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The California Solar Initiative -- Triumph or Train Wreck?

Since its passage in August of 2006, the California Solar Initiative (CSI) has been touted as the best solar program in the U.S., and even one of the best in the world. Indeed, the $3 billion performance-based incentive program designed to bring 3,000 megawatts (MW) of solar to California over the next ten years is unprecedented in this country. However, while the CSI looks good in theory, the program has drastically slowed the residential and commercial markets in California and threatens to seriously damage the state's solar industry, according to a report released today from SunCentric Incorporated.

The authors of the report, SunCentric President Glenn Harris and Vice President Shannon Moynahan, have closely studied the CSI over the last eight months and put together this new report on how the program has impacted the California solar industry.

The authors' findings suggest that if the program continues down its current path, the state's solar industry faces an unsustainable future. The report identifies key problems in both the residential and commercial markets and offers solutions to fix those problems to ensure that the CSI is successful.

Excerpt from the Introduction

"The California Solar Initiative (CSI) program has completed its first eight months in business—and the results are in. Some of the early achievements of the program are impressive, like the 140 MW of non-residential reservations, the acceptance of performance based incentives by non-residential consumers and the rise of third party financial companies.

However, some of the results are extremely disappointing with only 14 MW of residential reservations issued and an ongoing, nightmarish transition for residential solar businesses to the CSI. Megawatts reserved don’t tell the whole story and are not the best indicator of the overall performance, or of the short term or long term outlook for the CSI. Watch the tracks ahead because we believe that in this version of the 'Little Engine That Could,' the engine might just run out of steam.

In our year to date review, we’ll show some of the early results for the CPUC’s CSI program and contrast these results to the previous programs. We’ll highlight the residential and non-residential programs, with an eye on not only the megawatts, but on the program’s achievement of some of these initial goals. We’ll also make a few predictions and some practical recommendations."

Download the 18-page report below.

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