Home News California Seeks to Shift Major Battery Incentive Toward Fire, Blackout Resiliency

California Seeks to Shift Major Battery Incentive Toward Fire, Blackout Resiliency


Within its background, California’s Self-Generation Incentive Program has been the state’s primary driver for distributed solar energy systems. And, over the last half-decade or thus, behind-the-meter batteries. 

Today California regulators are proposing a role for SGIP: giving backup methods that are battery-solar to those at risk of blackouts and wildfires. 

On Wednesday, the California Public Utilities Commission issued a proposed decision (PDF) which could shift the majority of all SGIP’s about $815 million budget through 2024 from regular behind-the-meter battery programs and toward its own ldquo;equity strength budget. ” 

That’therefore the budget for low-income, disadvantaged or medically vulnerable men and women that live in areas at high risk of wildfires and fire-prevention public safety power shutoffs, like the blackouts that left countless clients of bankrupt usefulness Pacific Gas & Electric without power for days at a time this autumn. 

In September, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) directed $100 million in previously funded “equity funding ” paying these high-risk clients, along with a fostered incentive of $1 each watt-hour that can almost certainly cover the upfront costs of a standard residential solar-storage system. 

Wednesday’to serving these clients s conclusion would keep this $ 1 percent watt-hour incentive and shift 63 percent of their budget through 2024 $513 million. Added to September’s allocation, which ’s $613 million, roughly half of SGIP’s $1.2 billion in current and future funding, that could go to the equity resiliency budget.

This mixture of a client base along with energy that needs it might add another major increase into your market primed for growth in reaction to PG&E’s blackouts. This month’s Energy Storage Monitor report by Wood Mackenzie along with the Energy Storage Association calls for a large uptick in home battery-solar systems in California starting in ancient 2020, with sellers such as SunrunSunPowerEnphase along with Tesla positioned to gain.

To pay for this shift toward resiliency, the CPUC’s projected budget could make substantial cuts in all types of SGIP funding. Most critically, “overall market large-scale storage programs,” a category that’s helped boost industrial and commercial installations from sellers such as Stem, Tesla, Green Charge Networks (currently part of Engie) and many others, will see allocations decreased from a recent 52 percent to only 12 percent, leaving the category with access to roughly $360 million through 2024. 

SGIP has helped California take undoubtedly the leading place in the nation in battery installations. However, it’s seen its challenges, as in 2016, when behind-the-meter storage sellers Stem and Swell have been discovered to have taken good advantage of defects  from the app ’s online application process to win the majority of the awards in a 40 million solicitation, roughly half that year’therefore funding. The program has been criticized for funding storage jobs that harbor ’t decreased overall greenhouse gas emissions — a problem the CPUC addressed using a new set of GHG rules this season. 

SGIP has never been able to pay its equity budget, because a discounted method remains too expensive for many of the low-income or contested customers it targets to be able to afford. However, this year’s blackouts motivated the CPUC to improve the incentive for those at risk of blackouts, like people on machines, or families with babies or older relatives reliant. 

The CPUC has included special groups, such as Central Valley disadvantaged participants and communities in existing multifamily home solar programs, as eligible for its equity budget.  Wednesday’s proposed decision could include a new category inaccessible before this fall’s blackouts: those who can establish they’t had their power shut off through “2 or more discrete [public safety power shutoff] occasions prior to the date of application. ” In other words, those most likely to have their power shut off be eligible even when they don't match the low-income or medical necessity standards. 

The CPUC doesn’t even plan to vote until mid-January in the oldest to the decision. If approved, Wednesday’s proposal could require utilities and other participants to start accepting applications for programs 10 kilowatts or under no later than March 1, 2020, “to help eligible customers install on-site batteries as soon as possible before the 2020 crucial wildfire season. ”

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