In an effort to avoid picking winners and losers in the types of technologies sizable businesses install for self-generation and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the California Public Utilities Commission settled on a plan that frees up $150 million of incentive money that\u2019s been frozen since the beginning of the year. Regulators were responding to business and legislative pressure to release the funds. \u201cThe demand for incentives seems immeasurable,\u201d said commissioner Mike Florio Sept. 8. Commissioner Catherine Sandoval said the decision will help cut greenhouse gases, reduce demand on the grid, and provide customers more choice. Under the decision, the CPUC plans to reserve 75 percent of the incentive money for renewable energy systems. The other 25 percent is earmarked for conventional combined heat and power (cogeneration) installations. The projects generally aren\u2019t aimed for small mom-and-pop businesses. Neither are they expected to be rooftop solar systems. Storage can be incorporated into any system. Fuel cells are to be covered through the renewable energy earmark, but are prohibited from relying on out-of-state biogas in order to claim renewable energy status. Businesses may apply for subsidies for up to $5 million on any one installation with power earmarked only for internal use--not to be fed onto the grid. The decision also caps incentive payments to any one technology provider at 40 percent of the total incentive money. Projects have to meet a greenhouse gas emissions limit to be eligible for incentives. CPUC president Mike Peevey explained the decision carries out SB 412, enacted in 2009 to reorient the self-generation incentive program to target greenhouse gas reductions. The decision also sets a new and for the most part lower incentive payment structure. Among the changes, small scale wind turbines are to get upfront subsidies of $1.25\/watt, down from $1.50\/watt. Fuel cells are eligible for $2.25\/watt, down from $4.50. Non-renewables--like natural gas-fired microturbines--qualify for just 50 cents\/watt, down from $2.50. Despite being a distributed generation supporter, commissioner Mark Ferron warned that the commission has to be careful its infusion of incentive money does not cause market distortions for the increasing number of companies in the self-generation field. He said the commission needs to remain flexible to address any emerging distortions, but at the same time \u201cresist the urge to tinker\u201d to support market stability. The commission adopted the decision on a unanimous vote. In another action related to distributed generation, the commission denied a request by utilities to change from two steps to one step the application process for homeowners and businesses seeking solar incentive payments under the California Solar Initiative. Currently, building owners apply before installation and get a commitment for a specific incentive payment. In the second step, they file for that payment after the panels are installed. Utilities wanted to eliminate upfront review of incentive applications before installation of rooftop solar panels. Under their plan, building owners simply would have panels installed and then apply for an incentive payment. (Current, Oct. 22, 2010). The CPUC reasoned that this after-the-fact application process would put building owners at financial risk, for instance, if incentive payments declined between the time they entered purchase contracts for solar panels and later applied for their rebates.