Solar water heating pilot program ends Dec. 31

   Homeowners in rural San Diego County have until Dec. 31 to take advantage of rebates for installing solar water heating through the Solar Water Heating Pilot Program.

   The program provides incentives of up to $1,500 to homeowners and up to $75,000 to business owners who install qualifying solar systems and is offered only in the San Diego area. It is reaching the end of its test period and will be replaced by a similar statewide program with one major difference.

   Residents with propane water heating systems will not be eligible for the new program.  

   “Rural homeowners use propane-powered hot water systems because they’re not connected to utility-supplied natural gas lines,” said Chairwoman Dianne Jacob, who represents Ramona and the East County on the county Board of Supervisors. “Solar water heating is one of the great ways of helping the region become energy independent. We have all the sunshine we need, and it’s clean, green and safe energy.”

   The pilot program is funded through the California Solar Initiative and administered by the California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE) in San Diego. Solar water heating systems cost between $6,000 and $7,000, according to Irene Stillings, CCSE executive director. In addition to the rebates, there are federal tax credits available for up to 30 percent of system costs.

   “Solar water heating is a relatively inexpensive way to put the sun’s abundant energy to work on your home,” Stillings said. “You can displace a lot of energy that you currently get from fossil fuels like natural gas or propane and still have the hot water you need to take baths, wash clothes and dishes and other uses.”

   Rebate applications must be submitted by Tuesday, Dec. 15, to allow for processing. To receive funding, applicants must complete a retrofit installation within three months or a new construction installation within six months of reserving the incentive.

   A new statewide California Solar Initiative Solar Thermal Program starting in April will provide $300 million in new incentive funds through 2017. Roughly 60 percent of these incentives are earmarked for the commercial market, with 30 percent allotted for multifamily housing and 10 percent for the residential market.

   To learn more about the rebate programs, call 877-333-7947 or visit www.swh.energycenter.org. Most solar installers also supply information about the program.

   
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