Solar power prospects will get a lot brighter if Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has his way, said energy czar Joe Desmond during a September 16-17 conference organized by Law Seminars International. For starters, he promises that the "million solar homes" bill that died in late August will come back next year and probably be more assertive. The governor will push not only for the installation of photovoltaic panels on new homes but also for the development of concentrated commercial solar energy systems and a more aggressive renewables plan for the state, according to Desmond. The solar homes bill established a new dialogue about energy in California," added Julie Blunden, Kema Energy vice president. Blunden, who has been working with the governor and the California Environmental Protection Agency on the bill and photovoltaic (PV) development, claimed that the potential of solar power is enormous. It saves money in the long run and produces the most juice at times of peak demand, she said. When the sun is blazing and air conditioners are driving up energy demand, PV systems run at full tilt. "PV matches the peak load shapes," Blunden said. She said about $1 billion of investment in solar photovoltaic units is estimated to yield $2 billion in avoided peak demand costs. Currently, solar energy makes up only a tiny proportion of the state's overall power supplies. The installed capacity is 80 MW, which includes 21 MW in Sacramento Municipal Utility District territory, 37 MW funded by the California Energy Commission, 18 MW from the California Public Utilities Commission?s self-generation program, and 3 MW held by the state. The administration also promised that California will meet its 20 percent renewables portfolio standard goal by 2010, seven years ahead of schedule, according to Desmond. To meet that objective, 7,000 MW of alternative power will be needed. Desmond did not mention whether the governor would sign SB 1478 by Senator Byron Sher (D-Palo Alto)?which would advance the renewables mandate to 2010?but noted that growth in solar energy aside from rooftop PV assemblies and other renewables is dependent on transmission upgrades. Desmond noted that 400 MW from Reliant's Etiwanda units were taken out of mothballs earlier this year and projections show that 2,000 MW will be needed by next summer. The power could come from retrofits new power plants, renewable and deferred retirements.