California Sets the Bar on Solar Power – Surpasses Gigawatt of Energy Generation

california-solar-powerThe California Solar Initiative (CSI) announced at the end of last week the State of California has officially surpassed one gigawatt, (GW) or 1,000 megawatts (MW) of energy generation during the month of December.  In all, they were able to install 1,066 MW by the end of 2012.  Even though the panels don’t produce as much energy when the sun isn’t out, approximately one gigawatt of solar electricity can power over 200,000 households.

“California has the most customer-side solar installations of any state in the nation,” states Michael Peevey, President of the California Public Utilities Commission.  “This is a tremendous milestone for California and a testament to the success of the California State Initiative.”

The program, originally initiated in 2007, was created to ease the process of installing rooftop solar units for homeowners and businesses.  By offering various cash back rebates and simplifying the process for the end user, they have remained successful and track to meet their original schedule of building 1,940 megawatts of solar by 2017.  Considering CSI currently has another 332 megawatts committed for installation, it seems possible they may even hit their goal early.

CSI’s effort has extended state-wide as cities like Santa Rosa and San Jose from the North shore and San Diego, Irvine and Fresno from the South shore are listed as some of the top 10 solar cities in California.  In terms of the best performers, San Jose tops the list with 54.6 MW thanks in part to the involvement of eBay headquarters and the San Jose Unified School District within city limits.  San Diego is a close second with 51.3 MW.

Response for the CSI program has remained very strong; Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) is still adding around 1,000 new net meter customers each month.  After starting the initial rebates for the program around $2.50/watt in 2007, said demands shrunk below 20 cents/watt this year.  “The robust response to the program, even as the rebates continue to shrink as planned, shows that solar can stand on its own,” said Danny Boyles of PG&E.

For more information, visit www.gosolarcalifornia.ca.gov and search for The California Solar Initiative.

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