The California Public Utilities Commission ( CPUC) approved a new, eight-year program of incentives for solar water heating with funding of $350 million at its January 21 meeting.
Part of the California Solar Initiative, the program, called CSI Thermal, has a goal of an additional 200,000 Solar Thermal systems in California by 2018. The new program draws from the experiences of the previous CSI Solar Water Heating Pilot Program administered by CCSE, which was limited to residents in the SDG&E service territory.According to the California Air Resources Board, installing 200,000 solar hot water systems will reduce more than 100,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year. The program will also create green industry jobs throughout the state and promote other solar and energy-efficient technologies, according to CPUC officials.
Katrina Phruksukarn, CCSE’s program manager for CSI Thermal, said the new program provides residential customers who use natural gas rebates of up to $1,875 and up to $500,000 for commercial buildings and multifamily housing. Customers who use electric water heaters will receive smaller rebates – up to $1,262 for homes and $250,000 for commercial/multifamily – because they will realize savings sooner due to the high cost of electricity. The commission predicts the greatest potential for solar water heating market growth is in the lodging, health and restaurant sectors, Phruksukarn said.
Applications for homeowners will be available on May 1 and for commercial systems on June 1, however, rebates will apply to systems installed since July 15, 2009. The cost of fully installed residential solar water heating systems starts at $6,000 to $7,000, according to Phruksukarn. In addition to the rebates, there are federal tax credits available for up to 30 percent of system costs. A well-maintained solar energy system can last up to 30 years.
To learn more about the CSI Solar Thermal rebate program, call (877) 333-7947 or visit www.swh.energycenter.org. CCSE offers free workshops on solar water heating basics as well as solar photovoltaic ( PV) systems, energy efficiency and a wide range of other sustainability topics.
Source: Center for Sustainable energy, California
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