State may start solar-incentive program

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGift Box shows no rust in San Antonio Stakes win at Santa Anita The CPUC will generate money for the rebates through an extra charge on customers’ utility bills, which could run around 50 cents per month, according to estimates by Environment California. The California Solar Initiative will only apply to customers in Santa Clarita, the Antelope Valley, Simi Valley and others served by investor-owned utilities, such as Southern California Edison, which are regulated by the Public Utilities Commission. The program includes $350 million to encourage builders to include solar panels in new residential construction, which could bolster the use of sun-generated electricity in new subdivisions in the Santa Clarita and Antelope valleys. That’s five times more incentive money than the state has budgeted for in the past, said Bob Raymer, technical director of the California Building Industry Association. “Before you put (solar) as a standard feature and market it, you want to make sure that rebate money is available,” he explained. “This gives the building industry the comfort level that they can begin offering solar as a standard feature.” Los Angeles, Burbank and Glendale customers get their power from city-owned utilities, which are not regulated by the PUC and not part of the statewide solar initiative. However, the Department of Water and Power is planning an overhaul of its solar-incentive program this year. In 2003, the department had to freeze its program because demand outpaced the funding available and has now offered the incentive to all the customers on its waiting list. Now the city pays $3.50 per watt, which can mean a financial incentive of $10,500 to install solar on a single-family house. The department is considering restructuring the way it doles out the money and possibly increasing the incentive amount, said Gary Gero, DWP director of energy efficiency and renewable solutions. The DWP pays for the solar program through its public-benefits fund, and the department has a goal of developing 10 megawatts of electricity, which is enough to power 2,500 homes. “If you have lots of little power plants around the city, it decreases congestion, particularly in the summertime,” when air conditioners create a huge demand on the city’s energy supply, Gero said. Kerry Cavanaugh, (818) 713-3746 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! The California Public Utilities Commission is poised to finalize today a $3.2 billion incentive program to encourage residents and businesses to install solar panels and generate their own power. If approved, a typical home installing solar panels this year could get a $7,000 rebate. That would reduce the average cost of a system to $13,000. The state’s goal is to install 1 million rooftop solar systems before the rebate program phases out in 2016. There are roughly 15,000 systems in the state currently. “We can get ourselves out of the boutique niche that solar has occupied, the Malibu millionaire and backwoods hippie that used solar. It’s getting more mainstream,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro of Environment California, which has pushed for the solar initiative. last_img read more