California offers solar rebates


SAN FRANCISCO – Hoping to make California a world leader in solar power,
state energy regulators Thursday approved some $3 billion in customer
rebates over the next decade to encourage people to install solar panels on
their roofs.

The goal is to get Californians to install equipment capable of producing
3,000 megawatts of solar electricity on 1 million homes, businesses and
public buildings over the next 10 years. That is enough energy to power 2.3
million homes.

“The California Solar Initiative is the largest solar program in the
country, and I hope it will be a model for other states,” said Dian
Grueneich, a member of the state Public Utility Commission. “The program
will be a major source of dependable and environmentally friendly

The PUC voted 3-1 to provide $2.9 billion in rebates for solar panels
between 2007 and 2016. Last month, the five-member commission approved $300
million in rebates for 2006.

Solar advocates said the program will make solar energy more affordable,
create jobs, reduce air pollution and cut emissions of heat-trapping gases
blamed for global warming.

The project incorporates many of the same provisions in a plan advanced by
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. That plan had bipartisan support but died in the
Legislature last year because of disputes over its labor provisions.

“When I ran for office, I promised the people of California an affordable,
reliable and more environmentally friendly energy
supply,” Schwarzenegger said in a statement. “Today is a big step toward
that goal.”

Only about 100 megawatts, about 0.3 percent of California’s electricity
capacity, now comes from rooftop solar panels, installed on about 15,000
homes and businesses, according to Environment California.

Thursday’s initiative includes $2.5 billion in rebates for existing homes,
businesses and public buildings that install solar panels. An additional
$350 million in rebates will be offered for solar installations on new

The initiative rewards people who act fast. Home or business owners who
install panels this year will be eligible for a $2.80 rebate for each watt
of capacity installed; the rebate drops to 25 cents per watt by 2016.

The rebates will be funded by a surcharge on gas and electricity bills. Most
residential customers will pay an extra $12 a year.
Critics questioned whether ratepayers should subsidize the most expensive
form of renewable energy, and whether the program will drive down the costs
of solar energy, as backers claim.

“We need rates to go down, but this goes in the other direction,” said
Joseph Lyons, a lobbyist for the California Manufacturers and Technology

Solar advocates said they expect the state spending will lead to more solar
energy ventures.

“We anticipate that there are going to be a lot of companies getting into
this space and thriving in this space,” said Matthew Cheney, chief executive
of San Francisco-based Renewable Ventures, which provides financing for
renewable energy projects

I now understand why the AGO will not answer my requests for the SunBall to
be registered for rebates. The SunBall will put coal, gas and nuclear power
plants out of business and thus reduce Australian sales of gas, coal and
uranium. That is something which is clearly not in the “Nuclear is
Greenhouse Friendly” interest of Australia.

Ok so there will be no rebates for the SunBall and SunCube. So be it but now
it is time to turn up the heat a bit and create a new solar PV market
segment which doesn’t need rebates to survive or governmental interference
to make sure a growing solar PV industry it doesn’t upset the fossil and
nuclear fuel supply industry nor the electricity generation, transmission,
distribution and retail industry.

SunBall and SunCube (smaller DIY version) prices have now dropped 25% (down
to wholesale pricing) and will be selling direct over the internet.
Electrical installation can be quickly done by any qualified electrician.

I don’t need the AGO’s rebates and through them their ability to control the
solar PV industry. Its time for the industry to grow up, throw off rebates
and make our way in the world, free of government strings and industry
controls geared through the on again off again solar rebates.

I’m really pissed off if you can’t

All the best,
Greg Watson
Green and Gold Energy
Adelaide, South Australia
+61 408 843 089
Online SunBall discussion group

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