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California Public Utilities Commission Streamlines Solar Program Requirements
The California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) yesterday approved changes to the California Solar Initiative Program Handbook to speed the application process for solar incentives in California. The California Solar Initiative¡¯s goal is to drive the installation of 3,000 megawatts of high-performing solar installations in the state over the next 10 years, moving the state toward a cleaner energy future.
In January, the new California Solar Initiative program launched and it introduced a number of requirements to obtain solar incentives in order to ensure meeting the state¡¯s quality and consumer protection goals. Since then, the PUC has been working closely with industry to identify program roll-out issues and solutions. The PUC is closely monitoring the start-up of the program to balance performance requirements against paperwork costs to system owners and installers.
Despite some early concerns from solar installers about the new solar incentive application, which the PUC is addressing today, demand for solar incentives is sharply up in 2007: the California Solar Initiative has received 2,790 applications from January to July, worth 131 megawatts and $406 million in rebate applications.
The streamlining changes approved yesterday were the result of feedback from the solar industry¡¯s early experience with the new program, which launched on January 1, 2007, and these changes are expected to further increase the demand for solar in California.
The PUC has simplified the California Solar Initiative application process in a number of ways, including removing all insurance requirements beyond those required for interconnection, waiving some documentation for smaller systems, and allowing self-installations to receive the California Solar Initiative incentive.
The PUC expects to release a revised California Solar Initiative Program Handbook with the changes in September onwww.GoSolarCalifornia.ca.gov and via the PUC California Solar Initiative Proceeding Service list.
"In developing the California Solar Initiative, we take very seriously our responsibility to ratepayers to ensure that their dollars are used wisely. This requires that we implement a program that holds installers and system owners to very high standards," said PUC President Michael R. Peevey. "We recognize that the simple and expedient payment of rebates is very important for the program, and we work with the solar industry to sharpen a process that can both protect the investment of ratepayers and provide significant financial incentives. The changes approved today are important for the program as we hope to maximize the California Solar Initiative's ability to facilitate a steady rise in the demand for solar over the next several years."

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