California Solar Initiative - Pilot Solar Water Heating Program

January 22, 2010


As of December 31, 2009, applications are no longer being accepted for this program. The information presented below is provided for reference purposes. On January 21, 2010, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) gave final approval for a $350 million statewide solar water heating incentive program. The statewide program is expected to begin in April 2010. In January 2006, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) adopted a program – the California Solar Initiative (CSI) – to provide more than $3 billion in incentives for solar projects with the objective of providing 3,000 MW of solar capacity by 2017. Although the CSI primarily funds solar electric (photovoltaics) projects, the CPUC also authorized $2.6 million for a pilot solar water heating program. The budget includes program administration, inspections, performance monitoring, program metering and verification and $1.5 million for incentives. This program, launched in July 2007, is administered by the California Center for Sustainable Energy (formerly the San Diego Regional Energy Office) and is available for systems installed on both new and existing residential, commercial, agricultural, and industrial buildings owned by electricity customers of San Diego Gas & Electric. For residential and small commercial systems, the maximum incentive is $1,500 and is based on estimated system performance according to the SRCC OG300 system ratings, solar orientation factors, and other inputs. For larger commercial systems, the incentive is a function of collector area and will be adjusted based on factors of system type, collector rating, and solar orientation. Collectors must have an SRCC OG100 rating. The system will be metered and one month of successful meter data will be required to demonstrate the system is working properly before payment of incentive is made.

  • $15/sq ft for open-loop systems
  • $20/sq ft for closed-loop systems
  • Maximum incentive is $75,000. Note: Pool and spa heating systems are not eligible. Incentives will be paid to qualified, licensed contractors to be passed through to the customer or directly to owners of self-installed systems. Participating contractors and self-installers must attend a one day workshop to qualify.

  • Program Overview

    Implementing Sector: State
    Category: Financial Incentive
    State: California
    Incentive Type: Rebate Program
    Web Site:
    Administrator: Center for Sustainable Energy
    Start Date: 10/10/2008
    Eligible Renewable/Other Technologies:
    • Solar Water Heat
    Equipment Requirements: Residential/Small Commercial: Systems must be SRCC OG300 rated.
    Larger projects: Collectors must be SRCC OG100 rated.
    All systems must have a minimum of a 10-year manufacturer’s warranty on the solar collector(s), minimum of 1-year and up to 5-years based on manufacturer’s warranty on the individual balance of system components, and 1-year warranty on installation labor and workmanship.
    Open-loop recirculation systems must come with a 5 year parts and labor warranty
    Installation Requirements: Can be a retrofit project or new construction
    Installation contractors must have an active A, B, C-4, C-36 or C-46 license. Self-installers are not required to be licensed, but must attend a one-day training workshop.
    Contractors are encouraged to become NABCEP-certified.


    Name: Solar Water Heating Program Handbook
    Effective Date: 10/10/2008


    Name: Annie Henderson
    Organization: Center for Sustainable Energy
    Address: 8690 Balboa Ave, Suite 100
    San Diego CA 92123
    Phone: (877) 333-SWHP

    This information is sourced from DSIRE; the most comprehensive source of information on incentives and policies that support renewables and energy efficiency in the United States. Established in 1995, DSIRE is operated by the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center at N.C. State University.