Solar Water Heating Incentive Program

Environment California

SACRAMENTO — This month, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) announced the creation of a new low-income solar water heating incentive program under the California Solar Initiative (CSI)-Thermal Program. The CSI-Thermal Program resulted from Assembly Bill 1407, authored by Assemblymember Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) and sponsored by Environment California in 2007, to create a 10-year, $250 million statewide incentive program to encourage the installation of 200,000 solar water heating systems in homes and businesses that offset natural gas usage for heating water.
The CPUC allocated $25 million of CSI-Thermal Program incentives to qualifying low-income single-family and multifamily residences throughout the state. The incentives will ease the financial burden on low-income customers who may otherwise not be able to participate in the program, and will help pass along the benefits of energy savings from solar water heaters to tenants in multifamily buildings.

“Virtually any building with a need for hot water and a roof exposed to the sun can take advantage of solar hot water, but less than one percent of California buildings have systems installed today. Solar power represents a significant energy resource for California,” said Assemblymember Huffman. “I applaud the CPUC for expanding the current solar water heater program to this important corner of the market. By expanding solar water heating, California can save homeowners and businesses money and reduce their total carbon footprint.”

Solar water heaters are an effective way for a home and business to become more energy efficient and, because they capture 87 percent of the sun’s heat, solar water heaters are extremely effective at reducing the use of fossil fuels, which are consumed by conventional water heaters. The CSI-Thermal Program promises to transform the market for solar water heating, helping make the technology mainstream, creating much needed jobs, and making energy efficiency and solar power more affordable for energy consumers.

“Solar hot water presents a golden opportunity for California to save energy and reduce pollution,” said Michelle Kinman, clean energy advocate for Environment California. “This new program is an important, concrete way to encourage a mainstream market for solar hot water, creating impressive environmental and economic benefits across the state.”

Incentives for qualifying single-family low income customers will be 200 percent of the applicable CSI-Thermal solar water heater incentive level, while incentives for qualifying multifamily affordable housing will be 150 percent of the applicable CSI-Thermal solar water heater incentive level.

Assemblymember Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) represents the 6th Assembly District, which encompasses southern Sonoma County and all of Marin County. First elected in 2006, Huffman chairs the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee and also serves as Co-Chair of the Legislative Environmental Caucus.
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