The California Energy Commission launched a $10 million performance-based incentive mechanism for solar-powered systems at its January 19 business meeting, which includes adopting parameters for the pilot program. The pilot aims to verify whether the performance-based model will spawn higher-quality systems than the current incentive program. The commission?s monitoring of its current rebate program revealed software and hardware problems. Those shortcomings jeopardize performance of a number of residential installations, according to committee findings. Similar problems were found with larger systems. ?It?s an experiment to give us the information needed? on whether to go forward with this approach, said commissioner Jackie Pfannenstiel. All customers will be eligible to enroll in the program. The incentive level will be set at 50 cents\/kWh, to be paid quarterly for three successive years of uninterrupted service, according to CEC spokesperson Percy Della. Funding will be capped at $400,000 for any single installation. The industry was nearly unanimous in its view, said Della, that the 35 cent subsidy in the original proposal was too low. The commission believes the 50 cent subsidy will be close to equivalent for the $2.80\/watt rebate. In the past, solar subsidies were granted on a capacity basis, in terms of dollars per installed watts. This pilot allows for subsidies on a delivered-energy basis, albeit several magnitudes more than systemwide delivered power. The pilot?s rules of the road were laid out in the revised guidebook for the Emerging Renewables Program. The revisions include eliminating extensions to apply for the traditional and new pilot solar programs. However, applicants in the regular program that have reservations and need more time to finish their systems will get extensions if they request them. In other renewables actions, $2.3 million was added to a contract with the UC Davis?based California Wind Energy Collaborative. Increased funding will boost the group?s wind development efforts in the Tehachapi region along with other research and development projects. After revising the proposed plan several times last year, the commission voted to revisit its recent decision approving a repowering of the El Segundo Power plant (<i>Circuit<\/i>, Nov. 29, 2004). In December, El Segundo got the green light to develop a combined-cycle, gas-fueled unit at a total capacity of 630 MW. Commissioner John Geesman pushed for amending the El Segundo plan, saying it should add language that the project is necessary for the public good. The commission believes this language important because if the agency finds the project did not conform to the Coastal Act, it can still vote to license the project on grounds that it is required for public convenience and necessity. And there are no more prudent alternatives, according to Chris Davis, commission spokesperson. Geesman said that the Coastal Commission, which will weigh in on the project because El Segundo sits on the coastline, plays a role in planning but its recommendations to avoid using seawater to cool the plant are ?infeasible.? Amendments to El Segundo will be taken up on February 2. Also at the meeting, the commission awarded a small grant aimed at the problem of climate change. A total of $50,000 will fund analysis of new approaches to controlling greenhouse gas emissions from the power industry and other climate change issues. Davis said the agency?s 2005 <i>Integrated Energy Policy Report<\/i> may recommend climate change policy changes.