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Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing for California

California renewable energy incentives program for Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing

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Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing (MASH) provides solar incentives on qualifying existing multifamily affordable housing.

Solar Incentives to Qualifying Affordable Housing Developments

The California Public Utilities Commission established a $108 million solar incentive program for Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing (MASH) as part of the California Solar Initiative (CSI) overseen by the California Public Utilities Commission.

MASH community solar goals:

  • Stimulate the adoption of solar power in the affordable housing sector;
  • Improve energy utilization and overall quality of affordable housing through the application of solar and energy efficiency technologies;
  • Decrease electricity use and costs without increasing monthly household expenses for affordable housing building occupants; and
  • Increase awareness and appreciation of the benefits of solar among affordable housing occupants and developers.

The MASH program will provide solar incentives to qualifying affordable housing developments, as defined in state law. Incentive levels depend on whether the solar installation provides power to common areas of the affordable housing complex or directly to tenant units, with incentive levels of $3.30 per watt for systems offsetting common area load, and $4.00 per watt for systems offsetting tenant load. Applicants for MASH incentives may also apply for higher incentive levels through a competitive application process.

Energy Efficiency Components

Section 2851(a)(3) requires the Commission, in consultation with CEC, to require "reasonable and cost-effective energy efficiency improvements" as a condition of receiving solar incentives, although it allows "appropriate exemptions or limitations to accommodate the limited financial resources of low income residential housing." Consistent with this statute, Staff recommends all program applicants obtain an energy efficiency audit as part of the application process, to allow applicants to compare the costs of solar installation against the savings from energy efficiency measures.

Energy efficiency requirements for MASH should be consistent with the General Market CSI program, which does not currently require energy efficiency improvements before incentives are paid. DRA agrees than an energy audit should be required, as well as "all measures deemed feasible by the property owner." Currently, general market CSI applicants must obtain an energy efficiency audit, as described in D.06-12-033 and further delineated by the CEC in their December 2007 guidelines for solar incentive programs. According to the CEC Guidelines, existing residential buildings must comply with energy audit, information, and disclosure requirements, unless they have complied with Title 24 requirements for newly constructed buildings in the past three years.

Funding and Schedule of Incentives for Solar

CPUC program budget has been allocated between the three large utilities and an Administration budget of 12%. The budget, by utility, is as follows:

Track 1A and 1B Budgets


Percent of MASH Budget














Refer to this CPUC document for details about this program:
California Public Utilities Commission
Decision establishing MASH: Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing

More information and assistance is at Center for Sustainable Energy, California and the MASH website.

And information about the California Solar Initiative.

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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