Archive for the ‘Utility Incentives’ Category

Highlights of San Diego’s Solar Energy Week Conference Yesterday

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

San Diego’s Solar Energy Week Conference yesterday was well worth the trip down to sunny San Diego.  Held at the Mission Valley Marriott the conference is in its sixth year and attendance was high.


San Diego is leading the country in photovoltaic installations both residential and commercial.

Programs to watch:

P.A.C.E., Property Assessed Clean Energy, which is a bond where the proceeds that help commercial and residential property owners to finance energy efficiency improvements including photovoltaic installations.

AB-920: The California Solar Surplus Act of 2009.  This bill seeks to provide solar system owners to fair market value for the excess solar energy they generate each year.  Currently any excess solar energy generated each year is essentially given away to the utility which can then turn around and sell this energy at the full retail rate.

California Solar Initiative: The CSI incentive level for commercial and residential PV retrofits is currently at Step 5 which sets the incentive payment at $1.55 per watt.  This will shortly move to Step 6 which reduces the incentive payment to $1.10 per watt.

For new construction which use a different program, the New Solar Home Initiative, the incentive level is $2.50 per watt. A great website for statistics on photovoltaic installations in California Search by city, county, demographics.

Photovoltaic Incentives, Step by Step

Friday, June 12th, 2009

If you are interested in participating in the California Solar Initiative you are required to follow the compliance steps carefully in order to qualify for the incentives.  A big mistake is waiting until the project is far along in the construction process before contacting your utility about their PV incentives.  This can result in your application being rejected.  In order to receive the substantial financial incentives it is critical that you contact your utility while the project is in the design stage.  Below are links to compliance checklists for either residential or commercial incentive applications.  These explain each step of the process.

New construction with photovoltaic

Existing projects being upgraded with photovoltaic

Database of PV installers, contractors, and retailers

For example a new home with a PV system seeking Tier II incentives the project must:

1. Pass a plan review analysis to ensure that the home exceeds Title-24 compliance by at least 35% and also that the Title-24 is an accurate representation of the construction plans.  More often than not, the Title-24 and the plans do not match.  So to start the process the utility will need:

a. A signed hard copy of the Title-24 compliance report prepared, signed and stamped by a CEPE or CEA.

b. The Title-24 input file in either mp7 or BLD format

c. A complete set of architectural plans, preferably sent electronically.

2.  Once the project passes plan review, this is the ideal time to hire a certified HERS rater who will perform a variety of energy efficiency verifications involving detailed on-site verifications of the insulation, window and door sizes, HVAC system efficiencies, Title-24 mandatory measures, actually everything that is called out on the CF-1R and all the Mandatory Measures.  These verifications can involve numerous visits to the job-site and coordination with the various involved trades.  For example the insulation verification will need to be performed after the insulation has been installed but before the drywall.  After the PV system is installed this HERS PV rater will perform the final PV inspection on-site.

3. At this point, the applicant can submit a completed Reservation/Application package to reserve the NSHP incentive funds.

4. Once the incentive funds are reserved, the applicant should work with the builder and HERS to coordinate the energy efficiency and PV verifications.

5. Once the CF-4R and CF-4R-PV are created by the HERS rater they are uploaded to either the CHEERS or CalCerts database and copies are sent to the utility then the applicant can request the incentive payment by submitting a payment claim package.

All these on-site building efficiency verification inspections are a prerequisite before the project can qualify for the PV incentive.  Once these are completed then the HERS PV rater will verify the installation of the PV system.  This ensures that the PV solar system and its installation are consistent with the estimated performance that the incentives are based on.

The actual performance of the PV system varies considerably depending on the actual installed equipment (PV modules, inverter, etc), the actual location, the actual physical orientation of the panels (azimuth, tilt) and very importantly, the shading on the PV array.  Trees, chimneys, adjacent buildings, even nearby power lines can seriously degrade the performance of an otherwise efficient PV system.  All these on-site variables will need to be verified by a certified HERS PV rater as part of the utility PV incentive application process.

We are state certified CEPE/CEA and HERS PV raters.  If you are working on a project and are considering installing a PV system please contact us for details about the NSHP incentive requirements and how we can help you qualify.

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