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California Solar Initiative’s Incentive Program Explained

CA solar initiative

We Updated our California Incentive Page on 2/4/09. Click here to learn all about the California Solar Incentives you qualify for

The California Solar Initiative is one of two wings of the Schwarzenegger’s “Million Solar Roofs Program,” in which California has made a commitment to make 3000 megawatts of solar powered electricity by 2017. This particular half of the initiative deals with existing homes. For information about California solar incentives for new home construction check out New Solar Homes Partnership.

This program went live on January 1, 2007 with a few changes from the old incentive program (note, if you get solar, the installer usually hooks you up with this incentive themselves and they have all the information):

-Residential and commercial incentives will receive $2.50 per watt, however, this amount goes down over time as number of PV systems go up, so the money is hottest to get right now. Government and non-profit organizations will receive a higher incentive ($3.25 per watt) to compensate for their lack of access to the federal tax credit.

-Rebates changed to performance-based from capacity based, in order to encourage higher quality technology and installation.

-PV systems over 100KW get the monthly payments, and less than 100KW get a one time up front lump sum. (so… basically all homes go this second way. Well assume that since you’re already reading about solar power that you’re pretty conscientious about the environment… and so your home probably uses an average consumption of about 800 watts. That means you get $2000 up front from the state of California when you install your system. Plus you can sell your power back to the grid once you’ve got they system in place if you don’t use all of it.)

-In addition to the CSI credit you can also take a federal income tax deduction up to 30% of the cost of the equipment with a cap of $2000. You can further deduct for purchasing other energy efficient things like say, an energy star washing machine.

-You have to comply with a whole mess of stuff, which seems to change daily in their updates. Fortunately, they now have an online application, which takes care of a lot of the holes in knowledge about updates.

-Finally, don’t understand the difference between a watt, a kilowatt, and a whatt/hour? Read this.

Last modified: March 1, 2014

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