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In The Boardroom With...

Mr. David Rubin
Director of Service Analysis
PG&E Thank you for joining us again today, David. Please give us an overview of your background and your role at PG&E?

David Rubin: I am presently the Director of Service Analysis at Pacific Gas and Electric Company in San Francisco, where I have responsibility for economic development, various types of community energy programs, and distributed generation. Among other things, my department manages PG&E’s Self Generation Incentive Program and the California Solar Initiative. These programs provide our customers with over $100 million per year in financial incentives for various types of clean and renewable distributive generation projects. One will read on PG& that, "Pacific Gas and Electric Company is committed to planning for the future, and, to that end, is working with our customers and our communities to harness the power of the sun." Please elaborate for us about PG&E’s renewable energy activities, what are the target markets and are there other of renewable energy solutions besides solar that PGE is involved with?

David Rubin: PG&E supports renewable energy in a number of ways. First, we help customers install renewable energy systems on their facilities. We do this through financial incentives to help defray the capital costs, safe and timely interconnection of these projects to our grid, and net energy metering for qualifying technologies (primarily solar and wind). Furthermore, PG&E procures energy from renewable resources consistent with California's Renewable Portfolio Standard. Today, 12% of the energy we deliver to our customers is from qualifying renewable sources and we have a total of 18% including projects under contract. By 2010/2011, 20% of the energy that we provide will be from qualifying renewable sources.

We recently announced a concentrating solar thermal project that will deliver 553 megawatts of solar power, which will be the world's largest single solar installation when completed. Earlier this summer, we announced contracts with two San Francisco companies for 7MW of utility scale photovoltaic power. We also recently signed two contracts to purchase methane generated by biogas digesters, relying on cow manure, and submitted these to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) for approval. Finally, we recently filed an application to the CPUC to advance the development and commercial deployment of emerging renewable technologies. We look forward to implementing these programs, once approved. We understand that the California Solar Initiative is a ten-year, $2.1 billion solar incentive program for existing residential homes and existing and new commercial, industrial, and agricultural properties. Please tell us more about it. How does it work?

David Rubin: Under the CSI, PG&E provides financial incentives to our customers to install solar pv systems on their homes and/or businesses. The incentive levels vary according to the market segment -- residential, non-residential, new construction, low income, governmental/non-profit. Large projects (currently > 100 kw) get paid according to actual energy produced, while smaller projects get paid up-front based on expected output. These incentive amounts are designed to decline over time as certain MW thresholds are reached, in order to follow anticipated reductions in the costs of solar. Finally, qualifying customers will be required to take steps to improve the energy efficiency of their facilities, so that the solar energy can meet the needs of a more efficient customer base. There was a requirement that participating customers take service on a time-of-use rate, but complications led the legislature and Commission to defer this requirement. Congratulations on the recent announcement regarding The San Francisco Giants and PG&E partnership to install a solar system at AT&T Park, the first ballpark in Major League Baseball to install a solar system. Please tell us more about this high profile project.

David Rubin: PG&E has installed 590 Sharp solar panels in three areas of AT&T Park: along the Port Walk, on a newly-erected canopy over one of the pedestrian ramps, and on a rooftop. The estimated 120 kilowatts of power generated from this installation is connected to the grid to provide our customers in San Francisco and the other communities that we serve clean renewable energy. Tens of thousands of PG&E customers will be in attendance at every home game, and millions more baseball fans will be watching on TV over the course of the season – providing PG&E with an ideal setting to promote solar’s feasibility and the value of solar energy to meeting the challenges associated with climate change. We are also working with the San Francisco Giants to identify other ways to create energy-saving opportunities, including a five-year public awareness campaign to educate and encourage Giants fans to use energy responsibly. Are there one or two other success stories or projects you’d like to mention?

David Rubin: Yes. The first would be PG&E's Solar School Program. This charitable grant program involves the installation of photovoltaic systems in selected schools within our service area, complemented by a solar based curriculum training package, workshops for teachers, topped off by funding for "Bright Ideas" -- which supports innovative solar science projects in classrooms. Since its inception in 2004, this program has contributed millions of dollars, trained over 1,300 teachers and benefited 60 schools throughout California. The 2007 program will grant awards to 40 additional schools.

Another program we are very proud of is the PG&E Solar Habitat Program. This Program is a partnership between PG&E and local Habitat for Humanity chapters. PG&E recently announced a $1.2 million partnership with Habitat for Humanity International to install a solar system on every Habitat home in PG&E’s service area. In 2006, PG&E supported solar installations on 51 Habitat homes which will provide the families electricity savings of approximately $500 a year.

These highly visible solar installations showcase one approach that is available to residential and commercial property owners interested in integrating solar systems on their buildings. PG&E hopes that projects like this will stimulate interest and confidence in the use of solar photovoltaics for a wide variety of applications. Solar technology is improving and costs are coming down but tax incentives are still needed to develop solar projects. What are the current tax incentives in the U.S. Market for solar projects?

David Rubin: The key tax benefit available to solar is the investment tax credit (ITC). There has been much activity this past year in congress to extend the ITC, and to remove the utility exclusion. We are in support of these changes, and are hopeful that they become codified later this year. What resources such as White Papers and Case Studies are available for end-users on

David Rubin: There are a great number of resources for our customers interested in solar power available at: For general information about the California Solar Initiative, customers can visit:

For specific information on incentives available through the California Solar Initiative, customers can visit: Solar Power 2007, America’s largest solar event, is coming up on September 24th in Long Beach, California. Can you tell us a bit your participation at this event?

David Rubin: PG&E is proud to be a major sponsor of Solar Power 2007, but our participation at the event goes far beyond sponsorship.

We have PG&E representatives moderating and participating on the following panels:

    Issues of Common Concern - Solar Industry Collaboration

    Performance Monitoring and Metering: Meeting Expectations & Tracking Success

    Solar In the Utility Business Environment

    Policies to Encourage Utility Support for Distributed Solar

    We also have a booth in the exhibition hall, with a lot of useful information regarding PG&E's solar services and programs. Thanks again for joining us today, David. Are there any other subjects you’d like to discuss?

I'll close by noting that PG&E has interconnected more than 18,000 customer owned photovoltaic systems to the power grid - representing over 150 megawatts - more than any other utility in the nation. We look forward to further advances in solar technology accompanied by reductions in the costs, and to our customers' enthusiastic participation in our programs.