There’s been a lot of icky Mother Nature-related news coming out of California this week as a string of potent storms (twisters in Orange County!) batter the state. I suppose that the one upside to the storms is that normally barren rain barrels in Southern California will now be filled to the brim and then some.

Here’s some wonderful news for when the sun comes out in SoCal again: state regulators have approved a $350 million rebate program established by the California Public Utilities Commission that offers financial incentives to homeowners who swap out natural gas and electric water heaters for solar models (no blanket required).

$250 million of the scheme, The California Solar Initiative Thermal Program, is allocated for subsidizing the replacement of natural gas powered water heaters with solar models. $25 million of that amount is earmarked for low-income households. A smaller amount, $100 million, is reserved for the replacement of less-common electric water heaters. Major utility providers including Pacific Gas & Electric Co., San Diego Gas & Electric Co., Southern California Edison, and Southern California Gas Co., will be offering rebates of up to $1,500 to ratepayers swapping out natural gas for solar or $1,010 for electric for solar. The rebate program begins retroactively in August of 2009 and runs until December 31, 2017 or until funding is tapped out. Incentives decrease as time goes on. 

According to the Los Angeles Times, the incentives could result in over 3,000 new green jobs and a significant drop in wholesale natural gas prices. It could also result in the displacement of 585 million therms of natural gas and 275.7 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually. 

Via [Los Angeles Times]

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

The great California solar swap
A rebate program that rewards homeowners for swapping out electric- and gas-powered water heaters for solar models is given the green light in California.