solar incentive programs. SB 1 sets forth specific CSI program requirements regarding program budget, conditions for solar incentives and eligibility criteria, and AB 2723 codified the requirement that not less than 10% of overall CSI funds be used for installation of solar energy systems5 on "low-income residential housing," as defined in the bill.

Following passage of these bills, the Commission modified its earlier decisions to conform CSI to SB 1 and AB 2723. In so doing, the Commission adopted a 10-year CSI budget of $2.1668 billion, with 10% of that budget, or $216.68 million, dedicated to a low-income solar incentive program. (See D.06-12-033.)

In designing a low-income and affordable housing solar incentive program, the Commission opted to design a program for qualifying low-income single family homeowners separately from a program for multifamily affordable housing. The Commission's Energy Division staff issued a proposal in April 2007 for a solar incentive program for low-income homeowners. Following comments by parties on that proposal, the Commission issued D.07-11-045, which established a $108 million Low-Income Single Family (LISF) solar incentive program for low-income homeowners to provide partial, and in some cases, full subsidies for solar energy systems on existing owner-occupied low-income households.

With regard to multifamily affordable housing, the assigned Commissioner directed the CSI Program Administrators to develop a proposal for a solar incentive program.6 The Program Administrators' proposal was filed on July 16, 2007, and a workshop to discuss the proposal was held on August 15, 2007. After reviewing the Program Administrators' proposal, the Commission's Energy Division incorporated elements of it, plus additional research, into a new multifamily affordable housing Staff Proposal, which was issued for comment in a February 29, 2008 Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) ruling. The Energy Division held a workshop to discuss its proposal and answer questions from interested stakeholders and parties on March 17, 2008.

Comments on the Staff Proposal were filed on March 26, 2008 by A World Institute for a Sustainable Humanity (A WISH), Brobeck Solar Energy LLC (Brobeck), Californians for Renewable Energy (CARE), California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE), the Commission's Division of Ratepayer Advocates (DRA), jointly by Bay Area Local Initiatives Support Corporation and the Nonprofit Housing Association of Northern California (LISC/NHA), PG&E, SCE, SDG&E, and Sunfund Corporation (Sunfund). Reply comments were filed on April 4, 2008 by A WISH, CARE, CCSE, Global Green USA (Global Green), PG&E, jointly by the Solar Alliance and the California Solar Energy Industries Association (the "Joint Solar Parties"), SCE, and SDG&E. In addition, the Energy Division received correspondence from Marin Environmental Housing Collaborative, which has been included in the correspondence file of this proceeding.

The Staff Proposal and comments on specific issues within the proposal are discussed by issue in the sections that follow.

2 The Commission portion of CSI targets solar facilities on existing homes and new and existing businesses. The CEC portion of CSI is known as the New Solar Homes Partnership (NSHP) and targets solar installations in the new home construction market, including solar on newly constructed low-income housing.

3 Chapter 132, Statutes of 2006.

4 Chapter 864, Statutes of 2006.

5 AB 2723 set forth a definition of a "solar energy system," codified in Pub. Util. Code § 2852, as a "solar energy device that has the primary purpose of providing for the collection and distribution of solar energy for the generation of electricity, that produces at least one kilowatt, and except for a solar energy device for a nonprofit building, produces not more than five megawatts, alternating current rated peak electricity, and that meets or exceeds the eligibility criteria established by the [CEC]."

6 See R.06-03-004, "Assigned Commissioner Ruling," February 5, 2007.

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