In this edition of the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) eNewsletter, you’ll find information on upcoming hearings and meetings, as well as the latest news from the CPUC.

 
 

Here are some ways the CPUC reached out to communities last month.  If you would like similar information, let us know!

Seniors Get to Know the CPUC

To offer assistance in these tough economic times, the CPUC organized presentations to the senior community throughout the state to raise awareness of programs such as California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE), Medical Baseline, and California LifeLine.  On June 10, 2009, the CPUC participated in the Wise & Healthy Aging Senior Action Fair in West Hills, where approximately 200 people received information on consumer programs. On June 12, 2009, the CPUC participated in Senior Scam Stopper, sponsored by the Contractors State License Board in conjunction with Assembly Member Tony Mendoza, 56th District, at the Cerritos Senior Center.  The event was attended by approximately 75 people who received information on how to lower their utility bills, slamming and cramming, low income energy and communication programs, and household goods information.

On June 23, 2009, the CPUC visited the City of Cypress Senior Center to discuss the CPUC’s consumer programs and offer information about some of the more common telephone scams. One of the attendees shared his experience with the Low Income Energy Efficiency program and had nothing but praise for the modifications done to his home and the resulting energy savings that he now enjoys through his lower utility bill.

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CPUC Reaches Out at Home Improvement Stores

On June 6 and 20, 2009, the CPUC delivered presentations at solar clinics held at home improvement stores in Modesto and Stockton. The CPUC provided an overview of the California Solar Initiative and the process of installing solar, as well as the need to practice energy efficiency in order to maximize the benefits of an installed solar system. Following the presentations, the CPUC answered questions. Attendees were particularly interested in energy efficiency tips and the ability to have utilities perform home energy audits.  The CPUC hopes to work with home improvement stores and other retail establishments throughout the state in order to reach more consumers and educate on the benefits of solar power, energy efficiency, and consumer programs.

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Community Fairs Offer Chance to Educate on CPUC Programs

On June 11, 2009, the CPUC participated in a Working Family Resource Fair held in San Diego and organized by Assembly Member Lori Saldaña, 76th District. Approximately 75 attendees received information on CPUC programs and services and on consumer scams involving telephone service.

On Wednesday June 12, 2009, the CPUC hosted a booth at the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) Conference and Business Fair at Moscone Center in San Francisco, which had more than 1,600 attendees. At the CPUC’s booth, attendees learned about utility and supplier diversity programs and the CPUC’s Small Business Program.

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Solar Program Approved for Edison

The CPUC, in its ongoing commitment to innovative programs and policies to advance the delivery of renewable energy, approved a solar photovoltaic program for Southern California Edison on June 18, 2009.

The program will result in the deployment of 500 megawatts (MW) of solar photovoltaic (PV) on existing commercial rooftops in Edison’s service territory. Edison will own, install, operate, and maintain 250 MW of solar PV projects, which will primarily consist of one to two MW rooftop systems. The remaining 250 MW will be installed, owned, and operated by independent, non-utility solar providers selected through a competitive process.

Prior to the CPUC’s decision, utility solar programs in the one to two MW range had limited participation in the California Solar Initiative or Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) program. Edison’s program creates a new avenue for developing such smaller sized solar projects.

Because this is the first significant foray by a utility into ownership of renewable generation, the CPUC will carefully monitor the program’s progress, examine ways in which the program can be improved, and fine tune the program when and where appropriate.

The energy generated from the project will be used to serve Edison’s retail customers and the output from these facilities will be counted towards Edison’s RPS goals. The output and capacity of the projects will not count towards the California Solar Initiative program goals.

The RPS program is one of the most ambitious renewable energy standards in the country. It requires investor-owned utilities to procure 20 percent of their electricity sales from renewable sources by 2010. Governor Schwarzenegger subsequently established an RPS target of 33 percent by 2020 for all retail sellers of electricity. The California Solar Initiative has a goal to install 3,000 MW of new customer solar projects by 2016, moving the state toward a cleaner energy future and helping lower the cost of solar systems for consumers.

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Outlook Sunny for the California Solar Initiative

CPUC staff issued its first annual program assessment report to the state legislature for the California Solar Initiative, the country’s largest solar incentive program.  The report details the progress of the program and its accomplishments to date.

In January 2007, California launched an unprecedented $3.3 billion program with the goal of installing 3,000 megawatts (MW) of new grid-connected solar in 10 years and transforming the market for solar energy by reducing its cost.  The CPUC portion of the solar effort is known as the California Solar Initiative, and has a $2.2 billion budget and a goal of installing 1,940 MW by the end of 2016. The report, which is required by the state legislature, highlights the following key findings:

  • California has over 500 MW of solar photovoltaic (PV) connected to the electric grid at customer sites; this is equivalent to one large power plant. With recent rapid growth, California now has over 515 MW of cumulative installed solar PV capacity at nearly 50,000 sites; 226 MW of this was installed in the past 2½ years under the California Solar Initiative.
  • The annual rate for new installed solar capacity in California nearly doubled in 2008 over 2007 (from 81 MW per year to 156 MW per year), a marked increase from the 30-40 percent annual growth rate of prior years.
  • Despite the challenging economic situation, installation data suggests that the California Solar Initiative could install at least the same amount of megawatts in 2009 as 2008, with 78 MW already installed through May 2009.
  • The program continues to see strong demand, with May 2009 the highest month on record for new solar applications. The California Solar Initiative has over 22,000 solar applications, including both pending and installed systems, which will account for an estimated 373 MW of new solar capacity.
  • After 2½ years, the California Solar Initiative has installed 13 percent of the total 10-year program goal, and it has another 8 percent in applications pending installation.

Since 2007, the CPUC has launched five program components of the California Solar Initiative, including the general market solar incentive program; a Research, Development, Demonstration, and Deployment program; a Solar Water Heating pilot program; and two low income programs - the Single-family Affordable Solar Homes Program and the Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing Program. The report presents status reports and accomplishments to date for all five.

The report also provides several suggestions on ways the legislature might further support the program and its underlying goals, including raising the net energy metering cap to enable additional customers to qualify for this feature, and expanding the low income housing eligibility requirements to increase the number of low income households that have access to solar technologies.

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Visit our Consumer Information Center for more assistance. Consumers with utility complaints can call our Consumer Affairs Branch at 1-800-649-7570.

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Produced by the CPUC's News and Public Information Office and Business and Community Outreach, 415-703-1366, news@cpuc.ca.gov
505 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco, CA 94102.
 

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