CSI Program Evaluation 

The CSI Program Evaluation Plan describes the Commission’s structure and implementation strategy for the measurement and evaluation (M&E) of the California Solar Initiative. In addition to facilitating effective management of the CSI program, this CSI Program Evaluation Plan (Evaluation Plan or Plan) supports reporting requirements contained in relevant legislation and Commission decisions. The CSI Program Evaluation Plan and reporting process for the CSI program is consistent with: 
  • Requirements of Senate Bill (SB) 1 (Murray 2006);
  • Commission precedent on program evaluation of previous distributed generation programs;
  • Commission decisions in the Distributed Generation and CSI proceedings related to program evaluation; and
  • Commission decisions in Energy Efficiency proceedings related to evaluation.
Click here to access CSI Progress Reports analyzing the incremental growth of the various CSI programs, dating back to 2007.

Evaluation Plan 

The 2016 CSIProgram Evaluation Plan was updated on January 5, 2017. The updated Plan was developed by the CPUC's Energy Division in consultation with the CSI Program Administrators (PAs). The Plan is intended to help the Commission and the CSI PAs carry out the intent of the CSI program. The program’s impacts are independently evaluated, measured, and verified to provide reliable results for decision makers, resource planners, and program implementers.  

The Plan includes four main elements: 1) progress reports; 2) program evaluation reports; 3) annual program assessments, and 4) publication of program information through the California DG Stats website.

The 2016 updated Plan was preceded by the:

On February 4, 2014, CPUC President Peevey issued a ruling establishing the CSI-Thermal Program Measurement and Evaluation Plan.

Evaluation Studies 

A request for proposal (RFP) was issued on September 16, 2015 to solicit bids from independent contractors to conduct an evaluation of the CSI Research, Development, Demonstration, and Deployment (RDD&D) Program. 

Evaluation Reports

1. Net Energy Metering Cost/Benefit Study:  
  • In Compliance with Public Utility Code 2827, the first NEM Cost Effectiveness Evaluation report was published in January 2010. The analysis follows the cost-benefit methodology for the evaluation of distributed generation (DG) adopted by the CPUC in Decision D.09-08-026. The CPUC hosed a workshop in March 2010 to walk participants through the analysis and conclusions of the report.
  • Pursuant to AB 2514 (Bradford, 2012) and D.12-05-036 to evaluate “who benefits, and who bears the economic burden, if any, of the net energy metering program”, the second study on the costs and benefits of NEM to ratepayers was published in October 2013.
  • The E3 NEM Summary Public Model, Bill Calculator, and Avoided Cost Model, constructed by E3 to inform the various analyses included in the NEM study, are available for download.

2. PV Market Assessment Studies:  

In April and May of 2014, the CPUC released three studies that address the core question of how much the distributed generation PV market has been transformed, how much we expect it will be transformed after the CSI program’s market interventions, and how we will know. The studies included:

3. CSI Impact Evaluations:  

These studies CSI Impact Evaluations provide up to date information on the CSI program accomplishments, including energy, capacity, and environmental impacts, as well as PV system performance degradation.  

4. Impact of Distributed Energy: 

Assembly Bill (AB) 578 (Blakeslee, 2008) requires the CPUC to submit to the legislature a report on the impacts of distributed energy generation on California's transmission and distribution (T&D) systems.

  • The first report, published in January 2010, provides an overview of the current status of California's distributed energy generation resources and highlights some of the current challenges and activities around interconnecting these resources to the utility grid.
  • The second report, delivered in May 2013, shows that, while California’s solar distributed generation installed capacity is large compared to other states, the impact on the distribution and transmission infrastructures is relatively low.
  • The third report, delivered in January 2016, shows that solar power is effectively reducing summer peak net load, avoiding emissions, and reducing system costs during these hours. Given current daily load shapes, however, the ability of solar power to reduce peak net load further is limited. Additionally, solar power in California is reaching high enough penetration to reduce winter minimum net load.

5. CSI Financial Audit: 

CPUC audit staff completed the first CSI Financial Audit in 2010 covering program years 2007-2008. The 2008 CSI Evaluation Plan required an external audit be performed to track spending and performance for the Program Administrators approximately every two years, starting in 2009 and ending in 2015. Third-party financial audits provide transparency, enable the CPUC to meet its due diligence goals, as well as ensure that ratepayer funds are being managed prudently by PAs. The 2010-2011 CSI External Financial Audit was completed in May 2013. The audit did not identify any significant issues with administration of the program. The 2012-2014 CSI EFA was completed in July 2016. The audit did not identify any material instances of noncompliance and found the expenditures were in accordance with the program rules specified by the CPUC.

6. Cost Effectiveness Study:  

This CSI Cost Effectiveness study, completed in 2011, looked at cost effectiveness from several perspectives – program administrators, ratepayers, and in particular, program participants and society as a whole. Based on participant economics, the study suggested that the residential solar PV market will be self-sustaining by 2017, with a mixed outlook for non-residential customers.

7. Other CSI Evaluation Reports:

  • Utility/Program Administrator reports on using AMI for tracking rooftop solar generation (July 2012) (PG&E, SCE, CCSE/SDG&E): evaluate the feasibility of using advanced metering infrastructure data to make solar production data available to CSI participants.
  • Technical Potential for Local Distributed Photovoltaics in California: Preliminary Assessment (March 2012): a preliminary report to understand and to compare the costs and benefits of various distributed solar PV market segments, including residential rooftop, commercial rooftop, small ground mount, and larger ground mount (up to 20 megawatts). This study focuses narrowly on local distributed PV which is defined as distributed PV sized so that the power generated is entirely consumed on the distribution system to which it is interconnected.

8. CSI SASH and MASH Biennial Report:  

  • The first round of CSI SASH and MASH programs studies was completed in 2011. Reports are available on the both SASH and MASH pages.
  • The second round of CSI SASH and MASH programs studies for Program Years 2011-2013 was completed in January 2016.  Reports are available on the SASH and MASH pages.
9. CSI Thermal Performance Data, Impact, and Technology Project:  
  • In February 2015, the CPUC released a competitive solicitation to assess the performance of installed CSI thermal systems through metering and collecting data from solar water heating systems. The project will include the publishing of two Technology Evaluation Reports, which will assess the costs and benefits of various solar thermal technologies amongst different markets. The project will also include the publishing of two Impact Evaluation Reports, which will assess the CSI Thermal program’s impact on electricity and natural gas demand, effectiveness in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and will compare the actual performance of SWH systems against their expected performance.  

10. CSI Research, Development, Demonstration and Deployment (RD&D) Program:


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