California Solar Is Hot But What’s Next? Raise Your Voice & Let’s Keep Solar Installations Going!

San Jose California News – I’ts great to see California showing the rest of the country how solar can create solar installation jobs and move us closer to energy independence. I hope this is only the beginning. California needs to continue to show the nation where all 50 states should be heading. Let’s all raise our voice to Sacramento and tell the state assembly that we want more solar.

San Jose could be called Solar City
San Jose Mercury News
By Dana Hull

New data about the California Solar Initiative, the state’s aggressive program to encourage homeowners, businesses, local governments and nonprofit organizations to install solar panels on their roofs, shows that San Jose has installed more solar power than any other city in the state.

From Jan. 1, 2007, to July 7, 2010, San Jose installed 14.9 megawatts of solar power on residential and commercial roofs, followed by San Diego with 11.3 MW and Fresno with 9.2 MW, according to an annual report released by the California Public Utilities Commission last week.

The news was no surprise to San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, who installed solar power at his own home about a year ago and has made renewable energy a key platform of his “Green Vision” for the city. The fact that San Jose averages more than 300 sunny days a year also helps. “I’m not surprised that we’re high up the list,” Reed said Wednesday. “We’ve got some major solar installations in the city — including at eBay, Cypress Semiconductor and the San Jose Unified and East Side Union High School districts.”

One megawatt is enough to power 750 to 1,000 homes. But since the sun doesn’t shine all the time, solar industry experts say that 1 megawatt of solar can power about 200 households. The rankings regularly fluctuate as new projects that are in the works are completed. When it comes to pending solar installations, San Diego is first with 25.1 MW in the pipeline, followed by San Jose with 17.9 and Lancaster with 16 MW of solar installations.

Launched in 2007, the California Solar Initiative is an ambitious road map that calls for 1,750 new megawatts of solar power to be installed on residential and commercial roofs in the state by 2016. With 729 megawatts of solar power installed or in the pipeline, the program is 42 percent of the way toward meeting its goals. “What you see is demand across the board,” said Molly Sterkel, solar program manager for the PUC. “We’re three years into the program and nearly halfway there.”

The goal of the program is to help solar achieve what’s known in the renewable energy industry as “grid parity” — the much-awaited point where solar can compete with cheaper sources of energy such as coal. The initiative is based on financial incentives that decline over time. When the program launched in 2007, consumers could get rebates as high as $2.50 a watt across the state. But the demand has been so strong that the incentive has fallen to just 65 cents a watt in PG&E territory.

The popularity of the program has created some problems. The PUC has temporarily suspended rebates to school districts like San Jose, cities, nonprofit groups and government agencies as it wrestles with its rapidly depleting solar installers budget. The commission has proposed slightly lowering the amount of rebates currently offered to nonprofit organizations and is in the process of taking public comment.