California Solar Initiative Passes Gigawatt Mark

1-megawatts solar array at the US Coast Guard training facility in Petaluma, funded by CSI | Photo: California Solar Initiative

The California Solar Initiative (CSI), the state's groundbreaking program to encourage rooftop solar power installation has passed an important milestone: more than a gigawatt's worth of solar panels have been installed as a result of CSI's incentives since the program was established in 2007.

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According to reporter Dana Hull at the San Jose Mercury News, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) said Thursday that CSI's tally of new rooftop solar reached 1,066 megawatts at the end of December. That puts CSI more than halfway toward its stated goal of building 1,940 megawatts of solar by 2017.

And according to Hull, another 332 megawatts are in the process of being installed.

The CSI promotes solar by offering rebates for customers of the state's three major investor-owned utilities who install solar on their properties. The rebates decline over time -- they're currently about a tenth of the price they started out as in 2007 -- and vary depending on the type of property and the utility with which the customer does business.

When the program meets its 1,940-megawatt goal, which seems like it won't be long, CSI-funded solar projects will provide power generating capacity that amounts to about 5 percent of a typical summer day's peak statewide energy demand. Which makes today's milestone more of a stepping stone, of which we'll need about 19 more to reach California's solar future.

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About the Author

Chris Clarke is a natural history writer and environmental journalist currently at work on a book about the Joshua tree. He lives in Joshua Tree.
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