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Update on the Commercial CSI Thermal Program, Step 1 – Not Good.

Here’s a brief update on how the CSI Thermal program is progressing in California after the commercial rebate was raised 13.33% in August 2012. The results six months later? Not so good. See chart below:

The latest weak data from the CSI Thermal Trigger Tracker

The latest weak data from the CSI Thermal Trigger Tracker (Click to enlarge)

As you can see from the chart, the program is still in step 1, offering the richest rebate in the United States for commercial solar hot water and solar heating. And yet, with the exception of the San Diego area, more than two-thirds of the rebate is still available! Heck, in Los Angeles, 89% of the step 1 funds are still available.

For the multi-family unit low income housing program, the numbers are also weak. I didn’t create a chart for the residential uptake, but see for yourself on the official CSI Thermal Trigger Tracker. The home owner market is even worse, especially in the Los Angeles area.

Keep in mind that these incentives are not small. The multi-family/commercial CSI Thermal program gives businesses up to $500,000 cash towards the installation, and yet apartment building owners, industrial food and beverage manufacturers, hotels, Laundromats, etc are not biting. Why? 

My theory is that it’s really about the marketing and education, for both businesses and their banks.

The state of California nobly tried  to promote the CSI Thermal program on radio and local television, but the campaign was quite frankly bland and geared toward residential consumers—and as I mentioned, the uptake for the residential rebate is worse than the commercial numbers. So any way you slice it, the campaign has fallen flat.

Regardless of the residential side, commercial customers should be beating down the doors for this rebate, which not only reduces their upfront costs, but sets them on their way to eliminating up to 70% of their gas utility bills for 20 to 25 years—with a 5 to 10-year ROI, or less in many cases!

I’m just at a loss. It has to be a marketing gap in the Los Angeles and San Francisco. Somehow, San Diego is keeping a respectable pace, but I have no idea why.

If you have any ideas of what’s going right in San Diego, or what’s going wrong besides a tepid state marketing program, share your perspective and any solutions by leaving a comment below. 

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2 Responses to Update on the Commercial CSI Thermal Program, Step 1 – Not Good.

  1. The CCSE’s committment to promote energy savings through their workshops and outreach programs to building owners, contractors, building and local officials and the general public has been a major factor in the increased use of solar thermal in the San Diego area. The separation from the utility allowed greater flexibility in their approach all forms of energy management.

  2. Solar Fred says:

    Interesting. If only they could have that kind of support in Los Angeles and Nor Cal. Thanks for your insight, Robert.