More Solar Energy in California

Posted By on January 13, 2006

According to an article by Rebecca Smith in the January 13th WSJ, California Public Untilities Commission will expanding their solar energy program. They will be subsidizing the installation of a new 3,000 megawatts of new solar capacity. This will be in addition to California’s current 1200 megawatts, which is already more solar capacity than any other state. The goal is to reduce daytime fossil fuel use in the state on sunny days as well as reduce polution. Pundits suggest that this will cost too much and if one is to only look at the ‘current’ cost per megawatt … they are right.

One think California does not want to happens is to relive the shortage of power days 2000 and 2001. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s recent appointment to the Public Untilities Commission, former member of the FCC Rachelle Chong, placed her first vote after appointment ‘in favor’ of the Solar project which passed the proposal. On a side note, the Governor has been a solar energy supporter for many years and he believes this is the right path for California’s future.

The program sound some what similar to Solar projects in Europe where subsidies offset the cost of solar installations. In Germany a residential producer receives low interest government loans to install solar, the receives reduced rates for electricity they use and also a premium price for selling wattage to the grid.

I’m unsure as the particulars of the new California program, but the WSJ reporter indicated that subsidies would be “enough to cover 25% to 30% of the average residential installation cost.” The initial subsidy is stated to be $2.80/watt of capacity installed per year with the final year payment in 11th year (2016) only being 25 cents per watt of installed capacity. All California residents will pick up the tab for this solarization to the tune of about a $1.10/mo upcharge on their electric bill.


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