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Published on October 14th, 2009 | by Zachary Shahan

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New California Bill Gives More Money to Small-Scale Solar Projects



Governor Schwarzenegger just gave solar power a boost in California, especially for relatively small-scale solar generators.

Taking notes from Europe, perhaps, Schwarzenegger signed legislation for a “feed-in tariff” earlier this week that requires Calfornia utilities buy solar power from relatively small generators and at higher than market-value prices.

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In particular, the new requirement is that California utilities “buy power from solar-panel generators of 1.5-3.0 megawatts in size” and with a pricing scheme that looks to create a tariff of about 15-17 cents per kilowatt-hour.

This should give a boost to some existing solar generators and one perceived benefit is that it will create a sub-market for low-cost projects which don’t really fit into any existing portion of the energy market. However, a handful of solar companies also believe this is not a strong enough incentive and the 15-17 cents per kw-hour wouldn’t stimulate much investment.

Big solar companies such as Suntech Power Holdings, SunPower Corp, and Applied Materials Inc. would prefer to see a similar feed-in tariff program from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) instead.

Schwarzenegger encouraged the CPUC to go ahead and create a similar program, but said he was signing this bill now because California “will need to use all of the tools available” to achieve its goal to have 33% of electricity sold by utilities coming from renewable energy sources by 2020.

According to supporters, the tariff looks like it is good enough for schools, local governments, farms, and others on a similar scale to take advantage of. Looks like it could be a great thing for 1BOG neighborhood groups, too!

This is a major new incentive for smaller scale solar generators and hopefully it will stimulate investment in this more dormant area of the solar marketplace! Thank you Governor Schwarzenegger for this new solar boost.

via Market Watch and PV-tech.org

Image Credit: Thomas Hawk via flickr under a Creative Commons license

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About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy for the past four years or so. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the Network Manager for their parent organization – Important Media – and he's the Owner/Founder of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.



  • HSR0601

    I’ve learned leasing solar panels in California made a big success as it relieves the pressure of up-front cost, I’m hopeful this innovative idea can spread world-wide.

    It would be true of leasing battery of EVs, as well.

  • HSR0601

    I’ve learned leasing solar panels in California made a big success as it relieves the pressure of up-front cost, I’m hopeful this innovative idea can spread world-wide.

    It would be true of leasing battery of EVs, as well.

  • Neal Reardon

    Bill W – The tariff wasn’t extended to residential customers because they are already eligible for net energy metering and CA Solar Initiative incentives.

  • Neal Reardon

    Bill W – The tariff wasn’t extended to residential customers because they are already eligible for net energy metering and CA Solar Initiative incentives.

  • http://www.wattminder.com solarMD

    The ‘above market’ rate of 15C to 17C would not be a strong incentive as an investment. It is a merciful concession to appeace the utilities by Arnold.

    I checked around the North East states, the nominal rates are around 12C plus 6C for delivery. If the prevalent Netmetering, time-of-use rate structure is applicable, then it may be more attractive.

    Like to see what PPA contractors think about this limited feed-in-tariff ?

  • http://www.wattminder.com solarMD

    The ‘above market’ rate of 15C to 17C would not be a strong incentive as an investment. It is a merciful concession to appeace the utilities by Arnold.

    I checked around the North East states, the nominal rates are around 12C plus 6C for delivery. If the prevalent Netmetering, time-of-use rate structure is applicable, then it may be more attractive.

    Like to see what PPA contractors think about this limited feed-in-tariff ?

  • http://GlobalPatriot.com Global Patriot

    While not a complete solution, this is a great step forward that will encourage the construction of additional solar installations. Hopefully this approach will find widespread acceptance with other states.

  • http://GlobalPatriot.com Global Patriot

    While not a complete solution, this is a great step forward that will encourage the construction of additional solar installations. Hopefully this approach will find widespread acceptance with other states.

  • Bill W

    It’s a shame they didn’t extend this tariff down to the level of residential systems.

  • Bill W

    It’s a shame they didn’t extend this tariff down to the level of residential systems.

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