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Distributed Generation in California

The CPUC regulates distributed generation policies and programs on both the customer and utility (wholesale) side of the electric meter.  Customer-side of the meter distributed generation incentive programs include the California Solar Initiative and the Self-Generation Incentive Program. These programs are supported by the CPUC's oversight of Net Energy Metering and Interconnection policies. On the utility side of the meter, utilities procure distributed generation resources through a variety of procurement programs, including the Renewable Portfolio Standard program, including competitive solicitations, feed-in tariffs, and utility solar programs, as well as the small combined heat and power (CHP) tariffs.

Customer-Side Distributed Generation

The CPUC oversees two incentive programs for customer-side of the meter distributed generation, also called "onsite generation" or "self generation", for customers in the territories of Pacific Gas & Electric, San Diego Gas & Electric, and Southern California Edison.  The California Energy Commission oversees related incentive programs.

The CPUC Distributed Generation Programs

  • California Solar Initiative - California’s electric utility customers receive upfront incentives when they install solar electric systems on homes, businesses and public sites under the California Solar Initiative.  California's electric and gas customers receive incentives when they install solar thermal, also known as solar hot water, systems under the California Solar Initiative's CSI-Thermal Program
  • Self-Generation Incentive Program - California's electric utility customers receive incentives when they install eligible distributed energy resources including: energy storage devices, wind turbines, fuel cells, combined heat power generators, pressure reduction turbines, and waste heat capture applications. 
  • Net Energy Metering tariffs enable customers to generate energy that offsets their electric load at retail rates.

California Energy Commission's Distributed Generation Programs

  • New Solar Homes Programs - Solar incentives for new residential construction are offered through the Energy Commission's New Solar Homes Program, a sister program to the CPUC's California Solar Initiative.

Utility Side (Wholesale) Distributed Generation

The CPUC oversees a variety of policies and programs related to procurement of utility-side of the meter distributed generation, also called "wholesale" or "system-side generation" because it is intended to net export onto the electrical system side of the customer's electrical meter. These programs are available for power plants, including customer-owned generators, in the territories of Pacific Gas & Electric, San Diego Gas & Electric, and Southern California Edison, and in some cases the smaller and multijurisdictional utilities, such as PacifiCorp or Sierra Pacific.

CPUC Policies in Support of Distributed Generation


Last Modified: 6/12/2015

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