Recently, the Free Hot Water blog discussed the lack of solar thermal installers in California that are eligible to collect the CSI Thermal rebate. If you missed that post, read it here. That lack of solar thermal installers is a challenge for growing a viable solar thermal market in California–and really everywhere in the United States. Why? Several reasons:
- Fewer solar water heating installers means fewer companies preaching about the benefits of solar thermal.
- Fewer people marketing solar thermal means that there are fewer residents and commercial businesses that are aware of the benefits of solar hot water.
- Of course, if there’s less public awareness, that translates into fewer sales.
- And naturally, fewer sales leads to lower profits for existing solar thermal businesses, higher prices, and potentially driving the few solar thermal installers that exist out of the market.
So, the current weak market is part of a vicious cycle, and one that needs to be broken, but how?
To its credit, California’s Public Utility Commission (CPUC) has embarked on a public awareness campaign for solar thermal. In addition, the state has recently raised the rebate amount for both residential and commercial installations.
The one element that the CPUC didn’t address is training. In its recent July decision to raise the rebate, the CPUC decided that it was not up to the state to incentivize or market solar thermal training to plumbers, contractors and roofers. Rather, that it was up to the efforts of solar trade schools and collector manufacturers.
However, the CPUC did mandate that the state’s three investor owned utilities (PG&E, SCE, SCGC, and SDGE) provide a rebate information program for potential solar thermal installers in their service area.
The most recent one in PG&E territory (Northern California) is coming up on October 18, 2012, (Thursday, 10:00 am to 3:30 pm). The workshop will go over the requirements for receiving incentives through the CSI Thermal program. In addition to this workshop being informative about the rebate filing process, it is also required in order to receive the CSI Thermal incentive.
So, if you haven’t yet taken this course or know someone else who would like to become a CSI Thermal eligible solar thermal installer, see the course description and registration instructions below:
About the Course: This CSI Thermal Workshop is a required introductory course for contractors and applicants interested in participating in the CSI Thermal Program. The class is designed to provide a thorough understanding of the program, its requirements, and the application process. It will also provide an overview of solar water heating technologies. The exact agenda is to be determined, but note that this is not an instructional class on how to install solar water heating systems.
Eligibility: Completion of this course by the contractor license owner as listed with the California State License Board (CSLB) is mandatoryto participate in the CSI Thermal Program. This will satisfy the requirement for the entire company to be eligible as a contractor or to fill out the application. Attendance by all other company employees is optional, but is strongly recommended for installers and other personnel involved in the application process.
Prerequisite: It is recommended that CSI Thermal Workshop participants first attend one of PG&E’s solar water heating classes or have a good understanding of these systems. Technical knowledge of Solar Rating and Certification Corporation (SRCC) guidelines and standards will be useful. For more information, please visit http://www.solar-rating.org/.
Paperless Class: In an effort to save paper and lower our carbon footprint, we will not be distributing a copy of the PowerPoint slides used during this Workshop. These slides and supporting documents and resources referenced during this class are posted to http://www.pge.com/solareducation.
Pre-class reading: Students should familiarize themselves with the topics and terminology that will be discussed by reviewing the CSI Thermal Program final decision. For more information, please visit http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/PUBLISHED/FINAL_DECISION/112748.htm and http://www.pge.com/csithermal before attending this workshop.
There is no cost to attend this workshop. However, the workshop is limited to applicants, self-installers, and installation contractors. As noted above, the CSLB owner is required to attend, not another employee. His or her attendance will satisfy the requirement for the entire company. This class is designed for solar water heating contractors, administrative staff and anyone interested in learning more about the CSI Thermal program, its requirements and application process.
Note: Installation contractors must have an active A, B, C-4, C-36 or C-46 license. For full details and to register for the course, please go to this PG&E website page.
If you’re a California installer and have already taken this course, please recommend it to other eligible contractors. While this may appear to be anti-competitive, as noted above, California needs more installers to grow a sustainable market. Sadly, there are more than enough empty roofs for solar thermal installers to succeed.