Tag: "puc"

09/28/11

  02:07:00 pm, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 391 words  
Categories: Solar Economics, SCE/CSI Rebates, Commercial Solar, Residential Solar

Cost Caps Coming to CSI

We have previously noted some pretty outlandish outliers in the cost of installing solar power systems in California, but now that is going to change. Under SB 585 (Kehoe D-39) that was just signed into law, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has 90 days to establish and impose cost caps on residential and non-residential solar installations for the California Solar Initiative (CSI). From our perspective that cannot come a moment too soon.

Senator Kehoe’s bill started out as an urgency measure to refund the CSI program which had exhausted its available funding for projects in PG&E and SDG&E territories.  The bill still does that, directing an additional $200 million into the program and that is a very good thing.  But what we like every bit as much is the amendment that was added in the State Assembly which provides for the following:

Within 90 days of the enactment of this act, the Public Utilities Commission shall establish and impose project cost caps for residential and nonresidential projects under the California Solar Initiative, based on national and state installed cost data.

We believe that this is an important, and long overdue consumer protection feature for CSI and we hope that other rebating entities such as LADWP and PWP will also adopt such caps.

Why is this so important?  Well, take a look again at this chart that we prepared from the CSI data for the first half of this year showing the reported installed costs for the largest solar installers in the CSI program:

The range here is striking, even shocking.  At the low end you see an installed cost of $6.56/Watt, ranging all the way up to an outlandish $13.32/Watt!  And that price is an average over hundreds of installations by Galkos Construction.  If the PUC were to establish a hard cap for residential installations of, say, $10/Watt and if that cap had been in place during the first half of the year, the customers of Galkos Construction would have saved $2.97 million - or on average, $7,618 each!

Wow!

The cap, of course, should be lower than $10/Watt.  We sincerely hope that the PUC will look closely at the abuses evident in the CSI data and put some teeth into this new law.  Only then will potential solar clients be protected from the predatory actions of the few outliers that needlessly inflate costs to pad their pockets.

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Jim Jenal is the Founder & CEO of Run on Sun, Pasadena's premier installer and integrator of top-of-the-line solar power installations.
Run on Sun also offers solar consulting services, working with consumers, utilities, and municipalities to help them make solar power affordable and reliable.

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