Saturday, January 23, 2010

California Approves $350 Million Solar Hot Water Conversion

California regulators approved a $350-million rebate offer to encourage homes and businesses to install water-heating systems powered by solar energy. The state Public Utilities Commission established the California Solar Initiative Thermal Program, which will use $250 million to replace natural-gas-powered water heaters, with $25 million set aside for low-income customers. An additional $100.8 million will be used to swap out water heaters powered by electricity.

The program could result in systems that displace 585 million therms of natural gas, or the equivalent of placing a solar water heater on 200,000 single-family homes, according to the commission. It could also lead to systems that displace 275.7 million kilowatt-hours of electricity per year. Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and San Diego Gas & Electric Co. will offer the deal to ratepayers whose solar water heaters displace either electric or natural gas use. Southern California Edison customers who displace their electric use with their new system and Southern California Gas Co. ratepayers who do the same with natural gas will also get a rebate. The new rebate could mean more than 3,000 new jobs, a 5% reduction in natural gas demand and a 35% drop in wholesale natural gas prices. (L.A.Times, 1/21/10)

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