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