SAN FRANCISCO–The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) today issued its 2012 California Solar Initiative (CSI) Annual Program Assessment, showing that in 2011 California reached a major milestone by becoming the first state in the nation to install more than 1 gigawatt (1,000 megawatts) of customer-generated solar energy; a record 311 megawatts (MW) were installed in the investor-owned utility territories in 2011 alone.
As outlined in the report, currently more than 122,000 sites across the state host solar systems to serve on-site solar generation. The annual rate of new solar installations and the cumulative installed capacity both provide evidence that California is well along the path of achieving the goals set by Senate Bill (SB) 1 in 2006, the legislation that authorized the CSI Program.
“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.”
Other highlights of the report include:
· Costs for residential solar system have decreased by 28 percent since 2007.
· CSI projects in low income markets (areas with median 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 – something that has a big impact in today’s sensitive housing market.
· The SASH program surpassed its goals, installing more than 1,000 projects for low income families by the end of 2011.
· The Multi-family Affordable Solar Housing (MASH) program completed 181 projects as of April 30, 2012, with a capacity of 9.1 MW.
· Virtual Net Metering has allowed thousands of low income tenants to receive the direct benefits of solar as reductions in their monthly electric bills.
· CSI projects in middle income markets (areas with median incomes between $50,000 and $100,000) have increased by 445 percent since 2007, and comprise the majority of applications received in 2011.
· 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.
In January 2007, California began an unprecedented $3.3 billion effort to install 3,000 MW of new solar over the next decade and transform the market for solar energy by reducing the cost of solar generating equipment. The CPUC portion of the solar effort is known as the CSI Program. CSI, the country’s largest solar program, has a $2.4 billion budget and a goal to install 1,940 MW of solar capacity by the end of 2016.