New CSI Report Shows Lagging Progress

The California Solar Initiative is continually hailed as the model solar program for the U.S. — a catalyst for the coming PV boom in the country. The program has undoubtedly increased solar installations in the California, but is it really on track to meet its objectives? Some say it’s not even close.

A new progress report from SunCentric Incorporated concludes that the program is not gaining the momentum needed to meet its target of 3,000 MW of installed capacity by 2016. Without serious changes to incentive structures, program administration and progress assessment, says the report’s author and SunCentric CEO Glenn Harris, the CSI could soon become obsolete.

This latest analysis contradicts the outlook and conclusions of January’s CSI progress report from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), which showed that California installed 158 MW under former California solar programs and the CSI in 2008. According to SunCentric, the CPUC is attempting to make the future outlook for the CSI much better than it is. SunCentric reports that through 2008 the CSI has completed only 105 MW of projects.

The figures from both organizations are much lower than the 600 MW of capacity that could have been expected by the end of the second year of the CSI program.

“The CSI is not helping the solar industry become self sufficient,” writes Harris. “On top of this discouraging performance, the CPUC has created and chosen ways to measure and report activity that inflates their…program’s accomplishments.”

In this latest report, SunCentric details the contradictions in reported installation numbers, problems with rapidly declining incentives and cumbersome issues with program requirements for solar companies.

“Unfortunately, the CSI is not living up to expectations. We need to recognize it and take action to correct it,” says Harris. “We need to learn from the lessons of the CSI and use this valuable information to design programs in California and the U.S. that result in real grid connected megawatts and build a growing, sustainable industry.”

To access the full CSI report from SunCentric, click here.

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