California solar program has already installed more than 1,750 MW

The California Solar Initiative has reached its customer-installed solar energy goal more than a year early, according to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).

In its annual program assessment report, issued June 30, the CPUC reported that as of Dec. 31, 2015, the California Solar Initiative General Market Program had installed just over 1,753 MW with another 139 MW reserved in pending projects, surpassing the program goal of installing 1,750 MW by 2017.

Customer solar installations also continued to increase in 2015, largely without rebate incentives, demonstrating that the California Solar Initiative program has substantially achieved its objective of stimulating widespread adoption of solar energy and creating a self-sustaining market.

Some highlights from the program assessment include:

● Through the end of 2015, an estimated 3,570 MW of solar capacity has been installed at 451,597 customer sites in Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), and Southern California Edison territories.

● A record 1,041 MW of solar capacity was installed in 2015 in PG&E, Edison, and SDG&E territories, 55% more than was installed in 2014. The majority of these solar energy systems did not receive any California Solar Initiative rebates, as PG&E, Edison, and SDG&E have either installed or reserved enough solar capacity to meet their California Solar Initiative program goals and are no longer accepting reservations.

Between the last quarter of 2008 and the last quarter of 2014, the average cost of installed residential systems decreased 53% from $10.87 per watt to $5.14 per watt, and the average cost of installed non-residential solar system costs decreased 62% from $10.30 per watt to $3.93 per watt.

Other California Solar Initiative highlights include:

● The California Solar Initiative Single-Family Affordable Solar Homes (SASH) program has completed a total of 5,681 projects, representing 17.2 MW of installed capacity on eligible homes. There are an additional 317 SASH projects in progress, with a total capacity of more than 1 MW.

● The California Solar Initiative Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing (MASH) program has completed 372 projects, representing 24.67 MW of installed capacity. There are an additional 214 MASH projects in progress or under review, with a total capacity of 38.6 MW.

● In just over five years of operation, the California Solar Initiative Thermal program has approved 3,407 applications for $47.5m in incentives of the available $205m California Solar Initiative Thermal incentive budget.

● The California Solar Initiative Research, Development, Demonstration and Deployment program has conducted five project solicitations since its inception, resulting in grant funding for 36 projects, totaling $44.4m. Funded projects have focused on the following areas: integration of solar photovoltaic (PV) into the electricity grid, energy generation technologies and business development, and grid integration and production technologies.

In January 2007, California began a $3.3bn ratepayer-funded effort to install 3,000 MW of new solar energy systems over the next decade and transform the market for solar energy by reducing the cost of solar generation equipment.

The CPUC’s portion of the solar effort is known as the California Solar Initiative program.

The California Solar Initiative program’s goal is to install 1,940 MW of solar capacity by the end of 2016 (this includes the general market program goal of 1,750 MW) and, along with other statewide solar programs, transition the solar industry to a point where it can be self-sustaining without subsidies.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.