TheCalifornia Public Utilities Commission yesterday approved $350 millionin rebates to encourage homeowners and businesses to install solarwater-heating systems.
Industry experts estimate that the program couldcut the cost of such systems — also called solar thermal systems — byup to 25 percent. The federal government provides a tax credit worth 30percent of installed system costs.
Of the funds, $250 million will go towards replacingnatural-gas-powered water heaters, while $100 million is ear-marked forreplacing electric water heaters.
Customers of Edison International’s Southern CaliforniaEdison utility who replace their electric water heater with asolar-powered system will be eligible for a rebate. Sempra Energy’sSouthern California Gas Co. will offer the rebate to ratepayers whoreplace a natural-gas water heater. PG&E Corp.’s Pacific Gas &Electric Co. and Sempra Energy’s San Diego Gas & Electric Co. willoffer the deal to ratepayers whose solar water heaters displace eitherelectric or natural gas use.
Residential solar hot water systems typically cost between $6,500and $8,000 in California, according to the article. Homeownersreplacing a natural-gas heater can expect to receive a rebate worth upto $12.82 a therm, up to $1,500. While conventional water heaters aremuch less expensive, their cost of operation is higher, particularlywhen fuel prices rise.