Nearly 200 people showed up in Redlands, Ca last night to hear Southern California Edison (SCE) representative, Javier Burgos, talk about the California Solar Initiative (CSI).  Called Homeowner Solar Information Sessions (HSIS), this SCE educational series about solar has been, according to Burgos, “our most successful outreach effort.”

Along with the overview of the CSI program and its intention to jumpstart solar adoption in California and basics on solar technology, Burgos hit a sobering thought for those looking to the CSI program for a large rebate check this year.

The EPBB or Expected Performance-based Buydown rebate incentive is a one time, lump sum, up-front payment which is currently at $2.20 per watt, or step 3 of the CSI program for residential customers.  That incentive paid in dollars per Watt is about to go down significantly said Burgos.  Step 4 is a reduction per Watt to $1.90.

“In a typical 4 kW system the current rebate is worth $8,500 of a total average system cost of $34,000,” explained Burgos. As the incentive level drops that initial incentive would go down to $7,400 taking other factors into consideration.  “Now is the time to get your incentive in place,” he said, urging attendees to contact solar contractors now to insure the best returns on a solar power system.

In Burgos’ example, the same 4kW residential system would qualify for a 30% uncapped Federal Tax Credit of $7650, resulting in a nearly 50% reduced price of $17,850.

In a town of only 71,000 people solar in Redlands is a big deal. According to the Climate Action Task Force, a green visioning group organized by Mayor Jon Harrison and Chairwoman, Jan Hudson of The Inland Empire Labor-Management Cooperation Committee, Redlands has over 1 megawatt of solar installed.  795.675 kW was installed in 63 installations through the end of 2008.  In 2009 the city went over the one megawatt marker with the installation of 533 kW installed on the headquarters of ESRI, the city’s leading commercial enterprise.

Burgos, who has been with SCE five years, is an entertaining and informative speaker, managing to make a pretty technical subject, solar power, humorous and engaging.  Upcoming  HSIS sessions include Santa Monica May 30 and Palm Springs, June 4.  For more information. ESRI 2009 solar power installation of 533 kW enough to power 100 homes.