Sonoma Clean Power launched the Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) Assistance Program in April 2020 to help customers affected by public safety power shutoff (PSPS) events take advantage of the state’s generous battery storage incentives.
The California Public Utility Commission’s (CPUC) SGIP provides incentives to support existing, new, and emerging distributed energy resources. SGIP funds are administered locally by PG&E through rebates for qualifying distributed energy systems, including battery storage systems.
In January 2020, the CPUC authorized more than $1 billion in funding statewide for SGIP through 2024. $512 million of the funding was reserved specifically for a new category, Equity Resiliency, which prioritized communities living in high fire-threat areas, communities that have experienced two or more PSPS events, and low-income and medically vulnerable customers.
PG&E was allocated over $226 million for Equity Resiliency projects in their territory, which includes Sonoma and Mendocino counties. While the costs of energy storage systems vary depending on the site and technology, the CPUC’s incentive amount for the Equity Resiliency category was designed to fund most, if not all, of the costs associated with installing an average energy storage system for a customer’s home.
When paired with a solar photovoltaic system, battery storage can provide improved comfort and reliability during power outages and allow a household to utilize the renewable energy it generates to its full potential.
With the SGIP Equity Resiliency incentives covering up to 100% of a qualified applicant’s battery storage system, SCP saw an unprecedented opportunity to get batteries installed in more customers’ homes before the next fire season.
Although the benefit of adding battery storage to homes was clear, SCP recognized two major challenges that customers were facing when trying to obtain the SGIP funds: the lengthy and complicated application process, and the lag in receiving the rebate once an application was approved.
Additionally, because of the time and expertise that the SGIP application requires, some contractors had an added processing fee for customers who sought to utilize the state’s incentives for their home battery storage projects.
SCP’s SGIP Assistance Program directly addresses these concerns by providing incentive payments in advance to our customers, and by helping contractors complete the SGIP paperwork at no extra cost.
By eliminating these hurdles, SCP hopes that more of its customers who qualify, particularly fixed income and low-income customers, will now be able to take advantage of the SGIP.
So far, 104 residential battery storage projects have been provided SCP’s up-front incentives. Of those projects, 102 fell under the Equity Resiliency category. The remaining two met the General Market category criteria.
Although the state’s Equity Resiliency budget was fully expended in September 2020, the General Market rebate continues to be available for all customers.
SCP plans to re-open the SGIP Assistance Program for General Market applications after it receives the state’s rebates from PG&E for the first round of approved applications. Once the fund is replenished, SCP will be able to start providing the up-front incentive amount to customers again.
Please visit sonomacleanpower.org/programs/sgipassistance for more information.