CPUC said that the goals of the CSI Thermal Program are to increase the size of the solar water heating market in California by increasing the adoption rate of solar water heating technologies.

This includes: achieving installation of natural gas-displacing systems that displace 585 million therms, installation of electric-displacing solar water heating systems that displace 275.7 million kWh per year of electricity by the end of 2017, and expansion of the market for other solar thermal technologies that displace natural gas and electricity use, in addition to solar water heating.

The program also aims to support reductions in the cost of solar water heating systems of at least 16% through a program that increases market size and encourages cost reductions through market efficiency, and engage in market facilitation activities to reduce market barriers to solar water heating adoption, such as high permitting costs, lack of access to information, and lack of trained installers.

The program will run for eight years, until December 31, 2017, or until the program funds are exhausted, whichever occurs first.

The CSI Thermal Program will be funded by $250m in collections from natural gas ratepayers, pursuant to Assembly Bill 1470, as well as up to $100.8m in funds already authorized and currently being collected through the general market CSI PV program and earmarked in Senate Bill 1 for solar thermal projects such as solar water heating.

Money collected under AB 1470 from natural gas ratepayers will fund incentives to solar water heating systems that displace natural gas usage, while funds collected through CSI from electric ratepayers will fund electric displacing solar water heating systems.

Per AB 1470, 10% of the natural gas-displacing program budget, or $25m, is set aside for incentives to low income customers. There is no set-aside for a low income program for electric-displacing solar water heating as only 10% of California homes use electricity to heat water.

The CSI Thermal Program will be administered by PG&E, Edison, SoCalGas, and by the California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE) in the SDG&E territory. PG&E and SDG&E, in coordination CCSE, will disburse incentives to both electric and natural gas ratepayers who install solar water heating systems in their territories.

Edison will disburse incentives through the CSI Thermal Program to customers who install electric displacing solar water heating systems. SoCalGas will disburse incentives to customers in its territory who install natural gas displacing solar water heating systems.