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California Hits Solar Power Milestone

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Photo: Flickr/David Atkeson

1.255 GW of solar power is now generated from more than 122,000 rooftops across California. The migration to solar by low- and middle-income homeowners is the main reason behind the popularity of solar power in the Golden State. The data is revealed in the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) 2012 California Solar Initiative (CSI) Annual Program Assessment, which was issued a few days ago.

“California’s solar success is unmatched in the nation,” said CPUC President Michael R. Peevey. “In the first quarter of 2012, there has already been 97 megawatts of solar installed. This means that the CSI Program is on track to reach 1,000 megawatts in installations by the end of the year.”

In January 2007, California began an unprecedented $3.3 billion effort to install 3,000 MW of new solar energy over the next decade and transform the market for solar energy by reducing the cost of solar generating equipment.

CSI is the USA’s largest solar program, with a $2.4 billion budget and a goal to install 1,940 MW of solar capacity by the end of 2016.

The report also reveals that costs for residential solar systems have decreased by 28 percent since 2007. Besides, CSI projects in low income markets (areas with average incomes of less than $50,000) have increased by 364 percent since 2007. Approximately 1,500 low income homeowners, with help from the Single-Family Affordable Solar Homes (SASH) program, have installed solar panels to generate energy and improve their monthly cash flow.

Virtual Net Metering has allowed thousands of low income tenants to receive the direct benefits of solar as reductions in their monthly electric bills. In just over two years of operation, the CSI-Thermal Program, which provides rebates for solar water heating systems, has received 704 applications for $4.87 million in incentives.

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