California Solar Initiative Has Helped Solar Grow By Leaps and Bounds in the State


A new CPUC report on the California Solar Initiative finds that utility customers in the state are continuing to install solar at increasing rates. Even as the program winds down, it remains the largest customer-side solar rebate program in the country.

Though the California Solar Initiative (CSI) is winding down, it’s made a huge difference for solar in the state. 

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) today said that Californians are continuing to harness the power of the sun, in part through the assistance of the CSI. The program helped customers install 620 MW of solar power in 2013, a growth of 73% over 2012.

In its 2014 Annual Program Assessment report issued this week, the CPUC gave some stats for the first quarter of 2014:

  • An estimated 2,139 MW of solar capacity was installed by electric customers.

  • Solar was installed at 227,141 customer sites in the large investor-owned utility service territories.

  • The California Solar Initiative General Market Program has installed 1,455 MW, or 83%, of its 1,750 MW program goal.

  • Another 225 MW, or 13% of the goal, is reserved in pending projects.



The CSI is the CPUC’s portion of a California solar effort begun in January 2007. At that time, the state established an unprecedented $3.3 fund to install 3,000 MW of new solar over the next decade and transform the market for solar energy by reducing the cost of solar generating equipment. It’s still the largest customer-side solar rebate program in the country, with a $2.2 billion budget and a goal of 1,940 MW of solar capacity by the end of 2016 for the general market and low-income solar programs.


Other highlights of the Program Assessment report:


  • PG&E and SDG&E territories have achieved the most installations in the non-residential  sector (commercial, industrial, government, non-profit, and agricultural properties), having met or nearly met 100% of their non-residential installation goals.

  • Single-Family Affordable Solar Homes program applicants have received or reserved a total of $77 million of the available $92 million incentive budget in support for their residential solar systems.

  • Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing applicants have received or reserved 100% of the available $95 million incentive budget.

  • In just over four years of operation, the CSI-Thermal program has approved 1,665 applications for $22.7 million in incentives of the available $205 million budget.

  • All but 163 MW, or 9%, of solar capacity interconnected to the grid in the three large investor-owned utility territories is signed up for Net Energy Metering.



“As incentives under the California Solar Initiative are sun-setting and solar adoption continues to grow on the customer side, it demonstrates the success of the program’s goal of market transformation,” said Edward Randolph, Director of the CPUC’s Energy Division. “Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric have reserved and installed enough solar capacity to reach their goals in the residential sector.”


A PDF of the report is available at the CPUC site, where weekly solar program data can also be found.