An Additional Fund for Solar Power

By Ivan Penn and Inyoung Kang, New York Times

California wants the sun to power homes day and night.

With a measure signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, the state has made a new commitment of $800 million for clean-energy technologies including home storage. The goal is to capture electricity generated by solar panels during daylight hours to help keep the lights on after the sun goes down.

The funds increase the state incentives set aside for energy storage to more than $1 billion. The rebate money can be used for residential and commercial systems, including for schools, farms and businesses.

“We want to make sure that everyone who has rooftop solar also has an energy storage system,” said state Sen. Scott Wiener, a San Francisco Democrat who sponsored the bill. “Once you have a rebate program that the industry knows is stable for a number of years, the industry will invest and innovate.”

According to the California Solar and Storage Association, a trade group, homeowners can expect to pay about $4,500 for the typical installed battery system. That figure is the out-of-pocket cost after a $3,500 state rebate and a federal tax credit worth $2,000.

About a third of the money has been set aside for low-income people to claim first.

The state funds the incentive program with a fee of about 50 cents a month added to utility customers’ bills.

The rebate offer follows Brown’s recent signing of another bill that mandates 100 percent carbon-free electricity in California by 2045. The effort to increase storage is seen as a critical step in reaching the carbon-free goals.

“This is a classic California nuts-and-bolts policy of how to build the dream,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of the trade group.