Solar water heating system

Test Your Solar Water Heater Incentive Knowledge

By Steve Whitworth

In an earlier posting, I discussed incentives and financing opportunities available to businesses that install a solar water heating system. Now it’s time to test your reading retention and see if you know whether the following statements are true or false.

1. The statewide California Solar Initiative (CSI) Thermal Program offers business customers of Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) rebates of up to $800 for installing a solar water heating system in a commercial building or multi-family property.

False. The maximum rebate available to PG&E business customers is $800,000, not $800.1 (Final rebate amount will be based on the estimated savings as determined by the contractor.)

2. The rebate is available to PG&E business customers who currently heat their water with either a natural gas, propane or electric water heater.

False. PG&E business customers must currently heat their water with a natural gas water heater or boiler. PG&E customers who heat their water with electricity or propane are not eligible.

3. The rebate amount is based on the size and performance of the solar water heating system, which determines how much non-renewable energy the system is expected to offset annually.

True. The contractor you select to install the solar water heating system will leverage the CSI-Thermal calculator to determine the rebate amount based on how much natural gas your system will save. Generally, the more water the business currently heats with the natural gas, the bigger the rebate will be when they add solar thermal.

4. The CSI rebate program is scheduled to end on December 31, 2017, and rebate amounts will decrease as participation in the program increases.

True. Customers are encouraged to apply for their rebate early as incentives will decline over time as the program meets certain benchmarks.

5. The installation contractor is usually responsible for determining the rebate amount and submitting the rebate application.

True. The CSI-Thermal administrators train and certify all the contractors that participate in the program to properly reserve and request incentives. Once the installation is complete, your contractor will request the rebate payment.

6. If a business completes the installation of a solar water heating system by the end of 2016, it may be eligible for a 30% federal tax credit on the installed cost.

True. Consult your contractor or tax consultant for details.

7. After 2016, the federal tax credit on the installed cost of a non-residential solar water heater will be reduced to 20%.

False. The federal tax credit on the installed cost of a solar water heater for commercial purposes will drop to 10% after 2016.

8. Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing is obtained through financial institutions and is repaid as a property tax assessment, which requires mortgage holder consent.

True. PACE financing has varying payback periods and interest rates and repayment is tied to the property itself.

9. Installing a solar water heater will reduce business’s cost to heat water by 50% to 80% and payback can be as little as a few years2

True. Businesses that depend on hot water for essential applications can realize significant savings.

10. A business’s geographic location has no bearing whatsoever on the cost of the system and how much energy it will save.

False. The climate and the building’s ability to capture the sun are important factors. Your contractor will take this into consideration when designing and siting your system.

Well, I hope you aced our little quiz, but even if you didn’t, don’t despair. You can learn more about solar water heating and working with a contractor by downloading PG&E’s free eBook, "How to Make Solar Water Heating Affordable for Your Business."

  1. Pacific Gas and Electric Company
  2. U.S. Department of Energy

Test your knowledge about incentives for installing a commercial solar water heater:
  • SMB Blog Author
    Steve Whitworth
    Senior Program Manager at PG&E, is a recognized leader in the industry for renewables. Steve uses his proven and practical expertise to bring renewable education to residential and business customers. In this vital role, he develops and oversees highly successful initiatives that result in the adoption of more renewable projects throughout PG&E's territory.

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