Update 12:03 EST, July 13: here’s an important note/clarification from Michelle Kinman of Environment California:
“The California Solar Initiative (CSI) is but one component of the state’s Go Solar California program, which seeks to expand the number of solar energy systems installed on existing homes in investor-owned utility territories, with a goal of installing 1,940 MW by the end of 2016. In addition, the publicly-owned utilities have a goal to collectively install 700 MW of solar capacity by 2016. Finally, the New Solar Homes Partnership, managed by the California Energy Commission, seeks to expand the amount of solar energy systems installed on new homes in investor-owned utility territories, aiming to install 360 MW by 2016.
Thus, while the CSI program is expected to achieve 1,940 MW of installed solar by the end of 2016, the state as a whole is projected to install a total of 3,000 MW by this same deadline.”
According to a report by the California Public Utilities Commission, the state of California plans to have a total of 1,940 megawatts of solar capacity implemented by 2016, probably at the end of the year. The Golden State was the first in the United States to achieve 1,000 MW of installed customer generated solar technology. Over 300 MW were constructed in 2011.
The California Solar Initiative is the largest solar program in the country and has a budget of $2.2 billion dollars. By the end of the first quarter of 2012, California had about 1,255 MW of solar capacity installed at over 120,000 sites.
Though solar power has become somewhat of a political football in an election year, and there has been some negative press due to situations like Solyndra (just one of hundreds or thousands of solar power companies), California has continued to install more solar capacity. Given the political turbulence and a struggling economy, it is impressive to see such a huge state determined to follow through with its clean energy goals.
One of the main benefits of installing 1,940 MW of solar capacity by 2016 is replacing 585 million therms of natural gas utilization.
Net metering is also part of the overall strategy, as it allows some financial benefit (albeit not large) to low-income residents who install solar panels, as well as those who typically buy solar panels who have more money.
When the national economy returns to a more stable and productive phase, one would hope the lessons learned during the lean times could help the cause even more, when there is greater opportunity for financing, and creative strategy.
Image Credit: Wiki Commons, Urban
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