Customers and Communities

Solar and Distributed Generation



Amount PG&E has awarded for installed solar PV systems over the lifetime of the California Solar Initiative

PG&E has helped nearly 90,000 customers connect solar photovoltaic (PV) systems to the grid—more systems than any other utility in the country. This represents about one quarter of all rooftop solar installations in the United States.

With incentives for rooftop solar, solar water heating, fuel cells, wind and other advanced technologies, we are helping customers reduce their energy bills and their carbon footprint. We also continue to work with policymakers and other stakeholders to build a clean energy future that provides choices for our customers, helps maintain a reliable grid and is affordable for all customers.

California Solar Initiative

The California Solar Initiative (CSI) set a goal of 1,940 MW of new, customer-installed solar capacity in California by 2017. As one of the program administrators, PG&E is helping to make solar more affordable by offering incentives for residential and commercial customers.

SEPA logo
In 2013, for the fifth straight year, the Solar Electric Power Association named Pacific Gas and Electric Company first in the nation in its ranking of utilities with the most solar MW added to the grid.

The CSI program reserves 10 percent of the program budget for single- and multi-family affordable housing programs and also includes incentives for new energy-efficient homes that install solar. The incentives decline over time to encourage early adopters and stimulate the solar marketplace—and indeed, since the inception of the program in 2007, the cost of residential solar has dropped nearly 50 percent.

Additionally, PG&E’s Net Energy Metering (NEM) program gives customers the ability to reduce their electricity bills through credits for the energy their solar system exports to the grid. PG&E also compensates customers for energy their renewable system generates in excess of their consumption over a 12 month period.

In 2012, we interconnected more than 17,500 customer-owned solar PV systems to the electric grid, nearly 30 percent more than the prior year. PG&E also reserved more than $105 million in incentives, representing nearly 130 MW of planned residential and commercial solar installations. Over the lifetime of the CSI program, PG&E has awarded about $760 million for more than 610 MW of installed solar PV systems.

In addition, PG&E reserved more than $35 million in incentives for solar on new residential homes in 2012 through the New Solar Homes Partnership Program. These installations, spanning more than 3,000 homes, represent 17 MW of new solar capacity in PG&E’s service area.

2012 California Solar Initiative Applications by Program Administrator (Reserved*)

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

Annual PG&E Interconnected Customer Solar Systems

* The number of interconnected solar systems will likely surpass 90,000 in 2013.

Other Self-Generation Incentives

PG&E’s Self-Generation Incentive Program provides incentives for utility customers to implement other advanced on-site generation technologies, such as fuel cells, wind turbines, combustion engines and advanced energy storage systems. The goal of the program is to reduce peak load and greenhouse gas emissions for participating customers.

In 2012, the program received more than 375 applications, fully subscribing the funding for the year. These customer projects will install over 40.5 MW of generation with potential incentive payments of more than $52 million. The program can collect funds through 2014 and operate until 2016.

Solar Water Heating Program

Through the CSI-Thermal program, PG&E also provides rebates to residential, multifamily and commercial customers who install eligible solar water heating systems for their home or business. At the end of 2012, PG&E had paid more than $5.4 million in incentives over the life of the program.

In 2012, we launched a new offering that provides higher incentives to income-qualified single-family and multi-family properties that install solar water heating systems. The CSI-Thermal program will run through December 2017 or until the budget of $300 million is exhausted, whichever comes first.

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To raise awareness about solar water heating options, PG&E led a marketing campaign featuring TV commercials, radio ads, direct mailers and more.

Offering Education and Training

PG&E remains focused on raising customer awareness of solar power and other generation technology options. Activities last year included:

  • Offering a wide range of training opportunities on solar and other technologies for different audiences and education levels, both online and in the classroom. We held more than 80 solar classes last year with nearly 2,240 attendees.
  • Providing customers with a Solar Analysis tool to estimate the benefits of installing solar and a Solar Savings Kit with all the information needed to go solar.
  • Conducting workshops throughout our service area to educate solar water heating contractors about the CSI-Thermal program.

Looking to the Future

Customer-installed solar PV continues to grow significantly, in part due to new financing structures and significant reductions in system costs. In fact, a substantial number of PG&E’s solar customers are now installing solar without incentives from PG&E, indicating that the program has made great strides toward spurring a thriving solar market.

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Increasing numbers of PG&E customers are choosing to go solar.

PG&E continues to work to create more choices for customers looking for the most cost-effective way to generate their own power and save on energy costs. For example, an expanded CSI-Thermal Program is now also providing incentives for commercial solar pool heating, solar absorption chilling, solar process heating and solar space heating.

As we offer these programs, we believe it’s important to carefully manage the goals of safety, reliability and affordability when making clean energy choices. PG&E is committed to working with legislators, agencies and stakeholders to bring changes in rate design for greater fairness, efficiency, simplicity and choice, and in net energy metering to create a sustainable program for the future which mitigates cost shifts from participating and non-participating customers.

In addition, 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 be integrated with Smart Grid technologies and provide additional benefits to our customers.