Solar Data Monitoring in California

The California Solar Initiative (CSI) is an organization that offers a cash back incentive for putting a solar system on your home or business in California.  There are two different rebate programs, Expected Performance Based Buydown (EPBB), and Performance Based Incentive (PBI). The rebate values vary according to system size, customer class, and performance and installation factors, as shown on the chart below:

 Here is the EPBB rebate explained by the CSI website:

Owners of solar systems less than 50 kilowatt (kW*) may apply for an up-front cash rebate known as the Expected Performance Based Buydown (EPBB)**. Program Administrators calculate a customer’s rebate using the expected performance of the owner’s system based on equipment ratings and installation factors such as geographic location, tilt, orientation and shading. Customers receive their incentive payment in a lump sum after their system in fully installed and interconnected.

And here is the PBI:

Customers with solar systems between 50 kW* and 1 MW must* apply for the Performance Based Incentive (PBI) structure. PBI incentives are a five-year stream of fixed monthly payments determined by the actual output of the system, as metered and reported to the utility. After January 1, 2010, all systems greater than 30 kW must choose the Performance Based Incentive structure. The PBI incentive path is available at any time to ANY size system. The table below shows the effect of prices as these step declines occur, with current prices in the three territories highlighted in yellow. Residential and commercial incentives are the same price in each step; however, local governments and other tax-exempt organizations receive a slightly higher incentive because cannot qualify for Federal Investment Tax Credits on their solar systems. The table below shows the rebate levels available at various steps, and information on currently applicable step in your region is available at the California Solar Initiative Trigger Tracker.

However, there is a catch. In order to use this great incentive, the homeowner or business must “record the output of the PV generator”, and “pay for 5 years of data communication and performance monitoring and reporting services” (emphasis mine). So who are these Performance Monitoring and Reporting Services? After some major digging through the beaurocratic labyrinth of CSI and Pacific Gas and Electric’s websites, I found this list:

  1. Applied Power Technologies, Inc.
  2. Deck Monitoring, LLC
  3. Draker Laboratories, Inc.
  4. Energy Recommerce, Inc.
  5. Enflex
  6. Enphase Energy
  7. Fat Spaniel Technologies
  8. Locus Energy
  9. NergyOS, Inc.
  10. Recurrent Energy
  11. SatCon Power Systems
  12. SolarCity
  13. Thompson Technologies, Inc.
  14. Trimark Associates, Inc.

So there you are! The list of the 14 privileged Performance Monitoring and Reporting Service providers. These chosen few capitalize on every solar installation in the state of California.

About Isaac Lewis

Isaac Lewis is a web entrepreneur in the solar and renewable energy industry. He works as a web developer, a 3D draftsman, small farmer and linux and FOSS activist.
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