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About the California Solar Initiative

The California Solar Initiative (CSI) is overseen by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and provides incentives for solar system installations to customers of the state’s three investor-owned utilities (IOUs): Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), Southern California Edison (SCE) and San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E). The CSI Program provides upfront incentives for solar systems installed on existing residential homes, as well as existing and new commercial, industrial, government, non-profit, and agricultural properties within the service territories of the IOUs.

The CSI Program expanded state support for solar technology and is the product of Governor Schwarzenegger’s “Million Solar Roofs” vision for the State of California. The CSI Program was authorized by the CPUC through a number of regulatory decisions throughout 2006. In addition, the legislature expressly authorized the CPUC to create the California Solar Initiative in 2006 in Senate Bill 1 (Murray). When it launched in January 2007, the CSI Program built upon nearly 10 years of state support for solar, including other incentive programs such as the Emerging Renewables Program (ERP) and the Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP). Both programs still exist to provide incentives for other technologies but have been closed to new solar projects as of the end of 2006.

CSI Program Components

The CSI Program has a budget of $2.367 billion over 10 years, and the goal is to reach 1,940 MW of installed solar capacity by the end of 2016. The goal includes 1,750 MW of capacity from the general market program, as well as 190 MW of capacity from the low income programs. The CSI Program has five main components, each with its own program administration and 10 year budget:

  • The General Market program is the main incentive program component of the CSI, and is administered through three Program Administrators: PG&E, SCE, and California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE) in SDG&E territory.
  • A research and development (RD&D) program, providing grants to solar technologies that can advance the overall goals of the CSI Program; the RD&D program is administered through the RD&D Program Manager, Itron, and has a budget of $50 million.
  • The Single-family Solar Affordable Solar Housing (SASH) program, providing solar incentives to single family low income housing; the SASH program is administered through the SASH Program Manager, GRID Alternatives, and has a budget of $108 million.
  • The Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing (MASH) program, providing solar incentives to multifamily low income housing; the MASH program is administered through the same Program Administrators as the general market program: PG&E, SCE, and CCSE, and it has a budget of $108 million.

The CSI-Thermal Program, providing incentives for solar water heating and other solar thermal technologies to residential and commercial customers of PG&E, SCE, SoCal Gas, and SDG&E.

The CSI Program is a subset of the wider solar effort in California. In addition to the CPUC’s CSI Program, Senate Bill 1 envisioned that the State of California would also have other programs to support onsite solar projects, including the California Energy Commission’s New Solar Homes Partnership (NSHP), and a variety of solar programs offered through publicly owned utilities (POU). The statewide effort includes the CSI – as well as the NSHP and the POU programs – and it is known collectively as Go Solar California. The statewide goal of the Go Solar California campaign is 3,000 MW and there is a statewide budget of $3.5 billion.

Table 1. Go Solar California Campaign by Program Component, 2007-2016

Program Name

California Solar Initiative (CSI)

New Solar Homes Partnership (NSHP)

Various Names

Program Authority

California Public Utilities Commission

California Energy Commission

Publicly Owned Utilities


$2,367 million

$400 million

$784 million

Solar Goals (MW)

1,940 MW

360 MW

700 MW


All systems in IOU areas except new homes

New homes, IOU territories

All systems in POU areas


January 2007

January 2007

January 2008


Selected Important Decisions and Rulings

Decision 06-01-024: Interim Order Adopting Policies and Funding for the California Solar Initiative

Appendix to Decision 06-01-024

Decision 06-08-028: preliminary structure of the CSI Program

Decision 06-12-033: modification of CSI pursuant to SB 1

Decision 07-05-047: marketing plans for CSI

Decision 07-09-042: Establishment of RDD&D program

Appendix to Decision 07-09-042

Decision 07-11-045: establishment of SASH program

Decision 08-10-036: establishment of MASH program

Decision 10-01-022: establishment of CSI-Thermal program

Decision 10-04-017: modification of PG&E’s CSI collections

Decision 10-09-046: $40 million of M&E and unallocated budgets shifted to incentives

Decision 10-09-046 Appendix:  details of budget modifications

Decision 11-07-031: Phase 1 program modifications pursuant to Staff Proposal

Decision 11-12-019: budget and rebate adjustments pursuant to SB 585

Decision 12-08-008: increase of early stage CSI-Thermal incentives

Rulemaking 12-11-005: new CSI, SGIP, and DG proceeding

Decision 12-12-018: suspension of SDG&E’s CSI collections for 2013

Decision 13-02-018: incentives for new technologies


Decision 13-08-004: incentives for solar swimming pool heating


Decision 13-10-026: modification of CSI budgets


Decision 14-011-001: transfers data collecting responsibility to NEM


Decision 15-01-027 – Extension of SASH and MASH CSI Programs


Decision 15-01-035 - Increase of CSI-Thermal incentives and revisions to sub-program budgets


Launching the CSI Program

In 2005, the CPUC began developing the CSI program under Executive Order and later in 2006 under State law. First, the CPUC and California Energy Commission issued a joint report in June 2005 that developed an analysis of key issues related to development and implementation of the California Solar Initiative. The CPUC also opened Proceeding (R.) 06-03-004 to work with stakeholders to develop the program.

On December 15, 2005, the Commission issued D.05-12-044, an order that modified existing solar incentive levels and directed CPUC staff to provide recommendations on the program's design. On March 2, 2006, the CPUC opened Proceeding R0603004 to work with Parties through public comment to develop the program.

On January 12, 2006, the CPUC issued an Interim Order that set initial policy and funding for the program. The CPUC was nearing an August 24, 2006 Commission vote on proposed incentive level design, administrative structure, and planning schedule, when SB1 was signed into law on August 21, 2006. While SB 1 codified the state's commitment to the creation of a self-sustaining solar market, it also introduced several unanticipated requirements for the program. In order to conform to state law, the CPUC then worked with Parties to issue a proposed decision on SB1's impacts to the CSI program for public comment; this decision was approved by Commissioners on December 14, 2006.  The program launched on January 1, 2007.

The California Solar Initiative replaced two prior solar programs administered by the California Public Utilities Commission and the California Energy Commission through the end of 2006 (CSI started on January 1, 2007):


Last Modified: 8/26/2015

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