Solar and Other Distributed Generation

More than 45,000 PG&E customers have solar photovoltaic systems connected to the electric grid.

PG&E plays an important role in assisting customers who choose to integrate solar and other alternative energy sources at their homes and businesses.

By administering the California Solar Initiative (CSI), PG&E is helping to achieve California’s goal to create 3,000 MW of new, customer-installed solar capacity by December 2016, moving the state toward a cleaner energy future and helping to lower the cost of solar installations for customers. Other incentives for solar water heating, fuel cells and wind systems give PG&E a full offering of customer distributed generation programs.

California Solar Initiative

In 2010, we interconnected more than 10,000 customer-owned solar photovoltaic (PV) systems to the electric grid. This brought our total to more than 45,000 interconnected solar systems at the end of 2010, more than any other utility in the United States. In fact, these customers represent roughly 35 percent of the country's solar installations, while PG&E serves about 5 percent of the U.S. population.

Through CSI, PG&E is helping to make solar more affordable for residential and commercial customers via rebates funded by a distribution charge in customer rates. The rebate amounts have declined over time to provide an incentive for customers to participate early and adjust to the evolving solar marketplace.

Last year, PG&E paid and reserved $103 million in rebates for 218 MW of both installed and currently active residential and commercial solar installations. Our customers accounted for more than half of the total customer applications to reserve CSI funding for residential and commercial solar projects.

Through the program, PG&E has the potential to provide more than $760 million in solar rebates to our customers over a 10-year period. Through 2010, PG&E awarded approximately $411.6 million for 220 MW of installed solar PV. We continue to work collaboratively with regulators, the other program administrators and key industry stakeholders on options to ensure the goals of the program can be met.

2010 California Solar Initiative Applications by Program Administrator

* Refers to customer applications to reserve California Solar Initiative funding for residential and commercial solar projects.

Annual PG&E Interconnected Customer Solar Systems

Other Self-Generation Incentives

PG&E’s Self-Generation Incentive Program complements CSI by providing incentives for new, qualifying fuel cells or wind self-generation systems. Through this program, PG&E received more than 100 new applications for over 42 MW and $130 million in rebates in 2010. With the passage of Senate Bill 412 in 2009, PG&E is working collaboratively to include additional technologies into the program such as combined heat and power systems in 2011.

Solar Water Heating Program

PG&E launched a solar water heating program in 2010, providing rebates to residential, multifamily and commercial customers who install eligible solar water heating systems in their home or business. The program is designed to:

  1. Significantly increase the size of the solar water heating market in California by encouraging customer adoption of the technology;
  2. Help reduce the cost of these systems by driving increased market size, efficiency and innovation;
  3. Raise consumer confidence and understanding of the technology and its benefits; and
  4. Help reduce barriers, such as high permitting costs, lack of access to information and lack of trained installers.

Although participation has been modest during the program’s start-up phase, PG&E is working to help customers realize the value of this technology and allocate $300 million in customer incentives available over eight years. As with the existing CSI program, the rebate amounts will decline over time to provide an incentive for customers to participate early.

Offering Training

PG&E continues to educate customers on distributed generation technologies with an emphasis on solar. We held more than 160 classes last year with over 3,500 people in attendance. These classes were a mix of classroom and online training and continue to be open to the public and held at no cost to attendees.

We offer a comprehensive suite of training and education options for customers, contractors and others interested in solar-related topics and the CSI programs. Our website features an overview of these classes, along with the corresponding training materials.

Our goal for these classes and webinars is to continue to educate contractors and customers on the many distributed generation programs we offer, help them make the right choices for their energy needs and spur adoption of self-generation systems.

Earning Recognition

For the second straight year, PG&E topped the Solar Electric Power Association’s (SEPA) list of utilities with the most solar MW added to the grid. The ranking was based on 2009 data. SEPA also recognized PG&E with the “Solar Portfolio Leadership” award for advancing solar technologies, both large-scale solar power plants and small-scale distributed customer-owned solar photovoltaic systems. Additionally, the organization named Peter Darbee, former Chairman of the Board, CEO and President of PG&E Corporation, as the “CEO of the Year” for his leadership on climate change and renewable energy issues.

On the Horizon for 2011

PG&E continues to encourage customers to invest in more cost-effective energy efficiency measures that complement distributed generation. This includes requiring customers to conduct an energy efficiency audit before applying for CSI incentive funding. As technologies become more advanced, we are exploring how solar and other distributed generation can integrate into the Smart Grid and provide additional benefits to our customers.


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