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Successful "California Solar Initiative" Rebate Program Nearly Complete

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 27, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- A state program that provides rebates for the installation of solar systems will soon end after funds allocated for the incentive were gobbled by California energy customers.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) reported Monday that the allotment of residential rebates in PG&E and SDG&E territories under the statewide California Solar Initiative (CSI) rebate program have been fulfilled.

Solar advocates say that the end of the program is a sign of success, noting that the completion of this major $2.2 billion state incentive program marks a new phase of solar market maturity, with low and middle income households now driving solar energy's growth in California.

"This is a major milestone for solar," says Susannah Churchill, Policy Advocate at Vote Solar. "The California Solar Initiative was designed to do something remarkable: achieve scale and lower costs to make rooftop solar a real and growing part of the state's energy landscape. Supported by smart policy, the solar industry has given Californians a cost-effective alternative to buying power from the grid."

Churchill says lower prices are the driving force behind a record number of installations and predicts that California energy consumers will continue to invest in solar without the rebates because it makes economic sense.

"Now that our state has successfully built this new energy industry, it's increasingly important that we make sure energy consumers can continue to choose solar without unnecessary red tape or utility barriers," says Churchill. "All Californians benefit from more rooftop solar."

Launched in 2007, the CSI provides incentives for solar system installations to customers of the state's three major utilities: Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), Southern California Edison (SCE) and San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E). The program was designed to automatically reduce the incentive level in ten "steps" based on target amounts of solar capacity in each utility service territory. As the solar market grew and achieved new economies of scale, the incentive levels dropped predictably down these steps, from $2.50 per watt to $0.20.

PG&E has completed the tenth and final step for both residential and commercial rebates, although some continued funding is expected to be made available to replace program dropouts. SDG&E has completed the final step of its residential program and is in the eighth step of its commercial program. And SCE is close behind in the ninth step for residential and the eighth step for its commercial program.

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